Thursday, December 14, 2017

Breaking News: "Contract Term Posting" on Mokena District 159 Website Suggests that Dr. White to be Hired as Superintendent

Earlier this evening we received the following Anonymous Comment:


Anonymous said...
"BREAKING??? DR. DON WHITE NAMED SUPERINTENDENT OF MOKENA SCHOOL DISTRICT 159. SEE HIS CONTRACT HERE:

December 14, 2017 at 6:52 PM

If you open the link, you will read a "Contract Term Posting" that states:

MOKENA SCHOOL DISTRICT 159 CONTRACT TERM POSTING: DR. DON WHITE 
5 ILCS 120/7.3(b)
PROPOSED TERMS

  1. Salary: $195,000
  2. Health Insurance: Individual + Spouse $1,773.63 monthly
  3. Sick days: Annual allotment = same as teachers per MTA contract
  4. Vacation days: 20 days (Yr.1) 22 days (Yr.2) 24 days (Yr.3) 
    (Source:  http://images.pcmac.org/Uploads/MokenaSchoolDistrict/MokenaSchoolDistrict/Departments/DocumentsCategories/Documents/OMA-Superintendent_Posting.pdf)

Before publishing this news, we went to the Mokena District 159 website to confirm the veracity of the comment.  We found the link to the Contract Term Posting on the D159 website under the tab for the Business Office -- Documents Upload.  The posting does not indicate when the Board of Education will be approving his contract.  It was not, however,  approved at the last board meeting held on December 6. The next board meeting is scheduled for December 20.  (Source:  http://images.pcmac.org/Uploads/MokenaSchoolDistrict/MokenaSchoolDistrict/Divisions/DocumentsCategories/Documents/Board_meeting_dates.pdf)

The website also indicates that Mokena District 159 began their Superintendent search in September.  The Superintendent Profile created for D159 is posted.  (Source:
http://images.pcmac.org/Uploads/MokenaSchoolDistrict/MokenaSchoolDistrict/Sites/DocumentsCategories/Documents/Profile_Report_9.20.17.pdf).  We leave it to our readers to form their own conclusions about this profile. 

According to the Contract Term Posting, Dr. White will earn a base salary of $195,000.
Pursuant to Section 4 of Dr. White's Mutual Termination Agreement with the D181 BOE, if he earns less than a base salary of $246,000 in a new job as of September 1, 2018, he will receive a severance payment from D181 equal to the difference in base salary, up to $100,000 (minus state and federal tax deductions, etc.). (Source:  https://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/ASNPCK5AE47F/$file/2017_10_30_Settlement%20Agreement_White_BOE.pdf)

This means that D181 will pay Dr. White a $51,000 severance payment, assuming his base salary is $195,000 on September 1, 2018.  

We are glad that Dr. White has landed a job so quickly and wish him well in his new endeavors.





Friday, December 8, 2017

What is Wrong with Educational Leaders Today?

Today we read with dismay the following news article posted in the Chicago Tribune:

It tells the tale of the CPS Chief Executive Officer who resigned today "after being accused of engaging in a “full-blown cover-up” during an ethics investigation by the district’s inspector general."  

The CEO resigned and called his actions a "stupid mistake."

Interestingly, even the Mayor of Chicago came to the CEO's defense and said "he can walk out with his head held high" stating that "An individual in time is judged by the entirety of their service. When you look at Forrest’s service … he has always gone to work with his sleeves rolled up, ready to get the job done.

It boggles our minds how people want to ignore that WRONG IS WRONG IS WRONG.  

Cover-ups are not "stupid mistakes" that should be overlooked.  Seems to us that in the business of education, if we want to teach our kids right from wrong, lying and coverups cannot be ignored.  

SOUND OFF!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Critics of BOE Must Wake Up to D181's Fiscal Reality!

Over the last two weeks, since the BOE approved a Mutual Agreement to part ways with Dr. White on June 30, 2018, we have heard angry parents cry foul and blame the BOE majority for acting without justification.  These critics have chosen to overlook or forgive the fact that Dr. White NEVER told the BOE that he had been given specific instructions by the district's attorney to ensure proper and timely publication by the DuPage Election Commission of the HMS referendum posting, and that he failed to accept ANY responsibility for an error that could have been avoided if he had actually done his job.They have labeled White's actions as a simple mistake. Most of the public critics, who have commented on the VOTE YES FOR HMS  facebook page or made public comments at recent BOE meetings, are HMS parents and supporters who have praised Dr. White for his efforts in getting the new school built.

But isn't this a district of 9 schools, not just one?  For the last 3 1/2 years on White's watch, the BOE has been waiting patiently for the administration to present a Facilities Master Plan for its approval, a plan that would outline and cost out in great detail, the projected capital improvements and needs of all 9 schools over a ten year period.  Time and again, the BOE has asked when the Facilities Master Plan would be presented for approval. Time and again, the administration has claimed it was coming. In fact, let's not forget that the administration actually misrepresented that a plan was already in place in its HMS referendum materials mailed out to the community. Back on March 13, 2016, we reported how an HMS referendum mailer (paid for with taxpayer dollars) represented that a Facilities Master Plan had been worked on for more than 2 years, when in fact, that was not the case.  Read our blog post at 3/16/2016 Post to remind yourselves of the administration's representations about the Facilities Master Plan.

Twenty months later, there is still NO FACILITIES MASTER PLAN -- which means that Dr. White failed to meet one of his most important contractually REQUIRED goals -- that a plan be  in place by November 1, 2014.  (See Section 3 in White's First Contract)  This of course means that Dr. White failed to meet a required goal prior to the BOE extending his first contract in December 2016, a failure that one board member believed prohibited the BOE from approving an extension of his contract.   Eleven months after his contract was extended by a BOE majority, and one full year after the missed contractually required deadline to have a Facilities Master Plan in place, NO PLAN HAS EVEN BEEN PRESENTED TO THE BOE FOR APPROVAL.

