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Senn Principal Susan Lofton removed from school during Inspector General investigation... One news report says manipulation of special education kids' testing is a reason...

Susan Lofton in the Senn High School office. Photo courtesy of Senn High School.The principal of Senn High School, Susan Loften, has been removed from the school, according to CPS sources, an email from alderman Harry Osterman, and DNA Info Chicago. Below are the email from the alderman, a statement from the Local School Council, and the DNA Info story. Although Substance has heard additional information about this story, for now Harry Osterman's email and the DNA Info story present as much of the facts as are necessary. Substance editors would note that the use of the phrase "popular principal" would have to be clarified somewhat, but that is not relevant at this time.

Additional details of the reasons for the investigation have not been reported to the public at this time. Lofton came to Senn after a teaching career (during which she was CTU delegate) at Juarez High School. She then moved on to Steinmetz High School, where she taught English before becoming an assistant principal, according to CPS records and Substance sources. She went to Senn five years ago after being selected by the Local School Council to become the school's principal.

July 20, 2015

Dear Neighbor,

On Friday [July 17, 2015], Chicago Public Schools removed Susan Lofton as principal of Senn High School. This action was taken as a result of a CPS Inspector Generals investigation.

As a strong supporter of Senn, I am deeply disappointed by this news.

Assistant Principal Carter Carey will serve as the administrator in charge of Senn until CPS can appoint an interim principal. CPS representatives will be meeting with staff, teachers, the LSC, parents and students to discuss this leadership change.

Senn is our communitys local high school, and it must be a safe, inclusive and outstanding learning institution for all the students and families in our community. As more than 1,300 Senn students prepare to start a new school year in September, it is important that we work to ensure that they have a productive year of learning and growth.

I will work with the new leadership team at CPS and the educational leaders at Senn to make sure that Senn High School keeps moving forward in a positive direction for all the students of our community.

I will update you further in the weekly newsletter about the leadership change at Senn.

You can read a letter from the Senn Local School Council [below here].

Sincerely,

Harry Osterman

Alderman, 48th Ward

LETTER FROM THE SENN LOCAL SCHOOL COUNCIL...

Letter from the Senn Local School Council (LSC) regarding administrative change July 20, 2015

Dear Senn community,

On July 17, Susan Lofton was removed from her position as Principal of Senn High School. CPS has appointed Mr. Carter Carey as the acting administrator for Senn. Mr. Carey has been a long time member of the Senn community, first as a teacher then an administrator. He has the strong support of the Local School Council and the faculty during this time. CPS is currently searching for an interim principal who will fit the needs of our remarkable school. We Bulldogs can use this as an opportunity to celebrate and build upon many of the improvements made over the past five years. It is critical to note that the entire Senn community, including a very talented faculty, valuable community partners, our close university partner, Loyola University Chicago, dedicated parents and our Friends of Senn group, collectively contributed to the revitalization of Senn High School, and remains committed to continued progress. Senn is poised to make the next upward turn toward its future as a model neighborhood high school in Chicago. As our IB and Magnet Arts, as well as our community programs, continue to improve, Senn will remain a place that teachers, parents, community, and most importantly, students, will be proud to claim as their own.

Sincerely,

The Senn Local School Council

DNA INFO CHICAGO NEWS STORY...

Senn Principal Susan Lofton Ousted Amid CPS Inspector General Investigation, By Linze Rice | July 20, 2015 7:21pm, Updated July 20, 2015 11:55pm, @linzerice

EDGEWATER Popular Senn High School Principal Susan Lofton credited with helping transform the North Side school was removed from her post Friday amid an investigation by Chicago Public School's Inspector General, officials said.

The school's Assistant Principal, Carter Carey, will act as the administrator in charge of Senn until an interim principal can be chosen, according to a CPS official.

"CPS has high standards for its school leaders, and the District takes any allegation of impropriety very seriously," CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Monday night. "While we do not comment on personnel matters, our focus is on ensuring this school has a strong leadership team in place to effectively support the school's students and staff."

CPS said Lofton was removed "pending a pre-suspension hearing." Dismissal charges against Lofton the school's principal for more than five years were currently being reviewed by the district's CEO and general counsel, CPS said, but officials would not comment further "due to the ongoing disciplinary process."

Linze Rice says much of the Senn community was shocked by the news:

In the coming weeks, Lofton will be paid while she goes through the pre-suspension hearing, CPS officials said.

If officials find the charges against Lofton legitimate, they will refer the case to the Illinois State Board of Education to decide if she should be fired, a process that typically happens about six months after the pre-suspension hearing, CPS officials said.

Lofton could not be reached for comment.

On Friday, Carey sent an email to staff alerting them to a meeting 8 a.m. Monday morning with him and Network Chief Philip Salemi. DNAinfo obtained a copy of that email.

Lofton was not included on the email.

"As a strong supporter of Senn, I am deeply disappointed by this news," Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) wrote in an email to residents Monday evening. "Senn is our communitys local high school, and it must be a safe, inclusive and outstanding learning institution for all the students and families in our community."

Alexander Orsi, an Edgewater resident who is considering sending his child to Senn, said he learned about Lofton's removal during that Monday after he went to the school to learn more about the school's international baccalaureate program. The program's coordinator was in the emergency LSC meeting, so he also sat in.

"We thought Senn would be the answer under Principal Lofton's strong leadership and transformation of the school," Orsi said. "With all of the turmoil and negativity CPS gets itself into, I had hoped they would be more forthcoming, but the chief and another CPS rep from I believe legal kept shutting my requests down."

He said during the meeting, Salemi said Lofton was being "reassigned," but would not specify what that meant.

Salemi did not respond to requests for comment.

