Local principal requests reassignment

By Mark McGowan

The principal of a DeKalb middle school divided by racial tensions last week has asked the school board for a reassignment for teaching.

Del Brouwer, principal of Huntley Middle School, requested to return to teaching Monday night but the board voted 4-3 to table the action. It will be brought before the board again April 22.

Brouwer’s request comes on the heels of a Friday morning protest that saw at least 75 seventh- and eighth-graders walk out of school to protest a science fair project which they claim exploited stereotypes about blacks.

However, one DeKalb parent says the “unfortunate” science project incident does not merit a resignation—especially one that might have been pressured.

David Whitson, whose sons went through the DeKalb public school system, said he supports Brouwer.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that was not a resignation on his (Brouwer’s) own part but a request from administration,” Whitson said.

“He’s a man above reproach,” Whitson said. “He would do everything he could in his power to make sure these situations be treated in a fair manner.”

In any case, Assistant DeKalb School Superintendent Joe Lo Cascio said Brouwer’s reasons for the reassignment request don’t directly involve the protest. Lo Cascio said Brouwer’s request is not a resignation and came from the principal.

Brouwer’s letter says the principal wants “to be in closer contact with the students,” Lo Cascio said.

Neither Brouwer nor DeKalb Superintendent Robert Williams were available for comment.

Still, the protest is weighing heavily on the minds of the school board members. According to board President John Rey, the board members are waiting until April because they need time to “separate the emotions of responding to the recent science project … from Mr. Brouwer’s requested reclassification.”

Rosa Whitlock, a grandmother of two Huntley students, said it’s a “good idea” for Brouwer to step down.

“He didn’t handle the situation right,” Whitlock said. “If he stays, it’s never going to be right.”

If the board accepts Brouwer’s request, he would remain principal until June 30, Lo Cascio said.

Brouwer’s request has not affected a previously scheduled meeting addressing growing public concern about the science project. The meeting is today at 6:30 p.m. in the school’s gymnasium, located at the corner of Taylor and Seventh streets.