Instead, what we now know is that not ony has no plan been presented or approved, the immediate needs of the other 8 schools besides HMS have been neglected and only now, after the former Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Finance resigned and was replaced, is the administration telling the BOE the HARSH REALITIES of what the other 8 schools need and will cost. 

Tomorrow, Monday, November 13, the BOE will hold its monthly business meeting. Agenda Item 7D is called FY19 Capital Projects Discussion.   There are 2 relevant documents on Boarddocs that we suggest you all all read.  The first is a Memo that states:


"Background and Information:
The "Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates" document posted on BoardDocs was prepared in response to Board requests for a multi-year outline of capital project needs to inform discussion on the tax levy. It was developed by the Building and Grounds Department in conjunction with District Architect Healy Bender by utilizing the Facilities Condition Assessment Report prepared by Wight & Co. Architects in 2015, as well as a prioritization scale to weight the timing of projects by necessity. The Board Facilities Committee has not yet reviewed this information, therefore it should be considered a preliminary document for initial discussion purposes only. This information ultimately needs to be included as part of ongoing Facilities Master Plan development."  (Source:  11/13/17 Memo.)

You will note the language we have highlighted in red, which indicates that information presented in the second document titled Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates "will ultimately need to be included as part of the ongoing Facilities Master Plan development."

In other words, these estimates have not previously been included AND obviously the promised and much delayed Facilities Master Plan is still in development.  But the real problem with the delay in presenting this information to the BOE is that the information reveals a projected cost of more than $2 million per year to pay for needed captial projectsover the next ten years.  Anyone who has been following the finance discussions at BOE meetings over the last couple of months knows that during White's watch, the administration only budgeted $500,000 per year for capital needs.   And as the new Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer recently told the BOE, it will be facing a mulit-million dollar deficit if it decides to fund the needed improvements UNLESS cuts to the budget are made.

The document Capital Projects Long-Term Planning Estimates on board docs reveals the following projected capital needs costs over the next 9 fiscal years (which start on July 1, 2018):

2019  $1,965,000
2020  $2,079,000
2021  $2,203,500
2022  $2,269,500
2023  $2,146,250
2024  $2,409,375
2025  $2,122,250
2026  $2,237,750
2027  $2,017,375

These projected capital projects for the 8 other D181 schools total $19,450,000.

So, in order to fund the needed projections at all the other D181 schools besides HMS, the district will have to find ways to cut millions of dollars out of the budget over the next 9 years.  You can see this for yourselvest the immediate impact of the capital needs on the budget in the Tax Levy documentation posted on Boarddocs for tomorrow's  meeting.  The Tax Levy Memo shows a projected deficit for FY2019 of $1,355,994 should the 2019 capital needs be included in the budget.  

THAT IS THE FISCAL REALITY.

All the BOE critics need to face that reality and start paying attention to how the administration under White's watch (for the next 7 1/2 months) will address this fiscal reality, if at all.

Why weren't these numbers presented to the BOE by November 1, 2014, the date the Facilities Master Plan was supposed to be in place per White's contract?  In our opinion, the fact that these numbers are being presented to the BOE for the first time, nearly one year after the last BOE majority extended his contract, is an absolute disgrace.

Will non-HMS parents be as forgiving as they were of White's "mistake" when they realize how their schools' needs have been ignored and not budgeted for by the current administration?  And what excuses will the VOTE YES supporters make this time to justify this failure?

Let's hope the BOE takes these projections seriously and immediately begins the hard work of figuring out how to fund the needed capital improvements without negatively impacting our children's educational experiences.  While non of us like our taxes to increase, this is not a year when the BOE should underlevy for next year's taxes? Will the BOE do the right thing and levy to the max this year? Will any of the BOE members ignore the fiscal realities?

Stay tuned, and as always, SOUND OFF!



Thursday, November 9, 2017

Public Attacks on Board Members Who Voted to Approve White's Mutual Termination Agreement are Not Based on Facts.

According to the Mutual Termination Don White signed on October 30, 2017, he had 7 days to revoke his agreement, otherwise on the 8th day, the agreement became effective.  (See Section 12b of the  Mutual Termination Agreement.)

The seven days have expired and since the BOE has not announced any revocation of the agreement, we believe that it is now final and White's last day as superintendent will be on June 30, 2018.  During the wait and see period, we decided to stay silent, but others in the community did not. Starting with public comments made at the 10/30 board meeting and continuing in the Hinsdalean's editorial and in Facebook posts and comments, there has been a rash of harsh crticism leveled at the four board members who voted to approve the Mutual Termination agreement

Now it is time to put some of those criticisms to bed.  We begin with a comment submitted today by one of our readers that we think is a fair response to the criticisms and veiled threats made against the board members by certain community members.


Anonymous said...(Emphasis added by us.)
I just listened to the public comments from the beginning of last weeks meeting and am stunned. One person stated that the boards' actions regarding Dr. White would come at "costs to their personal reputations." Easy there, Godfather. Jump to 4:03:35 to hear the public comments yourself. In my personal opinion that comment seemed to be a thinly veiled threat to board members who supported White's departure. Threats like this are dangerous because they weaken the basic tenets of democracy and local governance in this country. While what this person said may have just been a slip of the tongue, nonetheless, it should be addressed by the board and the superintendent. School board members who work tirelessly reviewing years of evidence in order to reach difficult decisions should be commended, not threatened. While I have not always agreed with school board members I feel the words and the tone expressed by some of speakers last week lacked thoughtful objectivity and sensitivity. If the decision truly was mutual between the board and Dr. White, then both sides need to come together and publicly set the record straight for those who are still confused why the decision was mutual. As a D181 and D86 parent myself, I want to make it clear that the people who spoke in support of Dr. White last week in no way represent the views of my acquaintances, my neighbors, or me. I feel this mutual separation was long overdue.

