Students at Robert Lindblom Math and Science Academy high school started the school year with a spirited walkout, protesting Principal Abdul Muhammad’s termination of Assistant Principal Karen Fitzpatrick Carpenter. Now the students will return from spring break with a new top administrator, the district announced Friday in a letter to parents.
Chicago Public Schools officials “removed Abdul Muhammad from his principal duties at Lindblom effective immediately due to an investigation that substantiated findings against Mr. Muhammad,” Network 16 Chief of Schools Devin LaRosa wrote, adding that administrators were “unable to discuss details regarding the case.”
Muhammad has been reassigned to the Network 16 Office, according to LaRosa’s letter. “Please know that we are taking this situation extremely seriously, and we remain committed to providing Lindblom students with a positive learning environment where they can reach their full potential,” LaRosa wrote.
The district has not disclosed whether the investigation was related to Muhammad’s sudden termination of Fitzpatrick Carpenter, who who students said was well-liked.
A CPS spokesman confirmed Muhammad’s removal and released a statement later Friday saying his “reassignment is not related to students leaving campus to vote on March 23.”
Lindblom senior and student council vice president Kennedy Ross, who helped organized the August protest, said at the time: “We kind of felt disrespected as a student body because we want our voices to be heard. We should be able to voice our concerns, because that’s what they’re teaching us to do. They’re teaching us to advocate for ourselves and to stand on what we believe in.”
Former Morgan Park High School principal Everett Edwards will serve as Lindblom’s administrator-in-charge as of April 10, following spring break, the district announced.
Fitzpatrick Carpenter, whose firing also sparked a petition of around 700 signatures demanding her reinstatement, said in August she was searching for a new position within CPS. But according to district data as of December, she’s not been employed by a new CPS school. A class of 1985 graduate of the West Englewood school, Fitzpatrick Carpenter started working at Lindblom in 1997 and became assistant principal of the school of around 1,400 students in 2015.
“She’s been a part of Lindblom for so long she embodies the culture of the school. She teaches the kids how to move about in the Lindblom community,” said Julie Simms Holder, president of the Lindblom Alumni Association. “We’re a huge, huge community in the Chicagoland area. And we’re very passionate about the school, but that passion exists inside the school as well. And she’s able to keep that alive.”
Lindblom is among a small number of CPS selective enrollment high schools to which prospective students must apply.