As Jefferson freshman Darien Mack packs his bag for school, he's looking forward to having principal Kenneth Jackson there to greet him again.
"People respect him a lot. There's been a lot more fights and if he comes back I think it's gonna get better," says Mack.
Last week the school board cleared Jackson of any wrongdoing in grade changes at Jefferson last year, saying he was acting under the former superintendent's direction. Then Tuesday, the regional office of education told Rockford school leaders the state has granted Jackson a provisional superintendent's certificate. That replaces his expired Illinois principal's license. He now has until July 1st to obtain permanent superintendent's certification.
"He'll be back at the school for the rest of this year and then if he passes the test, he'll be there after that," says Rockford Schools Superintendent Linda Hernandez.
23 News obtained a document showing Jackson applied for his superintendent's certification on August 17th, ten days before his principal's license expired. Some supporters wonder why it wasn't processed sooner. The regional superintendent says he sped up the process last week after the school board said it wanted to bring Jackson back, pending proper certification.
Board member Mike Williams sees some unfairness in the way Jackson's case was handled compared to past situations.
"We've brought principals, we've brought teachers in without certification. We have required certification and at this point Dr. Jackson has complied with that requirement," says Williams.
Meanwhile, many teachers were unhappy with the grade changes last year, saying they hurt them and students and they wanted more input in the process. Now parents hope for open communication and a unified learning environment with Jackson back at school.
"That should be our focus anyway. Working together, with him to make sure our kids get the best education possible," says Jefferson parent Lisa Jackson.
Jackson tells 23 News he is meeting with Hernandez early Wednesday morning and will return to his job at Jefferson as soon as she wants. He adds he believes only the children were hurt through this process. Hernandez says Jackson will lead with temporary principal Mike Burkhard, a retired District 205 administrator for one day on Wednesday. From there on out, Jackson will be the sole principal.