Anyone who listens to or attends the curriculum meetings knows that Dr. White had nothing to do with "re-vamping" the curriculum. After he allowed Dr. Kurt Schneider and friends to make years of horrible curricular decisions based on social agendas rather than on scientific evidence, Mrs. Gallt and the parent volunteers on the curriculum committee came in and FIXED the mess. Anyone who listened to the meetings heard how hard she worked to peacefully correct the years of errors and poor decisions approved by previous board and administrators. The fact that she left speaks volumes about her boss. For people to perpetuate the myth that Dr. White is leaving due to a simple clerical error from a county clerk is absolutely ridiculous! Seriously? If anyone really believes this ALONE was the sole reason for the mutual separation, you are being naive.

The only people with full access to the whole story are the current board members and the district's attorneys. Anything anyone else thinks is conjecture. Remember, the decision was made based on information that will NEVER be made available to the public due to mutual agreement of both parties. There is no transparency in confidential settlement agreements made by school districts and their lawyers. Only Dr. White and a handful of others will ever know the truth. The accountability committee based their decisions on confidential documents, contracts, and discussions that took time away from their own families and professions. While some board members may not have grasped, or even read the important details, I have faith that the majority of the group made an excellent, thoughtful decision in the best interest of our children and taxpayers. I thank this group of board members for courageously standing up for the interests of our children and this community.
November 8, 2017 at 2:40 PM
The Reason for the BOE's Silence on All the Reasons Behind the Mutual Termination Agreement

We agree with the information provided by the commentor, and in particular their statement that "there is no transparency in confidential settlement agreements."  Although this blog is all about transparency, we recognize that in personnel matters, especially as sensitive as mutual agreements to end a relationship with a superintendent, the employee -- in this case White -- has a right to expect that board members respect the sanctity of the executive session and his right to privacy in personnel matters.   While the community can run wild with speculation about all the reasons why HE and the BOE agreed to part ways, WE WILL NEVER KNOW the full rationale or reasons behind their mutual decision.  White has a privacy right that the BOE should nott violate.  It is therefore disturbing that at least one "male" board member has selectively chosen to violate executive session confidentiality when he felt it would help White, essentially disrespecting his fellow board members who ALL are required to remain silent.

In addition, a close read of Section 8 of the Mutual Agreement reveals a MUTUAL NON-DISPARAGEMENT provision.  It states:

"The Parties agree they will not make any statement to any third party that either party could reasonably foresee would cause harm to the personal or professional reputation of the other Party."

Both Parties (White and the BOE) agreed that "to the fullest extent permitted by law [they] will not make or cause to be made any statements that are calculated or likely to have the effect of disparaging, damaging or otherwise reflecting negatively on the reputation of [the other Party]."
(Source:  Section 8 of the Mutual Termination Agreement.)

Section 8 goes on to state that White and the BOE's comments on the Mutual Termination Agreement  are RESTRICTED to the Press Release Board President Burns read during the October 30 meeting (Exhibit B to the Mutual Agreement) and a Letter of Recommenation the BOE is providing White (Exhibit A to the Mutual Agreement).

So what does this all mean?  This means that the BOE CANNOT respond to the public lashing it has  has been subjected to by the Hinsdalean, in public comments made by angry D181 residents and former Board Members and posts and comments that the VOTE YES FOR HMS group has been publishing on Facebook.  They are unable to defend or explain their reason AND White's reasons for agreeing to end his relationship with D181 effective June 30, 2018.

Bloggers' Response to the Criticism of the Board Majority

But just as certain community members have seen fit to publicly attack the Board's decision and make veiled threats to their personal reputation, we will now publicly state that not only do we support the Board's majority vote to approve the Mutual Termination Agreement, we are confident that there were good reasons why the board sought to end its relationship with White and contrary to what some community members have alleged, there was no vendetta against White or an unfair decision based upon a simple clerical mistake he made.

To begin,  whether people like it or not, Don White AGREED to leave D181 and his job as superintendent.  Anyone with common sense should conclude from the fact that BOTH the BOE and White agreed not to disparage each other -- or say anything that might reflect negatively on each other's reputation --  that there are things Dr. White does not want made public.

If the ONLY reason White agreed to leave D181 is because of a clerical mistake the BOE is upset about, it is doubtful that he would have agreed to go silent, since his mistake and refusal to inform the BOE was already in the public domain.   What is not known because the board has been silenced by the anti-disparagement clause in the Mutual Termination Agreement are any other reasons it may have had to supported ending the relationship with Dr. White.

But perhaps, we can begin to figure out what those reasons are.

A. Validity of White's Contract Extension Questionable.

Less than one year ago, it became apparent that problems existed under White's leadership that had nothing to do with a clerical mistake.  Back on December 12, 2016, Dr. White's original 3 year contract was renewed EARLY, extended by an ADDITIONAL 3 years and then BACKDATED to June 30, 2016, one full year before it was set to expire.

This is essence gave him a new 4 year contract, something that was UNPRECEDENTED in recent D181 history.  We have dug back into the D181 archives of publicly available documents and found NO OTHER such backdated contract renewal and extension given to past superintendents.  All other superintendents who have been around long enough to have their contracts extended, simply had them renewed for ADDITIONAL time effective the day AFTER their first contracts were set to expire.

One must therefor ask, WHY DID THE MAJORITY of the LAST BOE take this unprecendented step, especially since it WAS NOT SUPPORTED by all the BOE members?

The minutes of the 12/12/16 BOE meeting reveal that one board member, Leslie Gray, opposed the contract extension.  She stated that the proposed extension did not comply with the Illinois School Code requiring that White meet all of his performance goals as listed in his first contract.  She also stated concerns with the length of the extension, backdating of the second contract, inclusion of post-retirment benefits and removal of a provision that would have allowed the BOE to terminate his contract without cause.  (Source:  12/12/16 BOE Meeting Minutes)

The minutes further reflect that then BOE President Garg made a point of stating that the board has consulted with legal counsel who had opined that although the BOE could determine that White had not met specific goals, it could find that he had made adequate progress and thus meet the Illinois School Code requirements allowing for a contract extension.

