Contract okayed for Taft principal
by BRIAN NADIG
Taft High School principal Mark Grishaber was awarded a second 4-year contract to serve at the helm of the school through the spring of 2022.
Grishaber will become the second principal in the last 30 years at Taft to serve in the position for more than 4 years. Dr. Art Tarvardian served 13 years as principal, while four others have served for 4 years or less.
Grishaber said that he attributes the school’s success to hard work from the students and faculty.
“I’m happy the kids are taking responsibility for their education,” Grishaber said after the Feb. 13 meeting of the Taft High School Local School Council. “And I’m happy with the teachers who have questioned my policies. They kept me honest.”
LSC chairwoman Kathy Fern reported that the council gave Grishaber a “rating of excellence” on his most recent annual evaluation. The council approved the contract extension at a special meeting that was held prior to its regular monthly meeting.
Also at the meeting, LSC student representative Lenin Plazas asked about why there are no longer metal detectors at the school’s main entrance.
Grishaber said that metal detectors give “a false sense of security” and that several gifted high schools in Chicago use detectors on a sparingly basis. He said that these schools have an open campus and that the detectors are not used when the students return from lunch.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 8.7 percent of U.S. high schools in 2013-14 used metal detectors on a random basis. Many of these high schools are located in communities with a history of gun violence, Grishaber said.
The most effective way to keep a school safe is to create a culture and atmosphere in which students feel comfortable in reporting suspicious behavior, Grishaber said.
“The way I look at it is we have 3,400 security guards,” he said.
Over the years Taft administrators have said that the school does not have the resources to properly screen all students and check all bags each morning without causing a large number of students to miss their first period class.
Meanwhile, the Edgebrook Community Association donated $5,000 to Taft to help pay for cases where school memorabilia is displayed.
Association president Jeff Manuel told the LSC that the donation is being made in the memory of James Quinn and Jody McDowell, who were active members of the association for decades. Quinn served as president and treasurer, and McDowell oversaw the association’s snowplowing program.
The school also received a $3,000 donation from the Taft Alumni Association to help pay for a veterans memorial which will be installed inside the school. The memorial will include the names of Taft graduates who were killed in the military, including at least 40 from the World War II and eight from the Vietnam War, according to alumni association president Anne Lunde.
It also was reported that the alumni association is taking nominations for its 2018 Hall of Fame inductees. More information is available at taftalumni.org.
It also was announced that Taft’s wrestling team won the city championship for the first time in the school’s history. The team went undefeated in Chicago Public League competition.
During the public participation portion of the meeting, a teacher and five students spoke on behalf of a teacher who last fall was removed from the classroom by the school system and reportedly assigned to a non-teaching position outside of Taft. Details for the teacher’s removal were not given.
“He’s a mentor to me and many of our students,” physical education teacher Chad Nishibayashi told the LSC.
LSC parent member George Wilson said that the teacher motivated students and challenged them to work harder, preparing them for college.
“This man inspired me to go above and beyond,” one of the students said.
“He does have the support of many, many of the teachers,” LSC faculty representative Barbara Lynch said.
Fern said that the council does not have authority over personnel matters.
The next LSC meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 13.