EDGEWATER — Members of Senn High School's Local School Council voted unanimously Thursday night to allow the person Chicago Public Schools Network Chief Philip Salemi chooses as interim principal to remain at the school for the duration of the 2015-16 school year while they search for a replacement.
The choice for interim principal will be made by Salemi, without prior approval from the LSC, he said Thursday. LSC members would not be part of the interview because ultimately it was his choice who would be selected since the council was "not offering a contract," he said.
At the meeting Salemi said he'd already spoken to candidates to replace Senn's now ex-principal Susan Lofton, who resigned from her post Tuesday after the district's Inspector General's office concluded an investigation on Lofton.
The school's administrative future had been in further limbo prior to Lofton's resignation because the LSC could not move forward in the search for a replacement until Lofton's employment status with CPS was resolved.
The school's Assistant Principal, Carter Carey, has acted as the administrator in charge of Senn since Lofton's departure, and until Salemi can appoint an interim principal.
Salemi said he wanted to introduce candidates to the LSC and announce his pick as early as Monday.
The Senn LSC urged Salemi to choose someone who was invested in each of the school's three major components: An International Baccalaureate program, a magnet fine arts program and the regular neighborhood high school programs.
Salemi said when reviewing candidates he would not "even bring up the word 'change'" because Senn needed someone to come in and continue its current path without shaking things up.
He said although he's not looking to make big changes at the school with temporary new leadership, he is looking for someone with experience.
The LSC could be working alongside that person early next week.
Monday night, CPS said Lofton was removed July 17 "pending a pre-suspension hearing."
At the time, dismissal charges against Lofton — the school's principal for more than five years — were being reviewed by the district's CEO and general counsel, CPS said, but officials would not comment on the reason why Lofton was being investigated.
"CPS has high standards for its school leaders, and the District takes any allegation of impropriety very seriously," CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Monday night. "While we do not comment on personnel matters, our focus is on ensuring this school has a strong leadership team in place to effectively support the school's students and staff."
On Thursday Salemi reiterated that he could not comment on the reasons behind Lofton's removal, saying that it was a "personnel issue."
Each year, the Inspector general's office releases an annual report of its findings, but neither Salemi nor McCaffrey could specify what details, if any, would ever be made available to the public.
Salemi said to his knowledge inspector general reports were typically "vague."
At the meeting, the LSC also voted to approve a new assistant principal position — bringing their total number of assistant principals to three.
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