Ultimately five board members -- Garg, Giltner, Clarin, Vorobiev and Turek -- voted to extend White's contract.  Burns voted Present and Gray voted NAY.  Just as the vote to approve the Mutual Termination Agreement was not unanimous, neither was the vote to approve White's contract extension.  We find it fascinating that commuinity members who have been quick to criticize the BOE's non-unanimous vote to approve the Mutual Termination agreement had absolutely no concerns when the vote was not unamimous to approve White's second contract.  Why wasn't anyone concerned then at the lack of unanimity? More importantly, should they have been?

We believe the answer is yes, they should have been very concerned.

What does the Illinois School Code actually state regarding whether White's contract should have been extended in the first place?  It states that (emphasis added):

(105 ILCS 5/10-23.8a) (from Ch. 122, par. 10-23.8a) 
    Sec. 10-23.8a. Principal, assistant principal, and other administrator contracts. After the effective date of this amendatory Act of 1997 and the expiration of contracts in effect on the effective date of this amendatory Act, school districts may only employ principals, assistant principals, and other school administrators under either a contract for a period not to exceed one year or a performance-based contract for a period not to exceed 5 years, unless the provisions of Section 10-23.8b of this Code or subsection (e) of Section 24A-15 of this Code otherwise apply. 
    Performance-based contracts shall be linked to student performance and academic improvement attributable to the responsibilities and duties of the principal, assistant principal, or administrator. No performance-based contract shall be extended or rolled-over prior to its scheduled expiration unless all the performance and improvement goals contained in the contract have been met. Each performance-based contract shall include the goals and indicators of student performance and academic improvement determined and used by the local school board to measure the performance and effectiveness of the principal, assistant principal, or other administrator and such other information as the local school board may determine. 
    By accepting the terms of a multi-year contract, the principal, assistant principal, or administrator waives all rights granted him or her under Sections 24-11 through 24-16 of this Act only for the term of the multi-year contract. Upon acceptance of a multi-year contract, the principal, assistant principal, or administrator shall not lose any previously acquired tenure credit with the district. 
(Source: P.A. 97-217, eff. 7-28-11.)

(Source:  Illinois School Code Section on Multi-year Administrative Contracts)

The section of the Illinois School Code that the BOE was required to apply in order to extend White's contract AND extend it prior to iit's June 30, 2016 expiration date REQUIRED that "ALL PERFORMANCE AND IMPROVEMENT GOALS CONTAINED IN THE CONTRACT HAVE BEEN MET.

This school code DOES NOT allow an early extension if a board of education finds, as Garg stated publicly, that White had made "adequate progress."  If the same attorneys that kept information from the BOE regarding White's "clerical mistake" are the same ones that opined that adequate progress was all that was required, then perhaps they were WRONG, gave the board BAD legal counsel and this is yet another reason why the BOE is now in the process of replacing them.

In addition to reviewing what the school code actually requires, we have also gone back and looked at White's first multi-year contract. It can be accessed at the following link: White's First Contract.  Section 3 of the contract spelled out in detail the performance goals that he was required to accomplish in order for to have his contract renewed.  After reading the list, we are shocked that 5 board members  concluded that White had made adequate progress at all  since what is clear as a bell is that White failed to meet some very significant goals, let alone ALL of them as required by the Illinois School Code.

While we will not go into detail on all of the goals, everyone in the community knows that as of 12/12/16:

No Master Facility Plan was approved as required.
Student Achievement had not improve as required.
Not only was the Learning for All Plan not "aligned" to the District's philosophy, it had been eradicated.
Five year budgets were not implemented as required.

All of these "performance goals" were White's responsibility to achieve BEFORE his contract could be extended.  Yet the BOE majority ignored the School Code requirements, choosing to rely instead on advice of counsel to allow them to extend and backdate his contract without his having met the goals.

HOW IS THAT APPROPRIATE or in the best interest of the district?

B. Timing of Contract Extension Questionable.

Of equal interest is the timing of the contract extension.   It was approved the same month that the HMS referendum publication error came to light.   When the publication error was first discussed by the BOE, all the focus was on the Dupage County Election Commission as being responsible for the error.  White made no acknolwedgment that he had made a "mistake" in not following counsel's checklist, a mistake which could have prevented the Election Commission from publishing the HMS referendum  notice too early.  Rather than disclose his mistake to the BOE,  White remained silent all the while that the BOE was deciding whether to approve an early, backdated 4 year extension to his contract.

We don't know about you, but we are deeply disturbed by the TIMING of White's contract extension. We are deeply disturbed that no one in the community cried foul when a board member asserted that the contract extension was not in compliance with the Illinois School Code.  We are deeply concerned that past board members who voted to extend the contract under such questionable circumstances have now been publicly critical of the current board's decision.

It's time for the Community to Wise Up!

We urge community members who have dumbed down the Board's decision to part ways with White as a vendetta by certain board members and an inappropriate reaction to a clerical mistake, to WISE UP and start following more in the district than just the construction of a new HMS.

If you do, you may be shocked to learn that ON WHITE'S WATCH the district is now facing a multi-million dollar deficit due to POOR PLANNING and LACK OF BUDGETING funds to pay for capital improvements that are NEEDED at the 8 other schools.  The HMS fiasco started with  a leaky roof, and yet 2 roof at other schools -- the Lane and Elm -- now both need new roofs that will cost over $1 million and there is no money in the district's budget to pay for them.

But don't believe us.  Go back and listen to the podcasts of the recent Facilities and Finance Committee meetings, as well as the financial presentations at the last two regular board meetings.  The BOE will now face the daunting task of figuring out how to balance the budget and pay for needed capital improvements.  Unfotunately, this will likely require CUTS in the budget.

