Monday, March 24, 2014

UPDATED: Breaking News: Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Doug Eccarius Resigns; All Administrator Contracts Renewed

Tonight, following a very brief Board of Education meeting, Dr. Schuster emailed all parents that the BOE approved a revised calendar. She also informed parents that Doug Eccarius has resigned.  Her email is copied below. The community is still left in the dark about what exactly was on the Personnel Consent agenda that the BOE approved unanimously.  Did the board renew all of the other administrators' contracts for the 2014-2015 school year?  We will have to wait until the administration posts the Personnel Consent Agenda on Board Docs.

UPDATED AT 11:30 P.M.:  The Personnel Consent Agenda that was unanimously approved by the BOE has been posted on Board Docs.  Click to open Consent Agenda.  All Administrator Contracts were renewed for one year terms.  Salaries for the 2014-2015 school year will be determined at a future date.  

Letter from Dr. Schuster:

"Dear District 181 Families,

This evening, the Board of Education approved the following 2013-14 calendar changes, outlined in the attached amended at-a-glance calendar (if no additional emergency days are used):
  • Friday, April 18: This will be an attendance day for HMS only.
  • Friday, May 16: This will be an attendance day for all students.
  • Monday, June 2: This will be an attendance day for all students.
  • Thursday, June 5: This will be a half-day for all students, with a teacher in-service in the afternoon for staff only.
  • Friday, June 6: This will be a half-day for all students (last day of school), with a school improvement day in the afternoon for staff only.
  • Monday, June 9 and Tuesday, June 10: These will be Institute Days for staff only. 
Also, in administrative news, District 181 Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Doug Eccarius has accepted a position as Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources with Indian Prairie School District 204, effective July 1, 2014. Mr. Eccarius has shared a letter (below my signature) with all families. Please join us in wishing Mr. Eccarius well in this new position.

Lastly, as a reminder, the superintendent search survey closes at the end of the day on Tuesday. Thank you for your participation.


Dr. Renée Schuster

- - -

Letter from Mr. Eccarius

Dear District 181 Families,

It is with bittersweet emotions that I am writing to inform you that, this evening, I was approved to serve as the new Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources for Indian Prairie School District 204 in Naperville. My new position begins July 1, 2014.

For the past 11 years, I have been fortunate to serve District 181 as the Assistant Principal at Clarendon Hills Middle School, Principal at The Lane School, Director of Summer School, and currently the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. I have been fortunate to build relationships with eager students, talented staff members, and involved parents. It has been an honor to serve as an administrator in two buildings that are nationally recognized as Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. This is a great community, and I have felt an enormous amount of support from parents and staff.

I am very excited to have the opportunity to serve as a leader in District 204, the district that gave me my first teaching position. I have fond memories of my time there and look forward to the opportunities and challenges that a unit district provides. Indian Prairie School District is a short commute from my residence and serves approximately 29,000 students across Pre-K through twelfth grade. There are 33 schools with close to 3,000 employees. 

During the remainder of the school year, I will continue to keep students, staff, and labor relations as top priorities, as well as preparation for a smooth transition to new leadership for District 181. One of my first priorities will be to assist the District in filling the vacant central office positions with leaders who will continue to help Community Consolidated School District 181 work towards its vision, “to be a school district where all students experience success and grow in excellence.”

Once again, I want to thank you for your constant support over the last eleven years. I am extremely grateful to have been provided the opportunity to serve the District 181 community.


Doug Eccarius
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources"


Anonymous said...

3 down, 2 to go.

Anonymous said...

It's posted. All the contracts were renewed.

Anonymous said...

I like eccarious

Jill Quinones said...

Unfortunately, they have all been renewed with salary "TBD" if you check on Board Docs now. Not that anyone in the audience really knew that was what the BOE was voting on (other than those that knew there needed to be a vote by 4/1) There were about 20 parents in the audience as well as anyone listening at home. Wonder why the BOE couldn't just say that they were voting on a consent agenda that was approving 25 administrator contracts?

Interesting, also, that no one voted NO on any of them. Did they think it needed to be unanimous so as not to scare off future Superintendent candidates? So sad.

