cpz 012023SPRINGFIELD – To provide more transparency and due process in the current hiring process for principals in the Chicago Public School system, State Senator Cristina H. Pacione-Zayas, in collaboration with Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, introduced a new initiative to grant Local School Councils (LSC) access to the universe of qualified applicants for these vital positions—ensuring viable candidates are not overlooked, and underqualified applicants are not chosen over their peers.

“Current policies have caused some schools to hire administrators who did not meet the roles and expectations set, and this legislation will help address those issues,” said Senator Pacione-Zayas (D-Chicago). “Administrators lead and determine how schools operate, so by ensuring that each school can see the full scope of applicants, we are providing greater access to select those best qualified for the position.”

Currently, aspiring principals face rigorous standards to be licensed by the state and must go through a second eligibility determination process when applying to Chicago Public Schools. After passing this unclear vetting process, candidates interested in a particular school must submit their credentials to the entire CPS system for the first round of vetting, not the school they are interested in.

Additionally, LCSs do not get to look over the entire candidate pool, and only have access to the group CPS advances, even if other candidates were also eligible. This has led to issues in many schools in the CPS system, including a principal being hired who was not fluent in a language of instruction at a two-way bilingual school which compromised the principal’s primary function of evaluating teachers in the language of instruction. The lack of transparency in the current CPS hiring process did not grant the LSC full view of other potential candidates who may have been fluent in the languages of instruction.

To address this and other oversights, this legislation increases transparency for principal eligibility applicants by making public the rubric and scoring threshold for passing each step in the process, allows for due process when candidates do not advance to the next stage of evaluation, and gives Local School Councils access to the entire eligible pool of candidates. These protections give LSCs a more diverse pool of candidates to select from—some of whom may be more qualified to be leaders in schools than the narrower pool that CPS may have advanced. Further, it allows greater opportunity for equity by informing candidates of deficiencies and resources for professional improvement. Senator Pacione-Zayas is confident this change will make the hiring process work better not just for aspiring principals, but also for students, educators, and the wider school community.

“Students and school communities lose out when great leaders are arbitrarily excluded from eligibility,” Troy LaRaviere, President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said. “On behalf of the 1100 men and women who lead Chicago’s public schools, I thank all of the General Assembly members for passing HB 5285, which will bring more transparency to the hiring process.”

“Principals and administrators play a meaningful role in the success of our schools and students and are arguably the primary driver of positive school outcomes and success,” Pacione-Zayas said. “Our students and faculty deserve to know the process applicants undergo, and Local School Councils should have access to the full list of eligible candidates to review as they pick who is best fit for the job as principal.”

House Bill 5285 passed both chambers on January 10, 2023.  It now awaits the Governor’s signature.