Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Outgoing Plainfield Principal Brian Bilal... the unanswered question is why?

This is why the city of Plainfield cannot grow. Here is a young man born and raised in the city. A man that understands the educational process. A man that turned the district around,received respect from me,as well as educators and politicians around the state. Now the Board of Education wants to kick him to the curb without explaining "WHY".

As we talk about our young people and the gang problem what type of message are we sending to them when they see how we treat a young man of his caliber? This is an embarrassment to the city and it makes them feel that they have no hope.

In this last election less than 10% of the people of Plainfield voted. Yet and still the Board of Education gets to continue spending 100 million of the taxpayers dollars per year.

I am happy that people are realizing that I don't run the city and I am not involved with the Board of Education. When local government does dumb things of this nature I don't get the blame.

I am responding because it is time for the ones that actually run the city to shoulder their responsibility in this ordeal and carry their own blame rather then go door to door blaming me.

The June election proved that the city no longer believes in the lies. Personally I am glad to see Plainfield waking up.

Bilal out as PHS principal; board mulls search for new permanent superintendent Jun 20th Comment | By MARK SPIVEY STAFF WRITER
PLAINFIELD - Plainfield High School will have a new principal for the 2011–12 school year, and a new permanent superintendent for the district may not be far behind.

The city’s Board of Education recently decided to uphold the decision of interim Schools Superintendent Anna Belin–Pyles not to grant tenure to Principal Brian Bilal, and officials added that a pending search is expected to identify new candidates for the permanent position vacated when former schools chief Steve Gallon III resigned in December.

The decision to let Bilal go followed an emotional public hearing last week, as about 100 people packed into the high school’s media center to hear Bilal outline why he felt he should be retained. The high school has made strides in areas of graduation rates, disciplinary criteria and some forms of standardized testing during Bilal’s three years, but Belin–Pyles during the hearing suggested that the improvements weren’t enough.

Outgoing Plainfield High School Principal Brian Bilal.
“I’m just disappointed, because I’m from Plainfield, and Plainfield shouldn’t treat its own like this — especially if you’re doing the job right,” Bilal said Monday. “If I’m not doing the job, by all means, get rid of me, but the numbers showed that I was.”

Bilal, who said he didn’t take a single sick or personal day in three years, added that he still has not received a sufficient explanation as to why he did not receive a formal evaluation during his final year on the job.

“I really think that it was very wrong — very wrong — not to even tell me that there was an issue or a perceived issue with the job that I was doing until April 30,” Bilal said. “The bottom line is that if evaluations were done throughout the year, and I had known there were some issues, things might have been different. There were other (job) opportunities that came my way throughout the year that I declined to apply for because I wanted to make a difference here in Plainfield.”

“Still,” Bilal added, “I can hold my head up high and say I’m leaving the school better than it was when I got here.”

Belin–Pyles did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment Monday. Board of Education President Renata Hernandez declined to discuss Bilal’s employment at length, citing the confidential nature of personnel matters, but said the board’s decision “was not unanimous.”

“We supported the superintendent in her recommendation because we thought it was the best thing for the district,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said Belin–Pyles has yet to recommend a replacement for Bilal, and it remains to be seen whether the high school will have an interim or a permanent principal for the 2011–12 school year. Board member Rasheed Abdul–Haqq said he “has a feeling” that the replacement will be Otis Brown, who served as principal of the high school from 2000 through 2005.

Plainfield interim Schools Superintendent Anna Belin-Pyles.
Abdul–Haqq said he supported Bilal and “thought that he could have stayed, and we could have worked with him,” but said he also supports Belin–Pyles and her judgment in the matter.

“She doesn’t want to keep people who just cut the mustard,” Abdul–Haqq said. “She wants really good leadership in order to move the district forward.”

Bilal and others during recent weeks have suggested that a factor holding the district back is a high rate of administrative turnover that has persisted for more than 40 years. The high school has experienced nearly two dozen changes in leadership since 1970, while a new superintendent could be the eighth different person to serve in that role since 2002.

Hernandez said no time frame currently is in place outlining the search process for a new superintendent, but added that details “definitely” will be made public by the end of the summer. Belin–Pyles and district Assistant Superintendent Caryn Cooper both are listed on Tuesday night’s board agenda to be renewed as interims for the 2011–12 school year, with salaries “to be announced” for each.

According to the agenda, Belin–Pyles has recommended contract renewals for the heads of all 14 district schools aside from the high school, including three principals who are being recommended to earn tenure following three years in their respective positions. All three vice principals at the high school also are being recommended for renewal.

“Obviously, there was a movement out there to remove me,” Bilal concluded, adding that he felt there were some “preconceived notions” that led to his dismissal and that a lack of communication from Belin–Pyles since her May 2010 appointment was “par for the course.”

“I know that the board members who didn’t vote for me didn’t look at the data. They didn’t look at anything,” Bilal said. “I wish Plainfield no ill will ... but after being there for three successful years, I think they treated me pretty badly.”

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