Taking out the 12 Building Principals/Asst Principals/HMS Dean, 13 contracts were renewed tonight. These people are currently being paid approximately $1.3 million. This does not include Dr. Russell. Dr. Schuster. I'm assuming they will all be getting raises. I would have liked to hear some discussion in exchange for all of those tax dollars.

Anonymous said...

Doug Eccarius is a huge loss to the District 181 administrative team. No matter what position he has held in our district, he has always done an excellent job. He is a passionate educator, an extremely hard-worker, and has become an increasingly effective leader. He has impressed both parents and staff during his tenure in D181. I wish him the very best, but I am extremely sad to see him go. Maybe we should be asking ourselves as a district what we can do to retain great employees like Mr. Eccarius in the future, rather than watching our best move on to other opportunities in neighboring districts.

Anonymous said...

Did all 7 board members really believe that all of the administrator contracts should be renewed? Or were one, two or three of them bullied by the rest of the board to vote unanimously to approve the renewals? Either way, the board has done the D181 students and teachers a great disservice by renewing the contracts of three central office administrators who have brought no added value to the district, have turned the curriculum upside down and caused harm to students. Shame on the Board.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you're actually proud of this, poster at 9:41. Mr. Eccarius has been in this district for 11 years. Need I remind you that is much longer than many of the parents in this district. He is HIGHLY respected among at the staff in 181. When we start losing administrators with that much time devoted to our district, we need to put on the breaks and take a step back. This is going to anger/upset a lot of people. I caution you to tread lightly and be careful what you wish for. Our administration is being wiped out and I can tell you our teachers are feeling uneasy. Many have stopped making small talk with parents, I have been told that teachers are losing trust in us. Take a look around you building. I KNOW it's happening at at least three elementary schools. I am growing concerned that many of our beloved veteran teachers will follow the lead of these administrators. Our district is hanging by a thread right now and we need to come together to strengthen it, not destroy whatever remains. I hope the bloggers are able to see their hand in all this (as they refer to themselves as "the parents") this isn't a game, these are people's lives and careers. The climate surrounding 181 is uncomfortable to put it mildly.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster at 6:13am, please understand that this is about our children receiving educations with proper math and language arts foundations so that they can have prosperous lives and careers. These administrators are adults who received educations (some of them continue to do so at our expense) playing with the futures of our children for the sake of their personal agendas.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Poster at 6:13: It is so easy to blame "the parents" for providing a much needed forum for parents to exercise their freedom of speech rights and speak loud and clear about the problems that exist in D181 that have been directly hurting their children. But have you considered why that has been necessary? The administration under Dr. Schuster's leadership has slammed doors in their faces. The Board under Mr. Turek's leadership has done the same and publicly attacked those who wanted to engage in public discussion about all of the issues. Parents have written letters to the board, spoken at board meetings, met with administrators, met with board members. And all their efforts have been rebuffed by the administration and board majority. So you ask why have parents set up a blog? Because they are concerned about what is happening in the classroom with the curriculum. Not as a result of the teachers, not as a result of Mr. Eccarius, but as a result of the revolutionary social justice agenda that certain administrators brought to the district less than 2 years ago, and that Dr. Schuster embraced as a solution for all of the problems she'd heard about from parents. As the L4A roll out took place, the administration and board turned a blind eye to data and parent observations and concerns about the negative impact it was having on students on both ends of the spectrum. Rather than address these problems publicly and work TOGETHER (with parents, teachers and administrators) to fix them, parents were shunned, threatened and told to shut up. The administration under Dr. Schuster's leadership created the curriculum issues The parents finally decided to seek another avenue to get the word out, since the traditional ones were not working -- at all. The parent blog did not exist 18 months ago. It is a direct result of Dr. Schuster's leadership and the board's refusal to openly address the problems caused by the L4A program. Too bad if you don't like that. Maybe your child hasn't been affected, but mine have and will continue to be unless a new Superintendent is hired who will right this ship, to hold his/her administrators accountable. Yes, it is unfortunate that Mr. Eccarius is leaving. He was beloved and will be missed. Yes, he was here for 11 years and has chosen to move on to a bigger district, close to his home where I would bet he is getting a big pay hike or has the potential to down the road. No one knows the reasons for his leaving. Perhaps he was fed up with what he has seen going on in the Central Office -- not with the departures of others, but with the conduct of his colleagues. Guess we'll never really know unless perhaps the board conducts an exit interview and he is candid with them. But that information will never be made public and the community will never really know.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if Mr. Eccarius has a tuition reimbursement contract with D181?

