The head of a prominent South Loop high school is retiring, months after he was removed from his position pending a district investigation into a Halloween costume contest that included a student wearing what appeared to be a Nazi uniform.
Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez notified Jones College Prep parents and families Monday that Paul Joseph Powers has retired after serving as the high school’s principal since 2008.
“Our district is fully invested in supporting the continued success of Jones and will work with the LSC as they search for a new principal in advance of the 2023-24 school year,” Martinez wrote in the letter.
Powers was removed from the school last November after a video spread on social media showing a Jones College Prep student wearing a military uniform costume while goose-stepping across a stage and saluting during a Halloween costume contest at the school.
At the time, Martinez said that incident “caused harm to many students and staff, and it is completely inconsistent with our values as a school district.”
Students launched protests and told WTTW News the incident was “traumatizing” and made them feel unsafe.
Jones’ local school council had previously sought to have Powers fired early last year over an alleged residency violation. CPS employees are required to live in the city of Chicago, but the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the school’s LSC obtained records showing Powers only owned property in St. Louis, but not in Chicago.
Arthur Slater, who has served as administrator-in-charge at the school since Powers was removed, will continue in that role until the Jones LSC selects a new principal, according to Martinez.
Eunice Alpasan contributed to this report.