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Gary Middle College principal fired

James Joiner. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

James Joiner. | Jeffrey D. Nicholls~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 2, 2013 7:33AM



GARY — The principal of a first-year charter school has been fired in a mid-year shakeup.

James Joiner, the principal of Gary Middle College, has been replaced by former Calumet High School Principal Tim Pivarnik.

Kevin Teasley, founder and president of the Greater Education Opportunities Foundation, which operates Gary Middle College as a dropout recovery night school, said he fired Joiner on Monday.

Teasley wouldn’t elaborate on why Joiner was removed.

“He’s been a big part of the start-up and getting us to where we are, and now we need to take it to a new level,” Teasley said on Tuesday.

“We know what kind of pressure is on charter schools, if we’re not performing, we can be shut down and that would be the worst thing that could ever happen,” said Teasley referring to the seven schools that Ball State University pulled charters from last week, including two in Gary.

Gary Middle College, at 556 Washington St., is open from 5 to 9 p.m. and it uses an online curriculum program so students can progress at their own rate. It has an enrollment of about 220 students and a waiting list of 800, Teasley said. Students range in age from 16 to 58.

Joiner bristled at his dismissal, saying he’s had differences with the GEO Foundation from the onset.

He said the last straw for him came when he was told to fire a student support specialist. “For our students who have so much going on, they provide wraparound support. The GEO Foundation doesn’t understand that.”

Pivarnik is already on the job as interim principal, Teasley said.

He resigned last summer as Calumet High principal after denying sexual harassment charges brought by a teacher. Teasley said he hired Pivarnik because of his academic success at Calumet in bringing its state report card grade from an “F” to a “C,” taking the school off the state’s list of probationary schools.

“His former superintendent had nothing but good things to say about him,” Teasley said.



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