Anonymous said...

I thought he was going to school while working in D181 but don't know the details. The tuition reinbursement policy isn't working. There is no loyality anymore.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he does have a tutition reimbursement contract. I just searched board docs and his most recent tuition reimbursement payment was in August 2013. If he has the same payback provision in his contract, he will owe D181 100% of the tuition that he's been reimbursed. Now the only question is, will the board enforce the provision in his contract and in Kevin Russell's contract? Last poster is right, the tuition benefit is not working. Wonder if the board kept it in the contracts they approved last night?

Anonymous said...

Did anyone attend the Superintendent Search focus group last night?

Anonymous said...

Yes. There was about 20 parents, 2 teachers and a principal. It was a wonderful open discussion with caring people running it. In stark contrast to the boe meeting that followed.

Anonymous said...


Very disappointed there was no discussion over the consent agenda. I just can't believe all the members wanted all the contracts renewed. It is sad. The BOE is looking out for the adminstation's back much more than the children and tax payers of D181. It will be beyond outrageous if they don't make Mr. Eccarious and Dr. Russell pay back their tuition costs-even though they were well liked. That's our money.

Yvonne Mayer said...

I did. There were about 20 parents there by the time it ended -- lasted about 90 minutes. Two of the search firm reps were there. They asked the group to address 3 questions:
1. What are strengths of D181?
2. What challenges/issues will the new superintendent face?
3. What qualities/skills should the new superintendent possess?
The group made the following main points:
1. Strengths: Teachers, students, parents, principals who are all committed to the district.
2. Challenges/issues: Curriculum, specifically the "mess" created by the Learning for All Plan. Need to make changes to the plan so that it addresses needs of children at the top end and bottom end, and the inclusive model currently in place is not doing this. Lack of trust in certain administrators. Lack of forum to openly discuss issues with the board and administration -- don't want orchestrated community engagement opportunities. Lack of accountability. Facilities issues - specifically HMS. No strong leadership in place right now since many administrators currently don't have the skills or background for their position (for example, need an assessment person with a background in statistics and assessment).
3. Skills/qualities needed in new superintendent:
Strong curriculum background, proven past successful superintendent in a district similar to D181's, strong leader who will show sensitivity, person willing to publicly engage the community in town hall type settings and not in rigid comm. engagement forums, a person who will take time to understand the "values" in our community and not try and impose models that are better suited for other communities, a person who will hold staff accountable and will hire administrators who have the skills needed for the specific job, someone who will come in and evaluate the Learning for All Plan and make needed changes quickly and not over a long period of time since students only have a limited time in our district and only one year per grade, someone who will be able to "heal" the rifts created by the current administration, someone who the community can trust, someone who understands the financial challenges facing the district with a current board that has not been levying to the max but limiting the tax burden on taxpayers by limiting the levy.

The BWP representatives explained that in addition to the parent focus group, they have held focus groups with the PTO presidents, teachers and administrators. They indicated that they were hearing many of the same themes from the different groups.

They also disclosed that they have already received 30 (please someone correct me if I am wrong on this number) applications and that they are actively recruiting sitting superintendents. They say they hope to begin interviewing applicants in the next week to narrow the group they present to the board for further interviews. They were upbeat about this. One parent did ask if the acrimony shown at board meetings or evident on a "blog" is going to hurt the applicant pool. They were candid in their answer that they know of at least one candidate that has declined to consider D181 because of the acrimony, but they did not specify what specific reasons were given.

I have to say that I was disappointed that more parents did not attend the focus group. In a district of 4000 students, more parents need to get involved in such an important task as selecting the educational leader.

Yvonne Mayer said...

One more thing. The BWP reps said they've advised the board to wait until after the new superintendent is hired to fill the vacancy created by Dr. Russell's departure. They said it was important to allow the new superintendent to select the person to fill this important curriculum position.

