Longtime North Side elementary principal abruptly retires after teacher, parent complaints

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CHICAGO – The beginning of a new era is underway at Walt Disney Magnet School Monday.

Dr. Kathleen Hagstrom, the longtime principal at the highly regarded Buena Park elementary school, has called it quits amid a campaign to have her removed.

A petition calling for Hagstrom’s resignation has 1400 plus signatures, alleging the principal has created a toxic work environment for teachers and students.

“The mental anguish many of the staff members at Walt Disney Magnet School have felt is unspeakable. We can’t describe in detail the avenues we have taken to get the attention of the CPS Board of Education,” part of the petition reads. “However, there have been numerous anonymous complaints filed by abused staff members who are too scared of retaliation to speak up openly.”

She has a history of being accused of insensitive comments. In a 2011 interview with WGN, Hagstrom was accused of being hostile toward parents, students and staff and would turn a blind eye toward bullying.

Moving forward, one parent, who did not want to be identified, says he hopes Hagstrom’s successors have better people skills and is more culturally sensitive.

I think it’s a long time coming. I wish her the best of luck. I think we should congratulate her on many years of good work,” a parent told us. “But I think it’s time for someone else to kinda take the reins and let’s move forward and fix the some of the problems that were there.”

A temporary replacement has taken over as the school searches for a permanent replacement.

Following her resignation Monday, CPS issued the following statement.

“Dear Disney Community,

I am writing to inform you that Principal Hagstrom has retired from the district. We thank her for her service and contribution to the Disney community…Your child’s best interests will remain the central focus of decisions made at Disney. I thank you for your support and will keep you informed on the plans for continuous school improvement and principal selection for the remainder of the year.”


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