Hitch School LSC awards principal contract to AJ Stich
by BRIAN NADIG
The Hitch School Local School Council at its May 22 meeting approved a four-year contract for acting principal A.J. Stich and passed a resolution calling for the possible release of the tape recordings of the closed sessions which it held on the principal’s search.
Stich was not present at the council meeting as he and his wife were celebrating the birth of their first baby, a girl, earlier the same day. Former Hitch principal Debby Reese died last February while on medical leave from the school, and Stich, a former assistant principal at Dever School, was named the acting principal last winter.
LSC community member John Garrido said that Stich’s qualifications stood out from the other candidates and that his performance during his short tenure at the school has been outstanding. “He basically has been undergoing an interview process since he became acting principal three months ago. That can work for you or against you, and in this case it worked for him,” Garrido said.
The motion to award Hitch a contract was approved 10 to 0, with parent member Diane Mahon abstaining. Mahon said that she did not object to Stich being the school’s principal but was concerned that the council had not “fulfilled the selection process” and called for the release of the tapes from the closed sessions.
Councils are allowed to discuss the individual qualifications of candidates in closed session, but all votes must occur in public. Councils are required by law to record closed sessions so that the proceedings can be reviewed if there is a legal challenge.
The council chose Stich without interviewing other candidates or holding a candidates forum for the community to attend. The Chicago Public Schools requires council to advertise for a principal’s vacancy and to conduct an initial review of the applications, but interviews and public candidate forums are optional.
The council unanimously passed a resolution to inquire about the legality of releasing the tapes and the appropriate process for doing so. Some LSC members said that making the tapes available to the public would demonstrate that the council considered other candidates and acted properly.
At the meeting, LSC faculty member Ray Kinzie read a statement on behalf of the council stating that it reviewed “over 18 resumes” and shortened the list to several well-qualified candidate before making the decision to select Stich. Kinzie said that the council is “confident” that it made the right decision.
“At this stage in the process, we felt that Stich was the strongest candidate, and we felt that there was no need to continue the process,” Garrido said. Stich reportedly was a finalist for a principal’s position at another school, but he has informed the Hitch LSC that he would accept its offer to remain at the school.
Also at the meeting, Garrido announced that the school will hold the “Debby Reese Memorial 3K Run/Walk” at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 14, with proceeds benefitting both Hitch and Saint Tarcissus School. Reese had been an advocate for having strong public and private schools in the community.
Information is available at www.runwithdebby.com. Participants must register by Friday, June 13.