The Chicago Teachers Union has called for the removal of Joseph Powers, director of Jones College Prep, and students plan to leave the class on Monday due to his response to a student who came to school on Halloween wearing a German military uniform, stepped on a goose across the stage during a costume contest, and he gave a Nazi salute.
“This week we learned of another bias incident at Jones College Prep – a selective recruiting school that has been plagued by accusations for years that include persistent racial intolerance,” CTU said in a statement. “Once again, the headmaster of the school has completely failed students, educators and the family in his grim response. We urge him to resign – and if he refuses, to the CPS to remove him from his leadership position at Jones.
This is the second time a year the group has called on Powers to drop the allegations of systemic discrimination. In March of last year, the local high school council voted 8-2 to refer the principal of Chicago Public Schools to initiate a dismissal lawsuit against Powers over allegations of mishandling reports of s*xual abuse, poor financial management of the school, and failure to address “systemic” discrimination. among other complaints.
CPS CEO Pedro Martinez ultimately refused to fire Powers on “insufficient evidence of misconduct”.
Meanwhile, students have moved to social media denounce the director for responding to the controversy. In video posted on Twitter and TikTok, the student is seen on stage during the school’s costume contest, where he stepped on with the goose pace, a marching stride largely associated with Nazi soldiers, and paid a Nazi tribute to the buzzing crowd. The photo attached to the post shows Powers standing next to a student in a costume.
In his first email to parents on November 2, Powers wrote: “Many of our students and staff came to school on Monday, October 31 wearing Halloween costumes. In the afternoon we had a costume contest during the Ac Lab which was fun and well received. Among all other costumes, a member of our school community wore a surplus military uniform. Staff and students expressed their concerns about the uniform, considering it to be an expression of anti-Semitism. In addition, a video of the costume parade appeared on social media.
“I certainly understand and regret the discomfort and harm felt by some members of our school community. Please be assured that we take the welfare of all students seriously and do not tolerate any hateful expressions. In this situation, it certainly seems that this was not the intention of the Halloween costume.
But as the outcry grew, Powers sent a second email to Jones’ faculty and parents the next day, November 3, stating that the school should have handled the incident “more carefully” and should “communicate more clearly with the school community about the nature of the incident. . “
“We deeply regret the pain this incident has caused in our school community and ask for your cooperation as we address the situation and move forward together,” wrote Powers.
He also wrote: “We want you to know that we are dealing with this situation directly with a member of our school community who was wearing the suit in accordance with bias-based harm processing protocols,” adding that various CPS offices, including the Student Protection Office, provide support to students and will receive additional reports of specific wrongs that students have experienced.
Powers did not e-mail the Tribune asking for a comment.
Jones’s parent, Cassie Creswell, former chairman of the LSC, told the Tribune that the school’s failure to address discriminatory incidents was one of the “main factors” in the LSC vote to remove Powers from headmaster last spring.
“The truth is, Jones has just had a problem for a long time,” said Creswell, who in February helped write an 11-page letter to Martinez and the CPS Inspector General outlining their concerns about Powers. “When racist incidents occur, the administration has failed to respond effectively, adequately or safely.”
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Creswell said she first heard about the Halloween costume incident from a member of the school’s staff. She then asked her child, who told her that the student told people he was disguised as a Nazi. Later, she saw a video on the Internet.
“There should be an instruction on what you are doing, and what you are doing should not try to pretend that the child’s intention was not to pretend to be a Nazi. It’s clearly his intention, she said. “I don’t know why (Powers) can still run the school because at the moment it is a safety issue. If you cannot tackle anti-Semitic, racist, white nationalist hatred, it certainly creates a hostile environment for students. ”
CTU says parents, teachers and support staff have repeatedly raised concerns about the Jones’ culture of intolerance but have been “routinely ignored”.
“There should never, ever be a situation where children feel uncomfortable or insecure in the school building,” the CTU said in a statement. “Jones is over 50 percent college students of color, and his climate of rampant bigotry and racial intolerance is absolutely unacceptable. All schools need leadership that provides a safe and inclusive environment for every student and adult who walks through their door. ”
The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) statement stated that the District “tolerates no form of discrimination.”
“The celebration of Halloween is designed to build a sense of community and do not cause prejudice based harm,” the statement said. “School and district leaders are working together to resolve this issue and will keep the Jones community informed of any updates.”
The CPS also shared that its Equality Office worked with a group of students and alumni of selective recruiting schools to redesign the Policy for Multicultural Education and Diversity in the District. According to the statement, CPS expects the revised policy to be submitted to public comment and then to the Board of Education by next spring, awaiting the ongoing legal review of CPS’s equity policy.
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