AP NEWS

Kankakee junior high principal leaves

May 17, 2019

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Junior High’s principal, who already was planning to resign next month, left earlier than expected this week.

He left in the wake of an incident on Friday in which a teacher breaking up a student fight was punched, according to city police.

Principal Larry Gray’s last day was Monday; he was expected to serve through June 30.

In an interview Wednesday, Superintendent Genevra Walters said Gray needed to focus on his job search.

“He is looking forward and not coming back,” Walters said. “In order to find a job this late in the school year, you need to be available for interviews. You have to miss school days. My priority is that the school is covered. Understandably, he needs to find another job.”

In an interview, Gray said the superintendent has been “very supportive” of him. He said he is seeking job prospects in Michigan; he grew up in Detroit.

“I’m exploring my options out of state. I can’t be (at the junior high) every day,” he said.

Walters said she and Gray agreed Monday should be his last day.

“After the incident on Friday, I needed the principal to be there every single day. He said that would be a challenge,” she said.

On Friday afternoon, a teacher was attempting to break up a fight between two students when one of them punched her in the eye. This has been a bad year for violence at the junior high and high school.

Walters said she would step in to provide “closer oversight” of the junior high through the end of the school year, which is June 3.

Gray has 18 years of experience in public education. He was a candidate in 2016 for Kankakee High School principal before taking a promotion at Kansas City Public Schools. As director of secondary schools in the Kansas City district, he oversaw six high schools, three middle schools and three alternative schools.

In 2017, he became Kankakee Junior High’s principal.

In March, Walters announced that Kankakee High School’s principal, George Harris, would become the junior high principal the next school year. Two days earlier, Gray submitted his resignation.

Walters said the district needed a strong leader at the junior high to prepare students for high school. With Harris at the junior high, the central office can put more of its focus on the high school and the effort to change its curriculum, she said.

In 2018, Gray made $160,000 from the local school district, according to OpenTheBooks.com.