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Ogden International School Begins Classes Without Full-Time Principal

 The school district has not yet found a replacement for the former principal, now under investigation.
Ogden International School Begins Classes Without Full-Time Principal
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STREETERVILLE — Students, teachers and staff will be at Ogden International School of Chicago when the bell rings to start classes for the 2013-2014 school year Monday.

But longtime Principal Kenneth Staral won't be, nor will his eventual full-time replacement, according to Chicago Public Schools.

David Domovic, former principal of Alcott School, has been standing in as administrator-in-charge since Staral was removed at the end of June with little explanation, and will continue to lead the school until Staral and Vice Principal Anthony Vandarakis are either reinstated or replaced, according to a CPS spokeswoman.

In addition, a former part-time coach supporting the administrative staff, Carrie Abrams, has been brought on full-time with support from the Local School Council to keep the school afloat while leadership remains in a state of flux.

Keiana Barrett, press secretary for the school district, said an investigation centered on Staral and Vandarakis is ongoing and declined to give specifics or a timeline, citing confidentiality policies.

Staral and Vandarakis were abruptly "reassigned" from the school in early July in connection with an investigation that Chicago Public Schools has yet to comment on.

In 2011 academic year, Chicago Public Schools launched a separate investigation into Staral's expenditures on a district-issued credit card, finding nearly $17,000 charged at high-end restaurants and hotels overseas.

Last August, Ogden was in the spotlight amid allegations that a staff member inappropriately touched a 6-year-old student with developmental disabilities.

North/Northwest Side High School Network Chief of Schools Leslie Boozer was apologetic at an emergency meeting for parents July 9, citing confidentiality policies that prohibited her from answering many parents' questions about the roots of the investigation or the future of the school.

Parents and students came to Staral's defense at the meeting.

"This was the best principal you could ever have at this school," said T.J. Bernahl, 16, who starts his senior year Monday.

"I've been here since first grade, and he's the best principal we ever had," he said. "He was the heart and soul of this school."

Boozer said the North/Northwest Side High School Network office would be responsible for providing administrative support in the interim "to minimize any disruption to the staff and students."

At the July meeting, Boozer encouraged parents to share their thoughts or questions with her via email at lboozer@cps.edu.