Principal Kenneth Jackson won't be seen in the halls of Jefferson High School for a while. Rockford's interim superintendent Linda Hernandez suspended him Tuesday. Jackson won't be back until an investigation is complete into the hundreds of grades he changed from F's to D's last year. He says he did so because the students' parents had not been told their kids were failing and he wanted to encourage parental involvement.
Former Superintendent Dennis Thompson supported the decision last year. Hernandez declined to comment because the suspension is a private personnel issue.
"I have kids in this district and I would be upset if a teacher didn't call me about the kids' behavior or grades and just decided to fail them. I just think it's unfair that they're going after him. It's like he's getting tried twice after he was found not guilty the first time," says Jefferson football coach Anthony Grier.
Dr. Jackson does not want to speak on camera until the investigation is over. However, he told me he believes the truth will come out. For right now he's worried about the students. He says they need his presence.
"Some of the kids that were really bad and got suspended all the time, one time that they go into his room and come out, they're new. They actually want to do better," says Jefferson Senior Ericka Mastache.
"I wanted my son there. I was happy to get him there and now that Dr. Jackson possibly won't be there, i'm really concerned about his future," says Jefferson parent Lisa Jackson.
But others agree with the suspension, saying the policy is unfair to students who earn passing grades.
"You have to do work to do work to earn a grade. That's what school's about. Don't come to school if you ain't going to do work," says Jefferson Junior Shawn Allen.
Many teachers were upset with the policy last year. Grades were changed back to failing if teachers could prove they had contacted parents. In the end, teachers report 603 grades remained changed to passing. Retired Principal Dave Rossi, who used to head Eisenhower Middle School, will be acting principal in Jackson's absence.