Crony principal of Calmeca elementary school removed

Principal Nancy Paulette of Calmeca Academy in Brighton Park in the neighborhood on the southside of Chicago was removed before Spring Break. She messed with staff, students and parents and is hopefully out permanently this time...

April 18, 2019, letter to parents and staff states CPS removed Paulette due to "conduct detrimental to school culture and climate." Paulette had been removed from at least two other schools for performance, yet was recycled back with some crony political connections all the way up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel. She had incited violence between parents to try and keep her job at Calmeca. Parents and CTU members organized to get rid of her from Orozco elementary school, where she had also been principal, yet the Calmeca LSC hired her, which is part of the crony and political patronage story that will be reported on later. It goes all the way to the top in city Hall.

Finally, Paulette was removed using Local School Council (LSC) minutes, showing she moved money without LSC approval, had statements of her instigating a fight between rival parent groups and showed her political connections to investigators. It took four and a hald months of work with staff and parents at the school.

Nancy Paulette-Aguirre in 2014 when ousted from the Orozco elementary Local School Council. DNA Info photo. DNA reported in 2014 on her ouster at Orozco:

Orozco Local School Council Moves to Fire Principal Nancy Paulette-Aguirre

November 21, 2014

By Stephanie Lulay

PILSEN — In an emotionally-charged meeting, Orozco Elementary's local school council moved to fire the school's principal Thursday.

On a 9-0 vote, council members recommended the dismissal of Orozco Principal Nancy Paulette-Aguirre. The fine arts and performing arts neighborhood school, which houses a regional gifted program for Spanish-speaking English-language learners, serves students from kindergarten through eighth grade in Pilsen.

The 100 parents who attended the meeting Thursday were split on the board's decision, but teachers largely backed the board's move.

In the 2½ years that Paulette-Aguirre has served as the school's leader, Orozco's academic rating by CPS moved from good standing to excellent standing. Attendance has also improved, she said at the meeting.

But Miriam Arriaga, chairwoman of the council, said the principal's lack of rapport with the council, parents and teachers has created "a toxic environment of division and apathy." The current council has been in place for about three months.

In Spanish, Arriaga said Paulette-Aguirre submitted the school's 2014-2015 budget to her supervisor Theresa Plascencia without ever consulting the board. That budget, under a previous council, was not approved due to lack of votes, Arriaga said. Because of that, books and other materials were not ordered and the board ultimately blames Paulette-Aguirre, she said.

Orozco parent Jose Hernandez, who believes the principal has done a "great job," said too many questions surrounded her dismissal. A group of parents protested the local school council's impending decision Thursday.

Substance reporter and Chicago Teachers Union field representative John Kugler outside Mollison elementary.The school has faced a number of problems under Paulette-Aguirre's tenure, the Arriaga said. Among other complaints, Arriaga blamed the principal for "chaos" and constant turnover: She said the school has had four different bilingual coordinators and two assistant principals in the past two years. Instructional time is constantly "unexpectedly interrupted" by the principal, Arriaga alleged.

Now that the council has requested Paulette-Aguirre's removal, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will have 45 business days to approve or deny the recommendation, according to a source familiar with CPS protocol. Bennett could also decide to move the principal to another school or role in the district.

Despite the vote, council members said they expected the principal to be in school on Friday. Because her current contract runs through 2016, Bennett must approve the council's request.

Paulette-Aguirre said in the meeting that she is being "convicted" and removed by the board without knowing what she is accused of doing. Sources close to the administration said that the principal did not know the board was going to move to remove her until this week.

"As an American citizen, I feel my rights have been totally violated," she said. If Bennett approves the board's request, Paulette-Aguirre plans to seek legal action, she said, but declined to discuss the situation further.

Prior to coming to Orozco, Paulette-Aguirre served as principal at Barry Elementary School on the city's Northwest Side, she said.

Before the meeting, about a dozen parents picketed in front of the school in protest of the council's impending action. Parent Jose Hernandez, who said he believes the principal has done a "great job," said too many questions surrounded the dismissal.

"Orozco Academy is considered one of the best schools within CPS," said Hernandez, who has a daughter at the school.

Parents supporting the principal said that the new council has created tension in the school and with Paulette-Aguirre, not the other way around.

Alyssa Dons, one of two teacher representatives on the council, said the school achieved its excellent standing rating because of the hard work of teachers, not the principal.

The Orozco Local School Council typically has 12 members including the principal. Before the controversial vote and fighting back tears, member Eva Gomez, an educational support employee at the school, resigned from the council. Another member was absent, and Paulette-Aguirre, who also functions as an council member, abstained from the vote.

About 600 students attend the school at 18th Street and Damen Avenue.


May 16, 2019 at 12:03 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

The Unstoppable Dr. Kugler

It's a worthy goal to stop one bad principal a month.

August 17, 2019 at 10:54 AM

By: Kati Gilson

Principal removal

I'm delighted to see CPS taking steps to remove incompetent, bully, plain bad principals. Having worked under one I know the trauma inflicted on students, parents and staff. I personally witnessed retaliation for reporting mold to OSHA, misappropriation of funding rumors of test fraud and more. Principals are not God. The public humiliation of teachers during staff meetings was deplorable. "Your job is on the line" was a constant threat. I remember the days of many good, caring principals. I hope CPS can return to that.

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