Time for an Audit of the Curriculum Changes in D181 said...

Here is info from a similar parent blog in neighboring District 109 in Pleasantdale.

Take the time to read this series/timeline of events. Looks like it took an external audit to uncover misrepresentations made by their superintendent. Now, both the board and superintendent have had to own this action. Perhaps it is time D181 conducted some audits of its own....

Anonymous said...

Sound familiar to our district? Only difference is that D181 refuses to conduct a meaningful satisfaction survey. (Scroll all the way through for comments about the leadership in 107).

Anonymous said...

Keep reading "older posts" on the D107 blog. The posts show the rest of the satisfaction survey results. WHY hasn't D181 done this? In fact, during the focus group last night, the BWP reps asked if there had been a satisfaction survey done and at least one of them said he had done so regularly in his past district where he'd been the superintendent.
You'll also notice on the 107 blog that they compare their issues to ours. So it seems other parents in other districts have felt the need to speak out on a blog.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Everyone should read the Pleasantdale 107 blog. They've just run a 12 day series. I've quickly skimmed it and will set aside a couple hours later today to read through it, but the last person who commented on the Parent Blog is right, the 2 districts sound very similar. I agree that the type of satisfaction survey 107 conducted is sorely needed in D181 -- for parents and teachers.

Anonymous said...

It has been uncomfortable for parents for 4 years! And really, who cares about "small talk" when the important communication doesn't even get heard! Children's experiences in school are directly, and negatively being affected by administrators (not Doug) who have been making terrible and self serving decisions. He had seen the writing in the wall back when Janet Stutz was still here. He probably was hopeful that things would change for the better then, but it never transpired.

This is our children's childhood and their community. You are not a parent of elementary school children affected by the L4A plan and their poor leadership, so you cannot see how these children have been feeling uncomfortable in their own classrooms. Nor are you working at a school to see an entire classroom filled with kids being forced to lose after school playtime because their administrators set them up for failure. You are comfortably in the administration's offices, or on the tennis courts, far from the battle zone. Doug, a former math teacher himself, could clearly see that poor decisions were being made and that common sense and research was being ignored.

Just like the good families who are starting to move out of this town, or who realize they need to send their children to private schools in order to avoid the disaster called D181, ethical staff are starting to leave too. The failure of all administrators to address serious parent and teacher concerns is what is making teachers uncomfortable because staff is fearful that if they stand up to Renee Schuster, they will be fired. So, like the parents who move, many staff will leave, too. That is what happens when no one stands up to the school bully. You can live in discomfort, you can move, or you can stand up to her. We have tried negotiations for years, but they have failed. Now, parents have 2 options: stand on their feet and fight, or live on their knees and submit to ineptitude.

If you are finally starting to feel the heat from parents who are tired of being dismissed, and IF you can find a better job, you might want to seriously consider Doug's lead. We know ANY new administrator will be better than Renee Schuster, and we need the whole team of current administrators to drop their self serving agendas and to start putting our children first. Last night, our BOE failed in their duty to our children, and approved the contracts of inexperienced, poorly qualified administrators. Until those administrators and Board Members resign, publicly apologize for their dismissive attitude towards parents and teachers, and, finally, announce that they will end the L4A plan, get ready for the temperatures to soar. If you personally can't stand the heat, do us all a favor and get out of the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

This letter will resonate with many, the concerns eerily "aligned" with ours as a district.
Our concerns are also echoed in the superintendent search criteria posted by the Frankfort district and by the parents on the Pleasantdale blog.

As one previous poster noted, the issues and challenges our district faces, e.g. lack of proper curriculum, lack of professional development, one size fits all instruction, the list goes on and on.... are not unique to our district and can't all be addressed at the district level. We have the learning for all plan disaster but common core is also in play and is intertwined with L4A directives. Not to say that our admin hasn't fallen far, far short of the challenges and has made grievous mistakes, but action is also needed at the state level. Please consider writing our state representatives, rallying support throughout all public school districts to slow down/re-consider common core implementation until our teachers and schools are adequately prepared. We are not alone.

Anonymous said...

As long as Kurt Schneider is in D181 L4A will continue. He is the chief salesperson for this mess.

Anonymous said...

