Prairie Crossing Charter School board members agreed to extend Principal Brian Greene's paid administrative leave through Friday.
The board met behind closed doors for 5½ hours and emerged early Wednesday to vote 9-0 in favor of keeping Greene on leave for reasons they have not disclosed. The board members will hold a special meeting Friday night about Greene.
About 70 parents and teachers attended the special meeting, which became heated when Prairie Crossing board President Steve Achtemeier declared a 30-minute public comment session was over and that officials needed to discuss Greene and another personnel matter in closed session. Some parents remained to see the board emerge about 12:30 a.m.
Some parents criticized the school board again for a lack of public information about why Greene went on paid leave Nov. 29 and demanded his reinstatement. Many parents in the crowd signed a petition asking the board to return Greene to his job at the small, public-choice school in Grayslake.
Greene received support from some Prairie Crossing teachers in the crowd. At least 18 instructors stood when fifth-grade teacher Tony Zamiar asked them to do so if they backed Greene.
“We believe that the best decision for this school, the teachers of this school and, most importantly, the students of this school, is that we (keep) Brian Greene as principal of this school,” Zamiar said.
Not everyone in the gallery supported Greene. Some spectators also said school board members deserve support because they are volunteers who sometimes must make difficult decisions in the best interest of Prairie Crossing's students and staff.
“Being on the board is never, ever very sexy. Let alone is it ever very easy,” former board President Geoff Deigan said. “And sometimes the board is forced to make decisions that are not very popular. But the board has a key understanding that they're here for the advancement and the progress of this school.”
Greene at one point met with the officials during the board's private session.
Greene, 41, has said he did nothing illegal or unethical before he was placed on leave. He declined to identify the issue after making a statement about his status at a Prairie Crossing board meeting Dec. 6, when officials agreed to extend his paid leave for another week.
In a letter to parents issued Nov. 29, Executive Director Nigel Whittington and the board said the reason for placing Greene on paid leave cannot be made public “due to the sensitive nature of personnel issues, labor laws and to protect Brian's privacy.”
Achtemeier told concerned parents last week that officials have been following legal advice in being vague about why Greene was placed on paid leave at the 392-student capacity school for children in kindergarten through eighth grade.
Achtemeier said the board understood the parents' frustration about not knowing why Greene was placed on leave. He said the board operates in an open manner and has been working within the law regarding the principal.
“Until this situation arose, people thought we were doing a pretty good job,” Achtemeier said.
Last March, Greene received a contract for the 2011-12 academic year paying him an $82,500 base salary. In addition, the document obtained by the Daily Herald through an open-records request shows he's eligible for up to $10,000 in bonuses, and the school contributes 9.4 percent of his salary to a pension fund.
Greene came to Prairie Crossing from Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School in Chicago for the 2008-09 academic year.
Bronzeville Lighthouse hired Greene after he quit as principal of Hawthorn Elementary North in Vernon Hills just before the 2007-08 school season began, citing personal reasons. Greene worked as Hawthorn Elementary North's principal in 2005-06 and 2006-07.
Prairie Crossing is an environmentally focused school. Parents of children at Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 may send their children to Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery.
Illinois' per-pupil financial aid follows Woodland and Fremont children who attend Prairie Crossing.
Spanish teacher Ray Martinez has been covering principal duties and providing administrative support for Whittington since Greene was placed on leave.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.