New Leadership at East High School

By: Narina Crain
By: Narina Crain

It's that time of year when students are flooding the malls and parents are struggling to keep a positive balance in their bank accounts.

Thousands of kids in the Stateline are going back to school next week. A steady flow of students have been registering at east high school in Rockford this week.

More than 1,700 students will attend East High this year. And while the number of students at east high is about the same this year.

The leadership of the school is quite different. Earl Hernandez retired as Deputy Director of the Illinois State Police to become a teacher at East High School. Three years later he's now in charge of the school. But don't expect the ex-cop to use his street skills in the classroom.

Hernandez says, "We're in the business of educating children here. This is not a police station, that's something people like to talk about but it really doesn't come into play."

Hernandez is the Chief Operating Officer of East High School. And don't call him principal. That's the title of his main assistant, Todd France. "I'm in charge of the academic stuff. Mr. Hernandez runs the building," said France.

The first thing Hernandez wants to do next week is start Freshmen off on the right path. Almost 70% of kids who get in trouble at East High are freshmen.

"A lot of issues relate to roaming the building and finding classrooms and after a while you get a lot of peer pressure issues that result in skipping," Hernandez said.

More than 400 students will walk through these doors for the first time next week. Hernandez says this year's freshmen class can expect things to be different.

"For the most part freshmen will be confined to the second floor and then all of their team teaching classrooms are going to be in close proximity to each other and lockers."

While Hernandez admits the school has issues with gangs he says the school doesn't deserve a bad reputation.

"That's a small group of people when you compare it to the population of the school." The new C.O.O. plans to manage the school like a business.

He has 150 employees, and a clientele of 1,700 students.


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