With 3 administrators leaving and the rest having had their contracts renewed for another year, maybe we should find a way to work with these people and do what we can to make this work. Continuing anomosity and the extreme dislike for some administrators, will not make things better, in fact, it may be detrimental to our cause with 3 new administrators joining our district. There's nothing that can be done to salvage this year but much can be done to start out on a better footing next school year. We CAN make a difference but it has to be a positive difference. We CAN help improve the moral in this district if we all work together!

Anonymous said...

Working together implies give and take by both sides. Recent history suggests that many D181 administrators approach parents with annoyance at best and disdain at worst. I think most parents started out positive and wanted to work with the administrators, only to be shunned and ridiculed. It is hard to remain positive in that kind of environment, particularly when one is worried about one's child and his education.

Hopefully the new Superintendent will be able to build consensus among all stakeholders, understand that educating our children is a team effort, and that an "I know everything and I'm going to do what I think is best no matter what you say" approach is not the way to go.

It will be welcome relief to frustrated parents if the new Superintendent is someone who is willing to actually listen and provide real evidence/support for his/her chosen approach. That would be the best start to next school year! And maybe temperatures above freezing......

Leslie Gray said...

I agree with the 9:07pm post. The search team last night suggested that it is a good idea to conduct a comprehensive survey before a new superintendent comes in so that all stakeholders are heard and the new superintendent gets a complete picture of the situation at hand. They also said that these types of surveys are best done when handled by a third party, and that they have done them in the past. I encourage our BOE to follow up on this. Also, we should have a town hall meeting where there can be free two way discourse without the rule restrictions of a BOE meeting. I also think an independent audit of the curriculum would be a good idea. When all stakeholders are heard and addressed, then the healing can begin - and the sooner the better. Our children have no more time to waste. This district is at a crossroads, and I think all interested parties would welcome a fresh start. We have wonderful students, staff, teachers, and parents. We also have an abundance of resources. There is no reason that our schools cannot all be in the top 20 again. But to do this we need mutual respect and a thorough analysis of the current state of affairs.

HMS Parent said...

Bloggers: There has been a lot of news coverage lately on states opting out of common core. Indiana did so just a few days ago. Can you write a post that addresses this and maybe provide links to related articles? Thanks!

The Parents said...

HMS Parent: We will develop a post on Common Core. Thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

This is a 2 part post. Here is an article published in USA Today dated ~2 years ago. The BOE should be examining districts who implemented similar LFA programs years ago and who have seen the product of such programs.

Submitted by Amy Alex

Here is the copied/pasted article and the link:

Column: Why our kids hate math
By Patrick Welsh Updated 7/9/2012 6:50 PM
When summer school opened Monday at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va., where I teach, remedial courses in math had more students than any other subject.
That is because of the high failure rate not only in math courses, but also on the state's standard of learning exams in math. The summer school pattern is similar in most high schools around the country where kids will be trying to learn the math they never figured out during the year.
I worry that we're pushing many kids to grasp math at higher levels before they are ready. When they struggle, they begin to dread math, and eventually we lose thousands of students who could be the scientists and engineers of tomorrow. If we held back and took more time to ground them in the basics, we could turn them on to math.
The experience of T.C. Williams teacher Gary Thomas, a West Point graduate who retired from the Army Corps of Engineers as a colonel, is emblematic of the problem. This year, Thomas had many students placed in his Algebra II class who slid by with D's in Algebra I, failed the state's Algebra I exam and were clueless when it came to the most basic pre-requisites for his course. "They get overwhelmed. Eventually they give up," Thomas says.
English and social studies teachers face the same problem when school officials, more interested in boasting about the numbers of kids in higher-level courses than in what they really learn, place students without the requisite skills in advanced placement classes.

Anonymous said...