So what will be on the chopping block?

Teachers? (Which could lead to increased class sizes.)
Teacher's Salaries?  (Will they agree to salary reductions or salary freezes in their upcoming contract negotiations?)
Programs?
Services?
Classroom supplies?
Overpaid administrative staff?

White may be leaving next June, but the financial problems will not be leaving with him.  The next superintendent will face a big fat financial mess that he/she will have to work with the BOE on without negatively impacting our students.

So was a clerical mistake really all that was behind the Mutual Termination Agreement?  We think not.  What do you think?

SOUND OFF!















Thursday, November 2, 2017

Revolving Door Argument Rebuttals

Since Monday's BOE vote to approve the Mutual Termination with Don White,  we have followed social media criticisms of the board's decision, asserting that his departure is the latest in a series of unnecessary revolving door departures and that the 4 board members who voted to approve the agreement have a vendetta against him. 
2 - Good leaders don't lie - by omission or commission - to their superiors or their employees. The publication error wasn't simply a clerical thing. Not only did it take taxpayer dollars out of the schools to pay for legal fees, Dr. White lied about it when directly asked.

3 - Good leaders know they are ultimately responsible for all actions of their employees. Maybe a staff member should have caught the error, but ultimately Dr. White was responsible. He was negligent in not making sure appropriate procedures were set up so the error didn't happen. This District ran six referendum prior to this one - publication dates were never blown.

4 - Good leaders rise to the challenge. D181 is at the top of the food chain for salaries to administrators as well as many other tangible and intangible job perks. Superintendent talent is not going to avoid accepting a job here for fear of being fired. Good leaders will rise to the challenge. I hope the BOE does its due diligence well and finds a leader who knows how to lead.

October 31, 2017
Anonymous said...
Response to the 12:16 comment:
Are you kidding me? This board was "punitive" and "short sighted?" No way.
I commend this board for finally doing what should have been done last year: giving White his walking papers. A contract extension that was issued by the previous board is the last thing that should have happened based on the state of the district and the fact that several key administrators left because they weren't supported by White. We all know this, so get your head out of the sand.
Have you forgotten White gave Kurt Schneider (his favorite suck up) a promotion to oversee the learning department and the curriculum for the entire district? I haven't. I'm still working on cleaning up that mess with my kids and the holes they have in their math instruction. 
So you'll excuse those of us who think the district will be better off without White in charge. My praise and accolades are for the 4 board members who took appropriate action.
District 181 needs real leadership, not a seat warmer.

October 31, 2017

Old Person said...
I am a 25 year resident of HInsdale and my 3 children went through D181 and D86. I am dismayed at the vitriol playing out on Facebook against the BOE for approving the Mutual Agreement with Dr. White. Do these people read the papers? Do they attend board meetings or listen to them? If so, how many? Have they bothered to follow the issues that this board has been dealing with? As an elderly resident/parent who has watched the departure of 4, soon to be 5, superintendents over the last 12 years -- Mary Curley, Jim Tenbusch, Bob Sabatino, Renee Schuster and soon to be Don White -- I can say that with the exception of Dr. Curley and Dr. Sabatino, the BOE's made the right decisions. Dr. Curley was driven out after 7 years of hard work filled with accomplishments in which multiple referenda were passed, new schools built, old schools renovated, gifted programs implemented at the middle schools and just when she was settling in to focus on broader curriculum improvements, the SPED heavy BOE drove her out. Next came Dr. Tenbusch, who was hired because of his tech and sped background. He left just shy of one year into a 3 year contract. Just google his name and you will see that trouble followed his departure from D181. Parents who attended an HMS meeting at which parents' concerns about a student's "hit list" were addressed by him, will recall the inappropriate statements he made during the meeting, shortly after which he announced his resignation. Certainly not the BOE's fault. Next came Dr. Sabatino, who was hired on an interim basis, since he was a retired superintendent. He was fabulous and kept the district afloat while decisions were made about who to hire on a permanent basis. Certainly not the BOE's fault that he couln't work full time or stay indefinitely. Next came Dr. Schuster and the HMS mess, including her comment about there not being any mold at HMS or she would have smelled it. That's a comment that a teacher brought to the BOE's attention at a public board meeting, shortly after which the building was shown to be over 70% infested with mold requiring the closure of the building and millions spent on remediation work. And then within one month of the reopening of HMS, she announced her resignation which was announced as a mutual agreement so she didn't have to pay $20,000 to the BOE as required under her contract, so she could move back to St. Louis and take care of her elderly parents. Seems likely that in Tenbush and Schuster's cases, the public announcements didn't really tell the full truth of the circumstances behind the BOE's accepting their resignations, but the bottom line is that the district was better off with the departure of these leaders.
Now the BOE has announced yet another mutual agreement to end a superintendent relationship -- White's. There has been alot of vitriol spewed on facebook and on the streets of Hinsdale since Monday about how the BOE has a vendetta against him and it was unfair to terminate him for making a clerical mistake regarding the publication of the HMS referendum notice. I just shake my old head when I hear this because people are pretty naive if they think that anyone would fire a superintendent over a clerical mistake. Shortly after reading the news coverage on the accountability committee's report, I went to the D181 website and plowed through all the material that is posted. I then listened to podcasts of the committee meetings and discussions the full board had. I have the time, since I am retired and my kids are grown and flown. I have to say, that I was really disappointed to learn that Dr. White didn't just make a mistake, but he never told the board about it. Why didn't he? Everyone in town has been up in arms over the lawsuit that followed the mistake, but people seem to overlook that the district's bond lawyers refused to sell the HMS bonds after the mistake was discovered and long before a lawsuit was filed, because the legality of the election results were questionable. In fact, the board had to have its lawyers seek something called curative legislation to declare the election results valid. And did Dr. White tell the BOE about his mistake at any point during this whole mess? No he didn't. His silence was the same as lying. Covering up facts is the same as lying. Silence is the same as lying. So do I blame the board for not trusting him? No I don't. And I am sure that there is much more going on that this lie, since lots of my young neighbors have complained to me for years about the curriculum mess that continued under his leadership. So, no, I don't blame the board for doing their job. It is a tough job. A thankless job. A volunteer job. I thank them for doing what they concluded was the right thing for the district. And I thank Dr. White for agreeing to leave. Plus he is getting paid a bonus for agreeing to leave. Not what I would have included in his agreement, but if it was needed to allow the district to move forward, then so be it. 
The phrase revolving door has been used to describe what's happened in D181. I challenge people to explain why Tenbusch, Schuster or White should have stayed and how that would have actually been good for the district. November 2, 2017

As always, SOUND OFF!




