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updated: 12/22/2011 4:55 AM

Grayslake charter school director is interim principal

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  • Brian Greene

    Brian Greene


Prairie Crossing Charter School's executive director has outlined an immediate plan for operations in the wake of last week's firing of Principal Brian Greene.

Nigel Whittington, who heads the state-funded public charter school in Grayslake, said in a recent message to parents that he'll handle principal duties on an interim basis.

"I have reviewed with the faculty the interim management and communication structure and assured them that they have support from the administrative office," Whittington said in a letter to parents. "Be assured the student experience is at the heart of our efforts."

Meanwhile, Greene's attorney said his client refused to accept a severance offer before being outright fired at a Prairie Crossing board meeting late Dec. 16. Greene had an $82,500 base-salary contract with a chance to receive $10,000 in bonuses.

Anthony Esposito of Libertyville said Wednesday that Greene's "silence" would have been a requirement for the deal. He said Greene, 41, wants parents and others to know at some point what was behind his termination at the small charter school.

"His integrity cannot be purchased," Esposito said of Greene, 41.

Board President Steve Achtemeier didn't return messages seeking comment.

Prairie Crossing has gone through four principals since Katie Reynolds' firing in July 2006. Board member Jeff Barhorst alluded to the turnover when he spoke before Greene was dumped in a 9-0 vote.

"I'm confident we have a system problem here," Barhorst said. "We've had different boards, different administrators, different principals. And we keep ending up with the same result. So, all I'm resolved to do in my term is to try to figure out if there's a better way."

Esposito reiterated Greene did nothing illegal or unethical before he was placed on paid administrative leave Nov. 29 and fired nearly three weeks later. Esposito and Greene have declined to identify the issue that led to the dismissal.

Whittington and the board stated in a letter the reason for placing Greene on paid leave couldn't be made public "due to the sensitive nature of personnel issues, labor laws and to protect Brian's privacy."

Greene came to Prairie Crossing from Bronzeville Lighthouse Charter School in Chicago for the 2008-09 academic year.

Bronzeville Lighthouse hired Greene after he resigned as principal of Hawthorn Elementary North in Vernon Hills just before the 2007-08 school season began, citing personal reasons. Greene worked in Vernon Hills in 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Prairie Crossing is an environmentally focused school with a 392-student capacity. Parents of children at Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 in the Mundelein area may send their children at no extra cost to Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery.

About $3.7 million in state money is projected for Prairie Crossing through the fiscal year that ends June 30, according to the charter school's budget. About $4.2 million in total income is expected for 2011-12.

Woodland and Fremont divert general state aid to help pay for children from those districts sent to Prairie Crossing. In a financial report issued Tuesday, Woodland projects forwarding $3 million in state aid to Prairie Crossing.

Prairie Crossing's listed income sources also include $106,296 in federal grants and $19,500 from out-of-district tuition.

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