By Alexis Park, Copy Editor and Kate Lavin, Editor-in-Chief
Melissa Resh, principal of Walter Payton College Prep, announced her resignation Thursday, after the Director of Transformative Justice, Kristin McKay announced in May that she will not return to Payton in the fall.
Principal Resh’s resignation comes amid weeks of controversy surrounding the proposed budget for the 2021-22 school year, in addition to her response to equity issues within the community. These issues were first brought to light by a post on the bipoc.payton Instagram page, an account dedicated to creating a space for students of color to discuss their experiences at Payton. The initial post, published on May 14 was sent in by a Payton teacher who described the environment created by Resh’s administration as “a model of white supremacy culture.” Subsequent posts shared by both students and teachers corroborated these claims and the lack of support given to the BIPOC community at Payton.
The next week, the budget plan for the following school year was discussed at an LSC meeting, in which it was revealed that multiple teacher positions would be cut while hiring a Dean. This sparked outrage within the community, especially the students. A student-organized sit-in was held for in-person students on May 20 to protest the cuts, and remote students changed their icons to show support for teachers. Director Mckay resigned that same day. The budget was later revised so that no teacher positions were cut.
Principal Resh’s letter of resignation announced plans for the LSC to appoint a new principal, while Michael Durr, former John Hope High School principal, will act as the Administrator-in-Charge (AIC) for the time being. Network 15 will schedule a community meeting to discuss the school’s leadership changes and transition plans, which Principal Resh will work on with Chief Boraz and the LSC. The date of the meeting has yet to be announced. Principal Resh’s resignation is effective July 16.
“I think we need to have student input in our new principal selection and/or choose one of our current APs that have provided so much support and help during this time and have the credentials in running the school to do so,” student Nabiha Charolia ‘24 said. Charolia also expressed the need for communication between the new principal and students, teachers, and faculty, hoping that the new principal will “listen to us…while pushing us to be the best we can be.”