2013-02-08 / Front Page

Principal resigns from high school post

‘Very serious,’ family situations cited
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Dean Auriemma stepped down from his role as Scarborough High School principal in order to deal with some family issues. Auriemma came to the district in 2010 after serving as principal at two high schools in the Chicago area. (File photo) Dean Auriemma stepped down from his role as Scarborough High School principal in order to deal with some family issues. Auriemma came to the district in 2010 after serving as principal at two high schools in the Chicago area. (File photo) The high school will see a change in leadership for the remainder of the school year after Dean Auriemma unexpectedly resigned from his role as principal of Scarborough High School in late January.

“I am indebted to those that have helped me move Scarborough High School forward, as it has never been my intention to do anything but the best I can possibly do for the school community in which I serve,” Auriemma wrote in his Jan. 25 resignation letter. “Recently, it has become apparent the balance between what I need to do as a school leader and the responsibilities I have towards my family have been perceived to be in direct conflict.”

When reached by phone Tuesday, Feb. 5, Auriemma said there were three “very serious” family situations that “have and will cause me to be absent from school.” Two of those situations, he added, are out of state.

“This is a big step and a big risk, but I think my priorities are in the right direction,” Auriemma said.

Superintendent George Entwistle said Auriemma worked hard to make Scarborough a better school district.

“Mr. Auriemma has made significant contributions to Scarborough High School and to the Scarborough School District, and for those contributions we are indeed very appreciative,” Entwistle wrote in a Feb. 1 news release announcing Auriemma’s resignation. “The improvement work at Scarborough High School, however, is ongoing and needs to continue uninterrupted.”

To make this happen, Entwistle said, Auriemma will continue to work on districtwide improvement initiatives through the remainder of his 2012-2013 school year contract. Auriemma told the Leader this week prior to announcing his resignation he was not in discussions to renew his contract after it expired in June.

Auriemma said he has “no problem” changing his role between now and the end of the school year “because my goal has always been to do what’s best for the organization.”

The decision to do so, however, did not come easy.

“I had to ultimately make a difficult decision,” Auriemma said. “I think this is a balance between what’s best for me and what’s in the best interest of the organization.”

Entwistle noted as a result of Auriemma stepping down, assistant principals Susan Ketch and Ray Dunn, Athletic Director Mike LeGage and Monique Culbertson, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction, will form a leadership team to take over day-to-day operations at the high school. Entwistle said Culbertson will lead that effort, while other district personnel will cover “her job responsibilities related to curriculum and instruction.”

Kelly Mullen-Martin, principal at Pleasant Hill Primary School and Barbara Hathorn, principal at Scarborough Middle School, will lead the nationwide search for a new high school principal. The hope is to have someone in the position by July 1, when the new fiscal year begins.

Auriemma’s resignation comes at a time when many of the school leaders are coming together to come up with budgets for both the individual schools and the Scarborough School District for the 2014 fiscal year. Entwistle said the transition between Auriemma and the leadership team won’t affect that budget process.

“I am not imagining that there will be any impact to the SHS budget planning process or to the SHS budget,” Entwistle wrote in an email.

Entwistle wrote some of Auriemma’s aforementioned contributions to the school and the district include: “creating a campus culture and climate based on both safety and security procedures, as well as student social and emotional well-being; establishing new quality standards related to course content and assessment of student learning; developing healthy choices curriculum to address items related to positive relationships, substance avoidance and individual safety and promoting stronger communication and cooperation related to students transitioning from (Scarborough Middle School) into (Scarborough High School).”

As part of the effort to create a safer environment for all students, last spring Auriemma introduced Scarborough High School students to Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying initiative inspired by the life of Rachel Scott, one of the first victims of the Columbine school shooting April 20, 1999. For his efforts, The Rachel’s Challenge organization named Auriemma the 2012 Principal of the Year.

Entwistle indicated he is confident the Scarborough school community can bridge the gap between now and the end of the school year.

“Without exception, I know I can count on the members of our entire Scarborough school community to support the school leadership team and our Scarborough High School students with their positive attitudes, cooperation and encouragement during this transition,” Entwistle wrote.

Come July, Auriemma said he will miss the Scarborough High School community.

“This is very hard. It is the best job I ever had, but life is not just about a job,” Auriemma said. “I’ll have a lot of jobs in my life, but only one family.”

Auriemma came to the district in June 2010 from Thornton Fractional South High School in Lansing, Ill. to replace Patricia Conant at the high school after the Board of Education decided not to renew Conant’s contract. Prior to working in Lansing, Auriemma was principal at Minooka Community High School, a school for ninth- and 10th grade students in Minooka, Ill., 50 miles southwest of Chicago. Before he got into high school administration, Auriemma was a longtime art teacher in the Chicago area.

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