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Senn High Gets New Principal in Wake of Removal, Resignation of Last Leader

By Linze Rice | July 27, 2015 7:40am
 Mary Patricia Beck, former Von Steuben assistant principal, was selected by CPS to replace Susan Lofton for the 2015-16 school year after Lofton was removed last week following an investigation.
Mary Patricia Beck, former Von Steuben assistant principal, was selected by CPS to replace Susan Lofton for the 2015-16 school year after Lofton was removed last week following an investigation.
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DNAinfo/Linze Rice, LinkedIn

EDGEWATER — Senn High School, reeling from the abrupt removal and resignation of its once-heralded principal, now has a new temporary leader.

Mary Patricia Beck, a former Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center assistant principal, is the pick for interim principal, according to Ald. Harry Osterman's (48th) office.

The move came one day after Senn's Local School Council voted to allow its Network Chief Phil Salemi to select an interim principal for the full 2015-16 school year.

According to her online resumé and LinkedIn profile, Beck has held a number of positions within Chicago Public Schools, including in Farragut Career Academy's English department, as curriculum manager for the district's Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, as network program manager and later assistant principal at North Lawndale College Prep Charter School and, as of July 2014, assistant principal at magnet Von Steuben in Albany Park.

On the school's website, the LSC left the message: "The Senn LSC is proud to welcome Interim Principal Mary Beck to the Senn Community. She has a long history in CPS. ... We are excited to have her."

On July 17, then-Senn Principal Susan Lofton, who had been at the school for five years, was removed following an investigation by the CPS' Inspector General's office. CPS has not yet commented on the reason behind Lofton's investigation or the findings of the Inspector General's report.

In an email to residents, Osterman said he planned to reach out to the community to "talk about what we all can do to support Senn’s students, faculty and administrators" as they transitioned between leadership.

"As our community’s local high school, Senn must be a safe, inclusive and outstanding learning institution for all the students and families in our community," Osterman wrote. "As more than 1,300 Senn students prepare to start a new school year in September, it is important that we work to ensure that they have a productive year of learning and growth."

Senn High School's interior, at 5900 N. Glenwood Ave. in Edgewater. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]

On July 21, four days after her removal, Lofton resigned from CPS.

Assistant Principal Carter Carey has acted as the school's administrative leader since Lofton's removal.

"CPS has high standards for its school leaders, and the District takes any allegation of impropriety very seriously," CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said last week. "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."

The choice for interim principal was to be made by Salemi, without prior approval from the LSC, he said during Thursday's LSC meeting. The council's members would not be part of the interview process because ultimately the council was "not offering a contract," he said.

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.

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.

"This is a school that is going to continue its success even though its leader may be gone, we're going to go on," said an employee at Senn.

Beck could not be reached for comment.

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