Some parents still at odds with board over principal firing


Taylor Porter, News Editor

The administration may be eager to move forward after the events of this summer that led to the termination of Principal Ryan Pitcock; however, a group of vocal parents isn’t having it.

Some of them spoke at Tuesday’s Board meeting, criticizing the decision to fire Pitcock on June 21

Superintendent Von Mansfield, Assistant Principal Craig Fantin, and Assistant Principal Lawrence Cook have assumed Pitcock’s responsibilities.
Mansfield said the decision to fire Pitcock wasn’t made lightly.

“It’s one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make, but it’s one I am responsible for. It’s my job to ensure the school has the very best person in place, that will take care of everyone,” he said.

Records obtained by The Chicago Tribune show that Pitcock clashed with teachers and was accused of “bullying and sexual harassment” during his time here.

The administration, however, hasn’t addressed specific reasons for the firing because of confidentiality laws.

Fantin said the three have enough experience between them to get the job done until a new principal is hired.

“This my 16th year and Dr. Cook’s 15th year, so we’re pretty familiar with what goes on,” Fantin said. “We run across things we don’t have the answer to, but we work together to try and come up with a solution to make sure the school operates successfully.”

Fantin says he expects to school to continue operate on a “high level.”

“We work hard to make sure everything stays in place for all the students and teachers. If they tell me they’re going to hire someone, we will work with that person. If not, then we will step up our game to make sure we still operate at a high level,” he said.

According to Mansfield a new principal will be picked in January or February.

Vocal Parents

Some community members have united to take a stand against the Board’s decision to fire Pitcock.

“All we want is complete honesty and transparency. We know Ryan and what he did for H-F. (Some parents) don’t care or don’t know the facts. We do and we are not going away,” Carolyn Armstrong said.

Nancy O’Malley, a parent of a junior, said she holds the Board and certain members of the administration accountable.

“The Board and Mansfield should be ashamed of themselves for the way they have handled this situation,” O’Malley said.

According to School Board member Andrew Lindstrom, the situation has shifted attention from what’s important.

“It’s frustrating. We are out of focus, and we need to get back to doing what we need to do. We need to do the right things by the kids and the taxpayers,” he said.

Per parent request, the Illinois Attorney General has opened an Open Meetings Act investigation into whether the June 21 board meeting that bought out Pitcock’s contract provided sufficient notice to the public.

“Knowing H-F and knowing the way they do everything, I’m sure it was done properly. There was no hidden agenda,” Lindstrom said.

The school not only lost a principal but a “man of spirit, character and professionalism,” said parent Larry Kane.

“Let’s see if his replacement even knows how to stand at the door each morning and afternoon, giving out high fives, joking and loving our children,” Kane said.

Mansfield said he expects the next principal to be personable too.

“We would just have to find someone with similar traits. That’s just what a principal does,” Mansfield said.

Student Confusion

Some students aren’t exactly sure what Pitcock did wrong, but the secrecy the board is keeping is “suspicious,” according to senior Cierra King.

“It’s hard for me to say if I’m okay with it because I don’t know the reason why. Why can’t they tell us anything?” King said.

Junior Erin Cook said she wishes Pitcock’s departure was on better terms.

“He was such a good principal; it’s sad he’s going out on such a bad note. I don’t think the students are in a place to say that he deserved to be fired or not because we don’t know enough. He was a good guy and I’ll miss him,” Cook said.

Senior Morgan Harvey said the school board has only the community’s best interest in mind.

“Our teachers have to have a safe environment too, not just us.  If that’s what they have to do to keep a conducive learning environment, then that’s what they have to do,” she said.

Mansfield said with the school’s reputation of success, he is confident the school will find the right replacement.

“We are going to be the very best at what we do, like we always have. I wish people would trust in that.”