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The Rich East Crisis Has Come: Call Now, Show Up, to Save Park Forest’s Iconic Learning Establishment

C.J. Smith Rich East High School, Rich East crisis
The future for students aspiring to succeed at Rich East is on the line. Stellar Students like C. J. Smith and those who will follow him need you to speak out, show up, now. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

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Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Rich East crisis has arrived. Mayor Jon Vanderbilt, an alumnus of Rich East High School, met this week with Dr. Johnnie Thomas, Superintendent of Rich Township High School District 227. According to Mayor Vanderbilt, Dr. Thomas told him the vote on the facilities maintenance plan was being bumped — rushed forward — to the next meeting of the school board slated for September 17th. 6 options on the table now.

“There are six options on the table now,” Mayor Vanderbilt said. “The option of a two High School District seems to be the direction of the board.”

Rich East is not one of the two the District is considering keeping open, according to the mayor.

Mayor Vanderbilt said he was disappointed that the superintendent would not even discuss the problems created by Southland College Preparatory High School and the money the charter is siphoning from the rest of the district. That was off the table, according, to the mayor.

Close Instead Southland College Prep

Face it: the charter school is nothing more than a vanity project for Dr. Blondean Davis. After Southland Prep opened, the school hosted a dinner and tour for elected officials and others. In the foyer, someone remarked to Dr. Davis something like, “Dr. Davis, your school is wonderful!”

I’ll never forget Dr. Davis’ response, “That’s right!” she said excitedly. “This is my school! This is my school!”

Every press release from the charter would have a paragraph or two about student accomplishments—and these are worthy of recognition. Then, the releases would go off the deep end, featuring several quotes from Dr. Davis, as if each release was really about her.

Because, in her mind, that’s what this charter school is really all about: Blondean Davis. The achievements of the students are ancillary to her vanity.

I wish to take nothing from the many accomplishments of the students of Southland College Prep, but Rich East is not the school to close. Close, instead, Dr. Davis’ ego project. These wonderful students would excel anywhere, including back in District 227, at Rich East.

It is now up to citizens to call the District 227 administrators and board members and show up at the meeting of the District Board on September 17 and demand Rich East remain open. According to the board calendar, the meeting will take place at Rich Central. The Committee of the Whole will meet at 5:30 PM, the Board Meeting will begin at 6:30 PM.

Call. Show up. Act. Please.

Former Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg issued his own call to action on Facebook, “Don’t just let your voice be heard: LET YOUR SCREAMS BE HEARD!!!”

The Rich Township High School District 227 reportedly will be acting on September 17 to close Rich East High School — the “Flagship” or original high school of the district. They claim the building is too old and will cost too much to maintain.

Let’s look at some other school districts in the region: Bloom High School is older and still standing and functioning; Thornton High School is older and still standing and functioning; Joliet Central High School is older and still standing and functioning. Those are just a few.

But here’s an even greater irony here: when the Lincolnway High School district decided it needed to close one of its facilities, it didn’t close the oldest (Flagship) school in the district; rather it closed the newest! Isn’t it interesting that the carpet-bagging administrator who is leading the charge to close Rich East wants to buy the closed Lincolnway North building (which is in Frankfort Township; not Rich Township!) as a new facility for the district!

Taxpayers of Rich Township — especially those residing in Park Forest — cannot sit still and let this happen! It will not save any money! It only will satisfy an ego or two!

PARK FORESTERS! BE AWARE! If the Rich Township High School District 227 Board of Education closes Rich East High School, your property value will sink lower than the Grand Canyon! Whether you have children of high school age or not, YOU WILL BE AFFECTED! The Board reportedly is scheduled to vote on this matter on September 17. Don’t just let your voice be heard: LET YOUR SCREAMS BE HEARD!!!

John Ostenburg on Facebook

So scream.

Scream at the following people:

Superintendent Dr. Johnnie Thomas:

Dr. Johnnie Thomas
Rich Township High School District 227 Superintendent Dr. Johnnie Thomas. (Photo: SD 227 website)

Dr. Johnnie Thomas can be reached at [email protected]. According to the District’s website, his office phone is 708-679-5737, his cell phone is 773-599-0331. Dr. Thomas’ Twitter account is @DrJohnnieThomas.

Scream at Board President Andrea D. Bonds: [email protected], (708) 679-5800:

Andrea D. Bonds
Current Board President Andrea D. Bonds. (Photo: District 227)

Scream at Board Secretary Sharon Newman: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

Sharon Newman
Current Board Secretary Sharon Newman. (Photo: District 227)

Scream at board member Randy Alexander: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

Randy Alexander
Randy Alexander. (Photo: District 227)

Scream at board member Mia Carter: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

Scream at board member Cheryl Coleman: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

Scream at member Janice Preston: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

Scream at member Dr. Delores Woods: [email protected], (708) 679-5800.

And show up September 17, 2019 at Rich Central High School:

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