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Embattled King College Prep Principal Resigns

By Sam Cholke | October 23, 2013 6:17am
 King College Prep Principal Shontae Higginbottom will step down from her position Friday.
King College Prep Principal Shontae Higginbottom will step down from her position Friday.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

KENWOOD — After a tumultuous year at King College Prep, Principal Shontae Higginbottom announced she would step down from her position, effective Oct. 25.

Teachers at the selective-enrollment high school at 4445 S. Drexel Ave. said that Higginbottom called a very brief meeting on Friday to inform staff she would be leaving.

Teachers who were at the meeting said she did not say why she was leaving, and the meeting ended within about a minute.

Chicago Public Schools officials confirmed that Higginbottom would be leaving King, but did not immediately provide details of the reason for her departure.

Higginbottom did not respond to requests for comment.

“I think she had a tough year, and I think it would have been tough for anyone to recover from that,” said Lance Williams, chairman of the Local School Council.

Higginbottom started at King in September of last year and led the school through the difficult recovery after the murder of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton in January.

But before that, she clashed with teachers, students and parents on several occasions — to the point that nearly 900 students staged a three-hour sit-in at the school in December over changes to disciplinary policies.

The incident was sparked by an argument between Higginbottom and basketball coach James McKatherine that led to McKatherine’s firing and arrest for allegedly threatening Higginbottom. McKatherine denied he threatened her.

The incident worried many parents, who already were concerned after several well-liked teachers chose to leave the school after Higginbottom eliminated their courses.

Higginbottom also allegedly made a sexually loaded comment in front of parents and students at a Back to School Night event last year.

Williams agreed that Higginbottom turned out not to be a good fit for King.

“I’m really impressed that she placed her ego aside and saw that this didn’t work for her or the community and stepped aside,” Williams said.

An interim principal will be named for the school until the LSC is able to find a permanent replacement.