D200 superintendent announces medical leave, license issue

Pruitt-Adams says she wants to head off rumors

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

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."


Email: michael@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

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Robert Milstein from Oak Park  

Posted: December 10th, 2017 7:35 PM

The math requirement is an unnecessary requirement for the role of Superintendent. My guess is we want clone teachers with the same skills. I can see my PE teacher coaching me in Calculus as I write. Please. Just wish her a speedy recovery and move on to the more serious issues at the HS. This is a distraction.

Robert Zeh  

Posted: December 10th, 2017 12:37 PM

I took a look at the math sample test (https://www.il.nesinc.com/TestView.aspx?f=HTML_FRAG/IL115_TestPage.html) and it is so far off from a superintendent's job that I'm wondering if I found the right exam. I do not care if my school superintendent knows how to calculate the volume of a sphere, the area of a cone, or read log graphs. The math requirement looks like another pointless hoop to jump through that wastes peoples time and doesn't do anything to make the world a better place.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: December 8th, 2017 6:39 AM

timing of this is very interesting.

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 5:19 PM

This is not the time to discuss this. Wish the best for some one and have some compassion. There is always some other time you can give your disagreements about the school

Tommy McCoy  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 4:46 PM

Rob Ruffulo, Jeff Schroeder, this is not the time to start making out why. This is the time to show compassion to another human being who requires surgery. Lets just wish her the best and when she recovers, and back to work, then you can start asking your questions.

Mick McDonnell  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 4:45 PM

This is funny (and, sad) on soooo many levels. The key takeaway here, though, is that D200 is overstaffed by at least one body. Either fire the math-challenged, unlicensed teacher, or her temporary replacement upon her return.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 4:40 PM

Rob, your comment doesn't seem to make any sense. What did they miss? Did you actually read the article? She was hired and at that time there appears to have been some question about her needing to take the test. That was ironed out and she took it. It's disspointing that she failed the math portion as it sets a bit of a bad example for the students but it's also hard to see why that's really significant for that position.

Rob Ruffulo  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 3:14 PM

How does OP hire a superintendent with out a complete educational and license background check? Coincedence ??

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: December 7th, 2017 11:54 AM

This is all strange. Why would a superintendent have to take a math test? Better that she learn how the whole County property tax craziness works, with assessments that do not mirror reality, multipliers, etc.

John Frederick Troelstrup from Oak Park  

Posted: December 6th, 2017 10:38 PM

I send my very best wishes for the complete success of your upcoming surgery. Thereafter I shall eagerly anticipate your return to full-time duty, for many years to come. - John Frederick Troelstrup

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