Embattled Rockford Jefferson High principal Kenneth Jackson will be returning to the job. School board members announced Tuesday night they have reached some resolution in an investigation and to grade changes Jackson ordered last year. They now believe his direction in making the changes came from former superintendant Dennis Thompson.
Cheers erupted inside the school board room when superintendant Linda Hernadez announced Dr. Jackson will be heading back to work. But questions remain and many supporters say they are not satisfied yet.
Dr. Jackson will be returning to Jefferson as principal but not until he renews his expired Illinois principal certification. Jackson took at least one part of the certification test Saturday. It generally takes about a month to process the certification. In the meantime he will not be working at Jefferson in any capacity. He is scheduled to work at the district central office.
A close friend of Jackson says the principal is very happy but impatient to get back to work. That was the feeling inside the board room too. One supporter says Jackson should have never been removed from Jefferson, but he's pleased the board reconsidered. He adds that when students see Jackson back at school, he hopes they'll understand how important it is you stand up for what you believe in and some students say what they believe in is Jackson.
"Everything's going to be restored. Not so much chaos, my grades are going to go up. I'm an honors student and my grades have gone way down. My best friend is coming back, my dad," says Jefferson junior Sarah Jarzynski.
"Dr. Jackson received direction from the superintendent. So at this point we felt is was important to make the statement that as long as his certification is cleared up he's returning to Jefferson," says school board president Nancy Kalchbrenner.
Kalchbrenner would not confirm whether the investigation showed other Rockford schools had issues with grade changes. She did say all principals need better and more clear directions on the district's policy toward grade changes and that they will be taking a closer look at those policies.
Kalchbrenner added that the strong support many community members showed for Dr. Jackson contributed to the board's decision to bring him back. Whether or not Jefferson teachers will welcome Jackson back is another question. Many were very upset with the grade changes last year, saying the move undermined their authority and lowered student standards.