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Ousted Earle Principal's Future in Dispute

By Wendell Hutson | January 7, 2014 9:50am
 Ketesha Melendez was removed in December as principal of Earle STEM Elementary School in Englewood.
Principal shuffle
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ENGLEWOOD — After two years as principal of Earle STEM Elementary School Ketesha Melendez was abruptly removed last month and will be reassigned this week.

On Monday, a CPS source told DNAinfo Chicago that Melendez, 33, had been reassigned as the new principal of Crispus Attucks Elementary School, 5055 S. State St.

However, a CPS spokeswoman said, "Mrs. Melendez has been asked to report to the Englewood-Gresham network office" where she will work in an unspecified position.

Regardless of where Melendez ends up, Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th), whose ward includes Earle, 2040 W. 62nd St., said CPS made a bad decision when it removed her.

“CPS did our babies a disservice when they removed her,” Foulkes said. “Parents should be pissed off at this decision. She had Earle well on its way to recovery.”

But community input was among the reasons that Melendez, who had been Earle's principal since 2011, was removed, said Joel Hood, a spokesman for CPS.

“[It] was one of many factors CPS took into account before making this change,” he added. “CPS has decided a change in leadership at Earle Elementary School is in the best interests of the students, parents and teachers.”

Even if Melendez ends up at Attucks, her stay there could be short-lived. The school, which is on academic probation, is slated to close after the 2014-15 school year. CPS data show that Attucks has 169 students compared to 538 at Earle.

Some local activists said they were surprised to see Melendez gone.

“I am surprised to see her go because I thought she had things stable over there,” said John Paul Jones, president of Sustainable Englewood Initiatives.

Foulkes speculated that a group of Earle parents may have persuaded CPS officials to remove Melendez.

In September a group of parents complained about Melendez’s leadership style and her efforts to have students meditate at school.

“We’re talking about a few parents who were actively complaining, and one of them has yet to send her child to school,” Foulkes said. “Do these people speak for all parents?”