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California Educator Named New Superintendent Of Troubled Chicago Schools

October 16, 1989

CHICAGO (AP) _ A California educator who survived several recall attempts in wresting control of a scandal-ridden school district there is being named to head the nation’s third-largest system, a spokesman said.

Ted Kimbrough, the former Los Angeles Unified School District administrator, was to be officially appointed as head of Chicago’s public schools today at an afternoon meeting at the Chicago Board of Education offices, said board spokesman Kenneth Masson.

The Chicago system’s woes - gangs, a high dropout rate and poor academic scores to name a few - led former federal Education Secretary William Bennett to call it the nation’s worst in 1987.

Public school enrollment totals 410,000.

Kimbrough, 54, has had experience with troubled schools and demonstrated his resilience as leader of the Compton, Calif., Unified School District.

He took over leadership of the largely black district near Los Angeles in 1982, a system plagued by gang-related activity that was mired in a scandal over altered student test scores.

Kimbrough demanded an investigation, reassigned 40 top administrators and then survived several unsuccessful campaigns seeking to force his removal.

His appointment to head Chicago’s schools, which are undergoing a radical restructuring aimed at giving parents more say over local schools, ends a nearly yearlong search for a replacement for former Superintendent Manford Byrd Jr.

Kimbrough, who is black, assumes leadership of a system in which more than 60 percent of students are also black. He will be paid $175,000 a year.

The reform plan, passed by the state Legislature last year, is being implemented for the first time this school year.

It includes decentralizing the Board of Education by eliminating hundreds of administrative jobs. A a key element of the reform plan is the creation of 540 local parent-controlled councils assigned to most of the district’s schools.

The councils, whose members were selected in citywide elections last week, have the power to hire and fire principals, spend money and draw up improvement plans for each school.

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