Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams called an all-staff meeting on Dec. 6 to announce that she'll be going on medical leave for back surgery starting Jan. 8, 2018.
At the same meeting, the superintendent announced that she still needs to complete a math proficiency test required in order for her to obtain an Illinois high school superintendent's license. Pruitt-Adams has until June 2018 to pass the math portion of the test.
During a Dec. 6 phone interview, Pruitt-Adams said that the timing of the two announcements was coincidental. Ahead of her announcement, Pruitt-Adams said, there had been rumors circulating that she would resign. The meeting, however, had been scheduled prior to her hearing those rumors, Pruitt-Adams said.
"It is humbling to stand before my staff and share that, but I did not want my medical leave to be misconstrued that I was resigning or anything like that," Pruitt-Adams said. "There were rumors starting to surface.
Pruitt-Adams said she knew about the status of her superintendent's license prior to being informed by her doctor that she needed surgery, and added she still intends on taking and passing the math proficiency test prior to the medical procedure.
According to a statement released by the district on Dec. 6., when the District 200 school board hired Pruitt-Adams in January, she had been a licensed superintendent in Missouri for the previous nine years. Pruitt-Adams was hired in July as District 200's interim superintendent following former Superintendent Steven Isoye's decision to leave for another job. At the time, Pruitt-Adam acquired a provisional superintendent's license.
When she decided to apply for the permanent superintendent position in November 2016, Pruitt-Adams took the Illinois superintendent exam, which she passed. She was hired as permanent superintendent in January and has worked under the provisional superintendent's license ever since, which doesn't diminish her authority, district officials said.
When it came time to take the academic proficiency tests, a district official informed Pruitt-Adams that there was pending legislation that would exempt longtime educators from taking the tests. Pruitt-Adams said she received her teaching certification in Missouri in 1978, which would have qualified her for the exemption.
Once passed into law, however, the legislation only exempted longtime Illinois educators, which meant that Pruitt-Adams needed to complete the proficiency tests, after all. Pruitt-Adams took the tests earlier this year, but narrowly missed the cut score for the math portion.
Pruitt-Adams has a teaching background in special education. She earned a doctorate in educational policy and leadership from the University of Missouri-St. Louis and has been an administrator for over two decades.
According to the district's statement, the last time Pruitt-Adams took a math class was as a college undergraduate. The district added that it is not uncommon for people to pass all parts of the Illinois academic proficiency tests except the math component.
In the district's statement, Pruitt-Adams said that her medical leave "will not affect the instruction and services we provide for our students every single day.
"While I wish that I had been able to delay surgery until the summer, my doctors advise that this is simply not possible," she said. "Fortunately, I have complete confidence that my team will keep the district running smoothly in my absence."
District 200 school board members reportedly knew about Pruitt-Adams' license status before she made the announcement at the Dec. 6 all-staff meeting. Board members are confident that the superintendent will pass the math portion when she takes it again, Sullivan said.
In the meantime, Greg Johnson, the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, will be Pruitt-Adams' designated point of contact while she's on leave, Sullivan said. The superintendent's responsibilities, however, will be shared by faculty and staff.
Pruitt-Adams is working on a formal plan to reassign her duties while she is on medical leave, district officials said. The board is expected to finalize the plan at a regular meeting on Dec. 21.
At the Dec. 6 all-staff meeting, both board President Jackie Moore and Faculty Senate Chair Sheila Hardin spoke glowingly of Pruitt-Adams, with Moore saying that the superintendent's hiring, which came with much fanfare, is "one of the shining moments for the previous board."
Hardin said that, "as professional educators we know no one is defined by a single test. We judge people by their character and compassion, their professionalism, and their actions. That's how I've come to know Dr. Pruitt-Adams and the people I'm looking at in the room today."
Answer Book 2018
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