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Kelvyn Park High School out of control while Board and principal harass teachers facing serious illness

In addition to the tasering of a student on November 19, 2010 inside of Kelvyn park High School, a staff member most recently was hit in the face with a trash can. The tasering took place when Chicago police were unable to break up a serious fight among girls at the school. But union teachers have been observing the problems at the school and trying to report them all year. Many of the problems have been caused by a chaotic approach to programming and the enforcement of student discipline.

The school is not only out of control with discipline issues and safety, but as you read below the inhumane treatment of its staff when in need of support is unconscionable.

Statement by Eric Wagner at the December 15, 2010 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education:

I am the associate delegate and a department chair at Kelvyn Park High School. I am speaking on behalf of Elaine Allen, a 14-year veteran Special Education teacher who is presently at her home recovering from emergency brain surgery while at the same time caring for her 80-year mother who has incurable cancer. I will read you Ms. Allen’s own words because they are the best instruction on how teachers should not be treated but unfortunately too often are by CPS:

MS ALLEN'S LETTER:

Two days after I returned home from brain surgery related to my subdural hematoma (which probably began when I collapsed several times from exhaustion) I received a letter from the Board stating that I would be considered AWOL if I did not return to work immediately. I called the Board and was told by Ms. Shawna Weaver that if I did not return to work that day or the next I would be fired immediately. My head was shaved, I had 20 staples on the left side of my head and ten down the top. I had to lean on a walker to stand up without falling. The issue was that I had taken too many days off to take care of my mother who has incurable colon and breast cancer. I am an only adult child and I am the only one responsible for her welfare. I was never told that I could take a day off here and a day off there to take care of her under the Family Medical Leave Act, only that I could take 12 weeks off, which will not be enough to address her cancer treatment which may last on and off for several years. The stress from being told that I had to return to work immediately when I couldn't stand up by myself was so much that I almost collapsed again which ( and I am not exaggerating) could have been fatal. I am still trying to recover from this serious event.

Since Ms. Allen received that letter from the Board, her fellow teachers at Kelvyn Park have had many of their own emergency meetings attempting to donate their own sick days to a cherished colleague, and Mr. Jackson Potter of the CTU has worked diligently to secure her a temporary leave of absence. Yet even under these conditions, Ms. Allen is still primarily concerned for her Special Education students and the quality of the education that they receive, so she has come up with some recommendations for the Board as to how these students’ education can be improved. Since I am not given the time to read aloud her recommendations, I have provided each Board member with a copy to read on your own. 



Comments:

December 16, 2010 at 4:35 PM

By: kugler

student riot

Getting reports from foreman high school that there was a riot today with 12 students arrested.

December 16, 2010 at 8:17 PM

By: Eric S. Wagner

KPHS

I was proud to speak for Ms. Allen at the BOE meeting. Her situation could happen to any of us and she was very lucky to have the support and help of the CTU and her fellow teachers at Kelvyn Park High School.

December 16, 2010 at 9:31 PM

By: sorry to read about Kelvyn Park troubles

need for strong leadership

Is the principal supporting teachers there?

December 17, 2010 at 11:51 AM

By: not the whole story

kelvyn park is not a war zone

This article does not tell the whole story about Kelvyn Park. First of all, the principal does not "harass teachers facing serious illness." Ms. Tellez supported Ms. Allen and spoke with the law department on her behalf. Ms. Allen's situation is tragic, but I believe Ms. Allen had some responsbility to investigate the options available to employees when caring for family members. Second, I am tired of hearing about the horrible working conditions at our school. Many staff members are trying to work together to move the school in a positive direction, but our efforts are stymied by negative publicity!

December 17, 2010 at 2:00 PM

By: Working conditions at K.P

teacher

I enjoy working at Kelvyn Park High School. All schools have problems. Instead of complaining and not having the whole story, lets work together and find a solution.

December 17, 2010 at 2:17 PM

By: Kelvyn Park Teacher

Education is much too difficult in this chaotic place...keep fighting for peace!

Fighting for student and staff rights IS moving our school in a positive direction. Our administration refused to meet basic needs of teachers (providing paper and access to copiers and processing discipline referrals in a timely manner, leveling classes) until these issues became public knowledge. The publicity has helped us move forward and will continue to do so. Thank you, Mr. Wagner, Mr. Skinner, and Mr. Kugler for all that you have done for our community. Kelvyn Park has been a chaotic mess this year...from programming to random room assignments to overcrowded classrooms.

December 17, 2010 at 2:54 PM

By: Ms. Patty Boundroukas

Kelvyn Park High School out of control while Board and principal harass teachers facing serious illn

I have been a teacher at Kelvyn Park for seventeen years. I take great pride in our school, faculty and students. This article does not tell the whole story about Kelvyn Park including the title. As a dear friend to Ms. Allen I feel the adminstation at Kelvyn Park and the Chicago Teachers Union especially Mr. Skinner and Mr. Jackson have been supportive in taking on the Board to address Ms. Allen's needs.

I feel that our school is not out of control ( I have no desire for an adminstrative transfer), but we do have issues that need to be addressed. We can address these issues only if you continue to work together.

