UPTOWN — A week after a petition calling for the removal of the principal at Walt Disney Magnet School in Uptown garnered over 1,000 signatures, the principal’s retirement was announced.
In a letter to Disney staff obtained by Block Club Chicago, CPS Network Chief Mauricio Segovia said principal Kathleen Hagstrom has retired from the district and would no longer lead the school, located at 4140 N. Marine Dr.
“We thank her for her service and contribution to the Disney community,” Segovia wrote.
When asked last week about the petition for her removal, Hagstrom pointed to the school’s academic record but referred Block Club to CPS officials. CPS did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
The petition asking for her removal stated that Disney faculty and parents have been “victims of discrimination, retaliation, bullying and unfair labor practices” under Hagstrom’s leadership.
The petition describes a culture of fear where staff members are afraid to even make anonymous complaints. It alleges Hagstrom has a pattern of verbally harassing parents, teachers and students.
“Dr. Hagstrom’s harassment comes in the form of verbal assault through comments that are intimidating and unprofessional,” the petition reads.
“In the wake of what has felt like a war for the past 10 plus years, the halls feel like a slow moving remnant of all that we have lost,” the petition states.
“Many of the staff members and parents at Walt Disney stand in fear of Dr. Kathleen Hagstrom and have expressed being afraid of her retaliation.”
The petition states that it has the backing of “several past and present teachers, parents and staff members.”
Dona Daryawosh, who has had multiple children attend Disney, signed the petition to remove Hagstrom. She said her experiences with Hagstrom have been “terrible.”
“I have to take my kids to therapy because of [Hagstrom],” she said.
Daryawosh said she believes Hagstrom favors parents who come from positions of power and has been unkind to her children.
“She makes my daughters feel like they are stupid and dumb,” she said.
Although there were a few messages of support for Hagstrom in the petition, they were posted anonymously.
The CPS letter to Disney parents announcing the retirement did not acknowledge the petition.
A Local School Council meeting scheduled for Monday evening was canceled. A makeup date has not been announced.
Kathleen Bandolik will be serving as Disney’s interim principal, according to the letter.
Bandolik was both a general and special education teacher. She earned her master’s degree from National Louis University and was principal at Thorp Scholastic Academy — another CPS magnet school.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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