On the Senn website, the Senn Local School Council posted the following message:

"Dear Senn community,

On July 17, Susan Lofton was removed from her position as Principal of Senn High School. CPS has appointed Mr. Carter Carey as the acting administrator for Senn. Mr. Carey has been a long time member of the Senn community, first as a teacher then an administrator. He has the strong support of the Local School Council and the faculty during this time. CPS is currently searching for an interim principal who will fit the needs of our remarkable school.

"We Bulldogs can use this as an opportunity to celebrate and build upon many of the improvements made over the past five years. It is critical to note that the entire Senn community, including a very talented faculty, valuable community partners, our close university partner, Loyola University Chicago, dedicated parents and our Friends of Senn group, collectively contributed to the revitalization of Senn High School, and remains committed to continued progress.

"Senn is poised to make the next upward turn toward its future as a model neighborhood high school in Chicago. As our IB and Magnet Arts, as well as our community programs, continue to improve, Senn will remain a place that teachers, parents, community, and most importantly, students, will be proud to claim as their own."

The Sun-Times reported that sources said Lofton was removed for allegedly lowering admission test scores for students who required special education in an effort to block them from Senn's Magnet Fine and Performing Arts Program. CPS officials would not confirm the report.

If Lofton's case makes its way to the state board, her trial will be overheard by an officer "jointly selected by the [state] board" and Lofton's lawyers, a CPS official said.

If she's found guilty of the charges, the board's members will vote to either accept or reject the charges. If accepted, Lofton will be let go, district officials said. Only then can Senn award a new principal a contract.

Lofton graduated from Kelvyn Park High School and volunteered with the Chicago Public Library as a literacy tutor in the '80s.

She went on to teach English at Lincoln Park High School and Benito Juarez Community Academy in Pilsen before moving to CPS headquarters to work on curriculum development.

She started as an interim principal at the end of Senn's 2009-10 school year. She was the school's third principal that year.

Science teacher Bill Koulias, a 14-year veteran of the school, said previously that Senn needed a strong leader. Lofton showed staff "we don't have to settle for the status quo," he said.

Senn saw dramatic improvement in many areas that led it to receive an "excellent" ranking in 2013.

Sun-Times Senn story below here (dated July 21, 2015)

The principal at Senn High School, who has been credited with spearheading the renaissance of the Edgewater neighborhood school, has been removed from the school following an investigation by the schools inspector general, Chicago Public Schools has confirmed.

Also removed from his post was the principal of the Marine Leadership Academy at Ames, Fred Aguirre, CPS said. ...

ources told the Chicago Sun-Times that Senns Susan Lofton is accused of lowering the admission test scores of special education students who wanted to get into Senns special Magnet Fine and Performing Arts Program to weed them out of the school. The arts program, instituted a few years ago, accepted some students from outside the boundaries of Senn, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave.

District spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Lofton and Aguirre were subjects of independent investigations by the CPS inspector general, Nicholas Schuler, who declined to comment on the cases.

Both principals were informed Friday that they were removed pending a pre-suspension hearing, and that dismissal charges for both were being reviewed by CPS interim CEO Jesse Ruiz, McCaffrey said. He would not provide details, saying the district doesnt comment on personnel matters.

CPS has high standards for its school leaders and the district takes any allegation of impropriety very seriously, McCaffrey said. Our focus is on ensuring these schools have a strong leadership team in place to effectively support the schools, students and staff.

Until CPS can find interim principals, Senns assistant principal, Carter Carey, will serve as administrator in charge and assistant principal Shanele Andrews will do the same at Marine, 1920 N. Hamlin Ave.

Aguirre is alleged to have violated district residency requirements that require CPS staffers hired after a certain date to live in Chicago, sources said. He began in CPS as a teacher in 2004 and became full principal of Marine in July 2013, according to the district.

Property records show he claimed a homeowners exemption on a home in Cicero during at least the past two years.

Emails sent to each principals CPS account immediately bounced back. No one answered at a number listed for Loftons home. CPS records showed she had been a teacher since at least 1996 and a principal since July 2010.

Asked directly whether he lives in Chicago, Aguirre said, Im trying to be real private. Its a very complicated situation. Its an embarrassing situation. Id rather leave it at that right now.

Loftons four-year contract was renewed on July 1, 2014, by Senns Local School Council. She was to remain in her post through at least June 30, 2018.

In 2012, Mayor Rahm Emanuel chose Senn as his first wall-to-wall IB program, offering an International Baccalaureate curriculum to all its students before admitting just a fraction of them into the rigorous Diploma Programme for juniors and seniors.

Recently, Lofton was on the front lines of a group of North Side principals, parents and politicians who opposed a proposed move of The Noble Academy charter school to Uptown.

She argued that Senn and the other schools couldnt afford to lose even five or 10 students to a new charter under CPS budget formula, which assigns a fixed dollar amount to each child.

The school boasts incredible diversity, a student body that is about 42 percent Hispanic, 28 percent African-American, 15 percent Asian, 10 percent white and 4 percent classified as other.

Senns Local School Council announced the news in a letter on the schools website, reassuring parents that It is critical to note that the entire Senn community, including a very talented faculty, valuable community partners, our close university partner, Loyola University Chicago, dedicated parents and our Friends of Senn group, collectively contributed to the revitalization of Senn High School, and remains committed to continued progress.

Ald. Harry Osterman (48th), whose far North Side ward includes Senn, said he was disappointed absolutely to learn of the principals ouster.

Senn is an important school in our community. We want to make sure that it continues to excel as a great school for all of the kids in our community, he said.

Pressed to explain the reasons for the ouster, he said, Thats something Im waiting for additional information CPS. Its something Ive got to get verified from them.



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