Tuesday, October 31, 2017

White Out! Superintendent to leave D181 on June 30, 2018

Well, it's official.  At last night's D181 Board Meeting, the board voted to approve "An Agreement to Mutually Terminate" ("Mutual Termination Agreement") Don White's contract on June 30, 2018.

We will let the facts speak for themselves and believe that the article published by the Hinsdale Doings this morning lays out the relevant facts.

Here is the link to the Doing's article:  10/31/2017 Doings Article.

Last night, we listened to the podcast of the meeting, as did hundreds of other community members.  (As of this posting, 490 people have accessed it.) The podcast can be accessed at:  10/30/17 Board meeting podcast.  Jump ahead to Counter 4:03:30 to listen to the public meeting that started around 9 pm.  

The Mutual Termination Agreement approved by 4 board members --  Burns, Gray, Patel and Kleber --  is available for the community to read on Board Docs at the following link:  Mutual Termination Agreement.  Board Members Turek and Giltner voted no. Board Member Lucht was absent. (We would also note that it appears Turek left the meeting right after the vote to approve the agreement, since he was declared absent during roll call votes that followed on other agenda items.  That, in our opinion was an unprofessional reaction to the majority's approval of the Mutual Termination Agreement, but Turek's childish behavior has become a norm that we will simply ignore as we continue to count the days until HE is no longer on the board.)

In addition to staying until June 30, 2018, the Mutual Termination Agreement provides a monetary cash buyout for White. If we are reading Section 4 of the agreement correctly, he is getting a $100,000 "severance payment" if he is unemployed on September 1, 2018.  If he is employed by that date, but is making $100,000 or less than $246,000 in base salary, he will be paid the difference up to $100,000 (minus tax withholdings).  There are also provisions to provide him with on-going insurance coverage through June 30, 2019 should he be unemployed, or if insurance from his new employer is not deemed "comparable" to the benefits he received in D181.  Further, he will be given a cash payment for unused vacation days.  

Wow.  Looks like he hit the jackpot.  We can only wonder what prompted the board to agree to pay him a big fat cash payment in addition to allowing him to stay through June 30, 2018, but at least he will be gone. 

Maybe we will learn more about what happened in executive session from the "leaker."

Yes, that's right folks, yesterday, a facebook comment made on the Vote Yes for HMS facebook page outed a male board member as leaking confidential executive session information that only board members should have been privy to.  Specifically, in response to comments about whether the 10/30/17 agenda item "Approval of Administrator Separation/Settlement Agreement" was about White,  a person commented:

"After talking with a board member this is the topic and don white does need support. He said he believes in him but he’s in the minority. Ugh."

The fact that one of the men on the board leaked executive session confidential information is deeply concerning, especially in light of the language in Section 8 of the Mutual Termination Agreement that prohibits any board member or White from disparaging each other AND limits comments by the parties to the agreement to the contents in the attached "Exhibit A" -- a Recomendation letter by the BOE for White to use in his employment search -- and "Exibit B" -- the Press Release read by Board President Burns during last night's meeting.  

Clearly, the Board AND White intended for there to be limited information released. But not withstanding the language in the Mutual Termination Agreement, it is a violation of board member fiduciary duties to disclose information discussed in executive sessions, especially regarding personnel matters.  It is now clear that at least one of the men on the board went rogue and decided to try and stop the Mutual Termination Agreement from getting approved by inciting public outcry at last night's meeting. 

The identity of the board member who leaked is already circulating in the community, but since we cannot with 100% certainty confirm his identity, we will not name him, but leave it to our readers to come to the same conclusion we have.  

Looking ahead, the Board should move swiftly to begin a search for White's replacement.  We urge the board to hire someone who will not just bring his "buddies" over from a prior district, but will make curriculum his/her focus and will find a way to balance the budget.   For those of you who listened to last night's meeting until the end, you heard that there is a large, multi-million looming deficit the Board will have to deal with in the next year.  It turns out that while the community has been doing a "happy dance" about building a bright and shiny new HMS, the other 8 schools have been allowed to degrade, insufficient money has been budgeted on White's watch to pay for the needed repairs (which include 2 new roofs  for the Lane and Elm) and now the district cannot afford to undertake the needed repairs without going into deficit.

Bottom line, to fund needed repairs at our other schools, there will need to be cuts.  And that will not be an easy task since the majority of the budget goes to pay teacher/administator/staff salaries and benefits.  The board will face a tough challenge to balance the budget without impacting the programs and services we have all grown to expect for our children. 

We urge everyone to start paying attention to issues that go beyond the HMS build.  Maybe then the parents who voiced their support for retaining White, will begin to understand that all is not rosy in D181 and there may have been many good reasons to "Mutually Terminate" his relationship.

As always, SOUND OFF!


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses. Sorry Dr. White, We are not buying them, although it appears Giltner and Turek have.

Yesterday the Bond Referendum Accountability Committee held it's third meeting to decide what should go into its final report.  We were unable to attend in person, but have now listened to the podcast of the meeting.  It is posted on the D181 website in 2 parts.    Below are the links that we encourage you to listen to.

