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Evanston Township High School superintendent Eric Witherspoon said Monday night that he regrets that the school closed because of cold weather last Wednesday.

He noted that in the past, the school tended to follow the lead of the Chicago Public Schools on weather-related closures, principally because they based their decision largely upon the ability of the Chicago Transit Authority to bring students to the schools by train and by bus.

In the last two years, Witherspoon said, “the CPS has changed. So we’re going to decouple from CPS and we will make the decision based on ETHS.”

In retrospect, Witherspoon said, he should not have closed ETHS on Wednesday.

“I don’t intend to have those regrets again,” he told the board.

Gretchen Livingston, president of the board, noted that the board does not get involved in the decsion on weather-related closings, but that “we absolutely support” the superintendent on any decision of that nature, adding that “no matter what you do, you will be subject to criticism.”

Witherspoon reminded the board that school will be held on March 13 to make up for the day it closed last Wednesday. 

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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6 Comments

  1. Good for him
    I am glad to hear him say this publicly as a few other superintendents have done. seems like this was a decision made out of fear of not conforming. it takes courage to admit a mistake, and doing it publicly will make it easier for d202 and other districts to make an independent decision next time.

    1. I agree with the Eths parent.

      I agree with the Eths parent. I glad the D202 will no longer follow what Chicago does with their schools. We are better than that.

      1. Ditto

        Ditto to both comments – kudos to Dr. Witherspoon.  Also, I hope that D65 administrators will follow suit and make their own school-closing decisions rather than simply mimicking what CPS does.  If D65 is going to follow anyone's lead, perhaps it should be Dr. Witherspoon's.

        1. Closing D65 schools is different

          I am not sure that Dr. Witherspoon should be the arbiter for all schools in Evanston. A decision that affects over 7,000 young students (some preschoolers), spread out over 18 sites is very different than the same decision for 3,500 adolescents at a single site.

          1. 202 and 65 should coordinate

            Granted that a decision affecting adolescents in a single building differs from one affecting younger students in multiple locations. However, many families have siblings in both school districts, and several dozen D65 students take classes at ETHS, so these students attend both districts regardless of siblings. ETHS may want to uncouple its decision from CPS, but D202 and D65 should coordinate with one another in deciding about weather related closures, just as they should coordinate on many other matters.

          2. 5- and 6-year-olds standing
            5- and 6-year-olds standing at the bus stop get frostbite faster than 15- and 16-year driving to school.

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