LINCOLN SQUARE — The chairwoman of Amundsen High School's Local School Council was found ineligble to serve and removed from her post at a meeting Tuesday night.
Sharon Jones, who was a parent representative on the council, was forced to vacate the LSC after a Board of Education investigation determined that she had falsely claimed to be the guardian of two students at the school.
Jones, who was at the meeting but declined to be interviewed, was given the chance to present proof that she was legal guardian of the students, but she opted to vacate her seat.
Jones' removal and an unfilled parent seat left three openings on the LSC (including a teacher position), which it moved to fill Tuesday night. Two candidates placed their hats in the ring: Darinka D'Alessio, mother of a sophomore and senior, and Steve Johnson, father of a freshman.
"I am entirely committed to this community," said D'Alessio, whose children are enrolled in Amundsen's International Baccalaureate program. Her primary goal is to increase parental engagement with the school, she said.
"There's a basic lack of parent involvement," she said. "That needs to be changed."
Johnson, a public relations professional, pledged to take Amundsen "from a great school to a well-known great school."
Having witnessed advances made at Lincoln Square's neighborhood elementary schools, including Coonley Elementary where his two younger sons are enrolled, Johnson said he is determined to lift Amundsen's profile and reputation.
He said he wants to spread the message that if neighborhood schools are OK for kindergarten through eighth grade, they should be an equally viable option for high school.
The merits of both candidates were discussed during a brief closed session of the LSC, which was observed by James Deanes, senior policy adviser for LSCs. Both D'Alessio and Johnson were approved and immediately seated. Permanent LSC officers will be selected once the teacher position on the LSC is filled.
With its membership now settled, the LSC can focus its efforts on support for newly elected principal Anna Pavichevich's agenda. During her regular report to the LSC, Pavichevich highlighted a list of accomplishments during the young school year:
• Reinvigorated extracurriculars, including restarting Spirit Week and the formation of a Student Advisory Committee.
• Mandated 98 percent attendance for athletes. Pavichevich said she expected pushback from coaches but that all have been cooperative.
• A partnership with Northeastern Illinois University that has resulted in free professional development for Amundsen's teachers.
• Outreach to five neighborhood elementary schools — Budlong, Chappell, Coonley, McPherson, Waters — with the aim of creating a K-12 system of neighborhood schools. Additional schools will be added as the program develops.
Parents will be invited to learn more about the new initiatives during an open house Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.
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