9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 1
9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 2

In addition, here is the link to the news article published in the Hinsdale Doings.  It provides a good summary of the meeting:  9/26/17 Doings Article.  As you read the rest of our post, please keep in mind what Board President Burns told the reporter following the meeting:  

"What I didn't hear was him was him was accepting responsiblity for the error," Burns said Tuesday morning, after White read a statement at a Monday meeting of the district's Board Referendum Review and Accountability Committee.  "I believe the biggest issue is that even when all of this came to light, there was no disclosure to the board," Burns said.  "There's a difference between a legal responsbility and a fiduiary responsibility, and I don't believe Dr. White fulfilled his fiduciary responsibility because there wasn't disclosure to the board."  (Source:  9/26/17 Doings Article written by Chuck Fieldman.)

So what exactly did Dr. White say during the meeting?  In the interest of full transparency, we have transcribed most of the 8 minute statement he made at the beginning of the Accountability Committee meeting.  For those of you who want to listen to his full statement, it begins at Counter 01:00 and goes to 09:00 at the following link:  9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 1.

Following the transcription, we will first book end Dr. White's statement with one made by Committee Member Meeta Patel at the conclusion of the meeting. Next we will provide OUR opinions on Dr. White's various representations and excuses made in connection with his failure to follow the instructions given to him in the August 19, 2016 letter from the Board's attorney, Hauser Izzo.   (Link to letter: Click and go to P.24 of the 8/9/2017 Summary: Legal Notice and Related Procedures

Finally, we will report on the actions taken by the full Board of Education during their regular business meeting last night, which in our opinion, establish that two board members, Richard Giltner and Marty Turek, have lost sight of their fiduciary obligations to the District.

Dr. White's 9/25/17 Statement to the Accountability Committee:

For the first 1 minute and 38 seconds, Dr. White thanked the Committee members for their service.  The substance of his statement begins at Counter 01:38 at which point he states:

"My statement this evening is not intended to be a point by point response to information found on Board Docs, nor is it intended to be a thorough response to the conclusions being drawn by members of this committee. Frankly, that activity would take much more time than we have this evening and would also need to include others.  In addition, I am trying to do my best to participate in a way that is productive so that we can fulfill what I thought was at the core of the work of this committee, that being to reflect on the past and develop recommendations for the future.

I would also like to add that I am not trying to be defiant in this response but I feel the need to at least express my point of view regarding the draft conclusions that are being discussed.  Next I would like to share that i do not believe it is the district's responsibility to monitor the work of outside entities, however, I am not attempting to minimize the importance of this situation and process for out district.  Nor am I attempting to diminish my responsibility for making sure that we do our best to learn from the past and make warranted improvements.

In a perfect world, the work of this committee would not have been necessary, however, we do not live in a perfect world.  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The BOE is Not Responsible for Dr. White's "Mistake."

Earlier this evening we received a comment that is so powerful, it must stand alone.
Anonymous said...
I had a recent conversation with a neighbor-a Hinsdale tax payer-who supported Don White. The conversation centered around the fact that she felt no one person should take the "fall" for the mistakes made and that Dr White is not alone in his responsibility for having missed the notice period and not admitting his fault. She cited the previous BOE as well.

My response to this was to be angry but then after careful thought, here is what it comes down to--

BOE is made up of elected officials who serve at the pleasure of the tax payer and who draw no salary, benefits or any other type of privilege or compensation. It is the highest volunteer role of our school district. While I believe our previous BOE could have spent more time following up and reviewing documents before we went down this rabbit hole, the bottom line is-Dr. White serves at the pleasure of our district and yet he is a PAID official who draws not only a commanding salary and benefits but is the leader and figure head of our district. He is supposed to be a beacon of fairness, truth, leadership and trust for our district.

He is supposed to be someone to whom students, teachers, faculty, tax payers, and community members can look to for direction and guidance on all issues that relate to our schools and our district as a whole.

This latest lack of attention to detail, untruth, and frankly abuse of power is just one failure. What about when last year he released our children's date of births; personal records; etc by releasing directory information? What about the fact that he is at the helm of a department that has pretty much all quit and vacated? When corporate culture is suffering, look to the top--the tone is set by the "top dog".

What about the fact that we have lost time, tax payer dollars, drawn our focus away from curriculum and instruction, lost staff, and now have been suffering from legal fees all attributed to what is understandably a mistake, but a costly mistake?

The truth is mistakes happen. Smart leaders, low level employees, teachers, students, parents--we all make mistakes. But when it is YOUR JOB and you are paid to be the leaders at the helm and you fail to do your due diligence and responsibility, the choice is simple. The answer is clear.

Dr White should be held accountable for his wrong doings and his mistakes. Dr White shouldn't be allowed to waste tax payer dollars and cost our district months in legal hours, fees and delays that impact our students' education.

I applaud the hard work of the Accountability Committee. I applaud them. That's a volunteer role too by the way.
September 24, 2017 at 7:09 PM
 Delete

Newsflash: Bond Accountability Committee Draft Final Report Available on Board Docs and Full BOE Actions Now in Play.

This morning we received the following comment from community member Yvonne Mayer. We are publishing it below to put all our readers on notice of the important meeting that will take place tomorrow, September 25, 2017. The Bond Accountability Committee will meet to discuss the Draft Final Report at 5 pm at the D181 Administration Center (115 W. 55th Street, Clarendon Hills).  

Yvonne Mayer said...


Please consider posting this as a free standing post. I published this on my Facebook Account this morning.

D181 Bond Accountability Committee UPDATE

For those of you who have been following the disappointing findings of the D181 Accountability Committee, below is a link to the draft Final Report that the committee members will be discussing on Monday, 9/25 at 5 pm at the Administration Center.
I say "disappointing" above, because no one in the community could have possibly expected the committee members to uncover documents that reveal that the superintendent had direction and knowledge to ensure that the Referendum Publication Notice be published in a timely and accurate manner, thus preventing all of the chaos that ensued from December 2016 through June 2017 in connection with the HMS project.

