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Ogden International Principal, Vice Principal Resign Amid Investigation

 Ogden International School at 24 W. Walton St.
Ogden International School at 24 W. Walton St.
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DNAinfo/Lizzie Schiffman

STREETERVILLE — As Ogden International School of Chicago students began their first week of classes, former Principal Kenneth Staral announced his resignation in a letter read to parents at a Local School Council meeting Monday.

"As a result of my current health condition, I have been unable to fulfill my responsibilities as principal of the school," Staral wrote in a letter dated Aug. 26. "Therefore, I made the decision to resign from Chicago Public Schools effective last week."

(Click here to see the full text of Staral's letter to parents.)

Staral has been at Ogden since 1996. He and Vice Principal Anthony Vandarakis have been under investigation for an undisclosed "personnel matter" since early July, when the school sent letters to parents announcing that both leaders had been "reassigned" to other jobs in the district.

A member of the Ogden Local School Council who asked not to be identified said Vandarakis' resignation was announced Monday as well.

Parents and community members were livid at a public meeting called on July 9 by the North/Northwest Side High School Network, where Chief of Schools Leslie Boozer was apologetic but tight-lipped about the nature of the investigation, citing confidentiality policies.

"This was the best principal you could ever have at this school," said T.J. Bernahl, 16, a current senior at Ogden, though he threatened to withdraw at the July 9 meeting if Staral wasn't reinstated.

This year, the Ogden International became the first school in the state to earn full authorization for its International Baccalaureate program that extends from pre-kindergarten through high school.

They join only 25 schools in North America and the Caribbean classified as "Full Continuum IB World Schools," according to Ogden's website.

But the school has also been the center of negative attention in recent years.

In 2011, CPS 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, Staral was in the spotlight amid allegations that a staff member inappropriately touched a 6-year-old student with developmental disabilities.

"Over the course of my 17 years as principal of The Ogden International School of Chicago, we have certainly had our share of ups and downs," Staral wrote in his letter. "There were times when we felt like giving up...however, we did not settle for mediocrity, we did not settle for failure, and we did not settle for the easy way out. Rather, we reignited the passion that brought us together and moved forward knowing that passion is the vital difference between mediocrity and success."

Chicago Public Schools did not immediately respond to requests for comment.