December 17, 2010 at 8:02 PM

By: Elaine Allen

CPS protocol

I agree that our principal was very supportive, visiting me at the hospital, keeping in touch via email. The problem was more with the CPS protocol when dealing with staff in medical or family crisis, I experienced both at the same time. The Board should provide a formal document stating options available to staff for the clarification of staff and administration. As a special education teacher, I am familiar with all of the Parent Rights procedures we must adhere to, the staff and administration deserve the same.

I want to thank everyone for their support.

Elaine Allen

December 17, 2010 at 10:14 PM

By: Elaine Allen

One more thing..

One more thing...As to the comment that I should have done more research on the Family Leave Act I would agree if I hadn't talked to my neurosurgeon who informed me that he found evidence of several brain bleeds which I had prior to my surgery. These bleeds would have impaired my reasoning and emotional abilities so that my judgments and actions were not in keeping with my usual standard of performance. Compound the fact that my mother had several new health issues, one after the other, not all relating to her cancer, and the possibility that I would have the presence to mind to calmly sit down and do research is highly unlikely. When people have a medical issue they often need some guidance, another reason to have protocol in place to inform staff of their rights and proper procedures. This would save all involved a lot of unnecessary work.

Thanks again for the support.

Elaine Allen

Elaine Allen

December 18, 2010 at 3:41 AM

By: Sarah Loftus

Further tragedy for KPHS

In addition to all of the current troubles, the Kelvyn Park High School family was informed that Allegra Podrovsky, a beloved Music/Band teacher and CTU delegate, passed away Friday morning after a long illness. Ms. Podrovsky came to KPHS in 1983 after several years in various other Chicago Public Schools. She retired in 2009.

December 21, 2010 at 10:53 AM

By: Jerry Skinner

Kelvyn Park High School

A single article, or book even, could not capture the many great things that students and educators are doing at Kelvyn Park and all the other under-resourced neighborhood schools in the CPS system. I can only provide the perspective of someone who in his fifteen years at Kelvyn Park has been a teacher, department chairperson, coach, union delegate, and member of the school's Professional Problems Committee(PPC). First, I will simply comment that Elaine Allen did nothing to deserve the treatment that she received from CPS. When someone in a similar family and medical situation as Ms. Allen's steps forward to offer criticism, then I will reconsider this opinion. Second, while working conditions at the school might not be "horrible" (thanks more to my colleagues and our students and their parents than to CPS) these conditions have substantially deteriorated in past sixteen months due to a lack of administrative leadership. Third, not just many but practically all staff members are working to move our school in a positive direction. Our efforts, however, have not been stymied by negative publicity (which is merely the product, not the cause of the real problem), but by the lack of support for and trust in the faculty's/staff's expertise in educating our students. Anyone that wishes to dispute this should know that the Kelvyn Park PPC and union delegation have hundreds of pages (both our own and what we have received from individual teachers)that document such lack of support and trust by the administration, not just in a small number of instances, but literally dozens of times when critical problems faced our school. These documents have been shared with the staff, the Local School Council, the Area 26 Office, the CPS Sports Administration, the Chicago Board of Education, the 31st Ward Alderman, and many others in a continuing effort to solve our growing problems and make Kelvyn Park the best school possible for its students This is the truest proof that we are working together to move the school in a positive direction. Mr. Kugler's article, I'm sure, will be one more contribution to this movement.

December 21, 2010 at 1:28 PM

By: Eric S. Wagner

KPHS

I have been a proud member of the Kelvyn Park staff for 10 years! I am still proud of my school, the great teachers we have and my students. I would like to comment on the assertion that negative publicity is the problem at our school. If a prescription I was taking had sever side effects, I would like to know. If a car I bought had a braking problem, I would appreciate knowing about the issue and a recall. If a government official was corrupt, I would appreciate investigators publicizing this and informing me as a citizen and voter. Knowledge is power in our society and ignorance relegates people to social, political and economic subservience. Incompetence, negligence and violations of rights and the law should never be swept under the rug! “Evil triumphs when good men do nothing.” I could not see the perpetuation of inequity and not fight against it with every part of my being. I could not look the other way at corruption, nepotism and patronage and not fight against it. If I ever accept these as the final fact then I have lost my humanity. Teachers at Kelvyn Park do extraordinary things everyday in spite of the obstacles they face. They do at as professionals and as caring human beings that try to help those in need and give voice to the powerless. Social justice is not just a cool phrase, it is a way of life for many at our school. I will continue to fight to defend our staff’s rights against abuse and to help create the best learning environment that I can for our students. I will never apologize for pointing out corruption, and negligence that hurts my community. I would not tolerate this for my own children and will never tolerate it or stop being outraged when I see the staff and children victimized. The problems at Kelvyn Park are not related to publicity, they are related to the violations of basic rights and decency. I want to thank all of my fellow teachers for their dedication and hard work.

January 4, 2011 at 3:25 PM

By: surjit Kaur sandhu

My hats off for Ms Tellez and Ms. Carman for standing outside the school at sub zero temperature

Every day I see our Principal, Ms Tellez and Asst. Principal, Ms Carmen Martinez standing outside the building in subzero temperature, both in the morning and evening, to receive and see off the students. I have yet to see such a dedicated team. They are good role models.

March 28, 2013 at 2:01 PM

By: D. Hernandez

Teachers

I was a student at Kelvyn Park Class of 1998. I must say that its up to the student to learn. The teachers there are great leaders for students in that school.

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