According to news articles published in the Doings and The Hinsdalean, the full BOE must now determine what actions, if any, if must take to ensure that there is true accountability.

I, for one, have confidence that the BOE will take approrpriate steps. The work done so far by at least 2 of the 3 committee members establish that they are taking the work of the committee seriously and are not going to condone any type of cover up in connection with the information they discovered. Contrary to what D181 Board Member Turek has publicly stated (and remember, he is not on the committee), the work of the committee was not a witch hunt. It was the work of a committee established and approved by the full BOE, as a condition of the settlement agreement arising out of the HMS litigation, litigation, which it now appears could possibly have been avoided if the superintendent had followed direction and once he did not, disclosed to the full BOE his "mistake."

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/ARHCKY318098/$file/2017_09_23_Bond_Referendum_Review_Committee_Final_Report_with_Member_Comments_Redlined_%26_Highlighted.pdf

As one committee member has stated in the draft Final Report: ""It is this committee member’s opinion that the most serious issue this report addresses is Dr. White’s failure to disclose informaiton in connection with the publication error, where information was kept from the BOE for an extended period of time. The findings by two committee members upon close review of district-provided documents, showing that Dr. White was in fact informed of the publication requirements by the BOE’s legal counsel dating back to August 19, 2016, was not only unexpected but disappointing. Dr. White had a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the accurate and timely publication of the election notice and he did not meet that responsibility. What is at issue here is that throughout the process, Dr. White has not been forthright in sharing this information with the BOE dating back to December 2016. There have been a multitude of opportunities to share this information through the litigation process, during Accountability Committee meetings and in the reports generated by the district in response to questions raised by the committee. At no point did Dr. White come forward with this information. This has resulted in a loss of trust in his leadership. The implications of this should be discussed by the full board."

Here are links to the news articles referenced in the comment:

9/12/2017 Doings Article

Hinsdalean Article from 9/21/2017 edition

We have now had a chance to read the Draft Final Report the Committee will be discussing tomorrow.  We would like to highlight some additional information.

The Draft Final Report outlines the following timeline for the committee's next steps:
  • *September 15, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to provide a draft report to the committee members. (This document and the inclusion of all previous related materials is intended to meet that need.)
  • *September 22, 2017 - Deadline for the Committee to provide comments on the draft report (via individual response to Dr. White).
    *September 23, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to provide the committee with a document compiling the individual comments.
  • *September 25, 2017 (5pm) - Committee meeting to review the final report.
  • *September 29, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to create the final report, as stipulated in the settlement agreement.
    *October 20, 2017 - Deadline for the final Committee meeting, as stipulated in the Settlement Agreement. 
It appears that only 2 of the commttee members, Jennifer Burns and Meeta Patel, proposed extensive additions to the 9/15/17 draft prepared by the administration.  The third commitee member, Richard Giltner, only made 8 brief comments, 5 of which were his statement of disagreement with findings in the report. We are grateful for the additions made by Ms. Burns and Ms. Patel, since it is clear that the draft prepared by the administration did not provide the detail required for a report of this importance. In particular, the section of the report that addresses the Publication Error and Dr. White's failure to comply with the BOE's attorney's direction to ensure timely and accurate publication of the Rererendum Notice, and his failure to disclose this information to the full BOE, lacked sufficient detail to accurately describe the facts surrounding the committee's findings.

Of course, is anyone surprised by this?

We look forward to listening to the podcast of the meeting to hear what additions/deletions the 3 committee members decide should go into the FINAL report.

We would also like to point out that there are 3 agenda items of interest on the Agenda for Monday's Regular D181 BOE Business Meeting that may be related to the work of the Accountability Committee .

Agenda Item 8B:  Possible Legal Action regarding damages to the District

Agenda Item 8C:  Board Attorney Legal Services Request for Proposal

Agenda Item 8D:  Authorization to Engage Outside Legal Counsel for the Purpose of Providing Legal Guidance on Issues Raised by the Accountability Committee

Agenda Item 8B:  Possible Legal Action regarding damages to the District

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BREAKING NEWS! The Hinsdale Doings Headline says it all: District 181 Superintendent on Hot Seat over Hinsdale Middle School Delay

Rather than write a lengthy post about last night's eye opening Accountability Committee meeting, we are simply going to post a link to the Hinsdale Doing's article that was published this morning and highlight some of the content.  Click on the following link to read about the Committee's smack down of Don White.  

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/burr-ridge/news/ct-dhd-d181-accountability-tl-0914-20170912-story.html (Source:  Hinsdale Doings, 9/12/17 Online Edition.)

We want to highlight what the article reports Board President and Accountability Committee Member Jennifer Burns said during the meeting:

"It's serious that the election commission error could have been prevented, and it could have been fixed, even if it had not been prevented," Burns said. "Along with the letter from our attorney, strongly suggesting that he check things, Dr. White was also notified by the Election Commission with the dates they had planned for publication. The error could have been caught at that time, too."

Also of significance is what Committe Member Patel said during the meeting: 

"There's an issue of trust," Patel said. "We went down a road that could have been avoided. This is the biggest project the district has taken on. Whatever it is, we need to be sure it's done correctly."

We have now listened to the podcast of last night's meeting and can confirm what the Doings reported:

 "Burns said the school board would discuss in closed session the personnel implications associated with the findings of the district's Board Referendum Review and Accountability Committee."

Per the article, when asked about the situation by the Doings Reporter,  Dr. White had no comment.  

All we will say for now about his silence is:  Really?

For those of you who want to listen to the Podcast of the Accountability Committee, it can be accessed at the following link: 

 9/11/17 Bond Accountability Committe Meeting

In our opinion, this is one meeting worth listening to.

Time will tell if Dr. White is held accountable by the full BOE.  We will be waiting, listening and watching to see what will happen next.

In the meantime, SOUND OFF!