Parents support South Loop Elementary School Principal at school council meeting

Principal Tara Shelton acknowledges there could have been more communication

11/10/2011 2:31 PM

Contributing Reporter

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Five days after she announced the end to South Loop Elementary School’s regional gifted center program in order to deal with overcrowding, South Loop Principal Tara Shelton urged parents at the monthly local school council meeting Wednesday to move on.

“I would like us to just get out of this room and let it go,” Shelton said at the end of a two-hour meeting. “It’s over; it’s done with.”

That remark — like many of Shelton’s — was met with energetic applause by many of the roughly 150 parents who attended the uncharacteristically packed school council meeting.

Shelton first notified parents of the decision in an email Friday.

At the meeting, Shelton said phasing out the gifted program was the decision, “least disruptive to our families” that she and Chicago Public Schools could agree to.

The majority of parents who spoke at the meeting supported Shelton’s decision to lop off one grade of the gifted program each year by not taking new applicants. The plan starts next school year when the school will not take a new kindergarten class.

“I’m another voice of support for Mrs. Shelton,” said Emily Farr, a former LSC member. “I think you should think twice before you say something disrespectful.”

There were a few upset voices.

“When did you make the decision and why did you not involve the parents and community?” Kevin Madden, an LSC member, asked Shelton.

“We’ve been discussing [how to deal with overcrowding] for the last several years,” Shelton responded. “And all the options have were made available and considered.”

Indeed, Shelton laid out the history of South Loop Elementary working with Chicago Public Schools over the last three years.

Mostly left unsaid, though, was the most recent history — like the previous LSC meeting in October. There, Shelton and members of the school council swore up and down that they were not eliminating the entire regional gifted program, just the kindergarten-gifted program.

In perhaps of an acknowledgement of this, Shelton apologized to families whose kids just enrolled at South Loop.

“It was mistake,” she said. “We should have communicated more. Only new families have been out of the loop with the decision-making. Current families know what was going on.”

Shelton declined to take questions after the meeting.

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By SouthLooper from South Loop
Posted: 11/11/2011 1:05 PM

Tara Shelton is a terrible principal and needs to go! The LSC at South Loop School needs to stop coddling her and force her out!

By THINKb4uadmit.pls from South Loop
Posted: 11/11/2011 12:07 PM

"Principal discretion" admissions should also stop for real if this out-of-control student population growth is to be finally managed. The "neighborhood" program also has students who live outside the attendance boundaries, but gain admission through principal discretion.

By New Family
Posted: 11/10/2011 10:25 PM

Shelton had the opportunity to come clean with the new families in April when she hosted a Welcome to South Loop event for newly accepted families, before the families enrolled. She was explicitly asked by more than one parent if the program was in danger, and she emphatically said NO. She again had the opportunity at the September and October meetings, and when parents again directly asked her. She CHOSE to leave us out, and it is offensive to blame the divisiveness on our families.