Push to younger students
Pushing students to the next level of math before they are ready is endemic in schools across the country, and is most pronounced in the move to have younger and younger children take algebra.
The National Center for Education Statistics reports that from 1990 to 2007, the percentage of eighth-graders taking algebra went from 16% to 31%. California has been in the forefront of pushing kids into algebra: By 2009, 54% of its eighth-graders were taking algebra, the result of an initiative by California's State Board of Education. Why the early push? It's driven by the fact that some younger students wanted, and were capable of, more challenging math. But that's not true for all students.
My colleague Sally Miller has taught almost every high school math offering. She lives and breathes her subject, but she is the first to warn that too much math too soon is counterproductive. When Miller asked one of her geometry classes what 8 x 4 was, no one could come up with the answer without going to a calculator. "In the lower grades, more time has to be devoted to practicing basic computational skills so that they are internalized and eventually come naturally."
Miller, like every math teacher I talked to, says schools are pushing too many middle-school kids into algebra. "Many of the concepts in algebra are abstract," Miller says, "and if children are not developmentally ready to deal with abstraction, you can turn them off to math forever. Even the best students who can pull off A's in eighth-grade algebra by just memorizing eventually end up realizing they did not really learn it."
Confidence undermined
A Duke University study of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district's attempt to have algebra taught in eighth grade echoes what Miller says. Duke professor Charles Clotfelter, who led the study, concluded that the district's policy "had a negative effect on most students, especially those students who weren't stellar in math background. … For whatever reason, their preparation or their confidence wasn't sufficient to let them do well … and it knocked them back on their heels."
It's not just policymakers and school administrators who are responsible for pushing too much math too soon. Once parents who are anxious about their child's academic success see an advanced course offered, they want their child to be part of it lest he or she be held back, the victim of "low expectations."
And when those same students aren't able to keep up in their classes, parents increasingly are turning to private math tutors — who get hourly fees that rival those of doctors — to get students to understand what they couldn't grasp in class.
What is needed when it comes to math, indeed to all schooling, is a little more common sense and honesty. I wonder how many of those members of the California State Board of Education who pushed for all of the state's eighth-graders to take algebra could come close to passing an end-of-the- year Algebra I test?
I suspect very few, unless they were mathematicians, and yet they subscribe to the misplaced belief that algebra is essential to the future success of 13- or 14-year-olds, a canard closely linked to the other great myth: that every high school student must go on to college to be successful. In fact, for the majority of jobs, math is not included in the top five qualities that employers seek in their workers.
It is time to ensure that all kids absorb the fundamentals of math — computation, fractions, percentages and decimals — first before moving on to the next level. Otherwise, as with remedial summer courses, we're teaching them twice what they should have learned the first time around.
Patrick Welsh is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors.

HMS Parent said...

Here is the latest blog post from our neighbor District 107. You could change the names and it would sound like a description of much that is happening in D181. We definitely need to have an audit of our curriculum from an outsider to see if D181 is truly "aligning" itself with Common Core Standards.


Pleasantdale Board Members Overrule Superintendent, Question Curriculum!
March 12, 2014

The Doings Weekly
By: Chuck Fieldman | | @chuckwriting

At least two members of the Pleasantdale Elementary School District 107 Board believe the district is playing catch up with its math curriculum because of inaccurate information provided by Superintendent Mark Fredisdorf...

Read the full article here.

Despite spending over $100K in the 2013-2014 school year so far on a curriculum coordinator, a math curriculum audit, professional development, staff surveys, etc. one thing is certainly true:

Superintendent Mark Fredisdorf does not know much about curriculum and instruction!

We could have told the school board that a long time ago and saved the district a lot of money.

Earlier this year, when asked to provide board members with the middle school language arts curriculum, he handed over a pile of papers. There was no mention of curriculum maps, pacing guides, textbooks, etc. Just a pile of about 1,000 worksheets and assessments!

The man has been a fraud for years and sadly it has taken board members this long to finally figure it out. He hides behind a hand picked ineffective working group he calls the curriculum council and uses them to push through his misguided agendas and ill thought out plans. Then when things go wrong, he has someone to blame it on. Recent survey results indicated only 11 members of his entire staff of over 100 feel that this group is effective. If that isn't a wakeup call, we don't know what is!

Hopefully this community will wake up and demand a change rather than continuing to spend $250K a year on nonsense.

Anonymous said...

Sounds exactly like our school district!! Except, of course, their Board of Education and Superintendent apologized to their community. In D181, all they do is cross their arms, plug their ears, and blame parents.

Any new superintensdent will look like a rock star in compassion to what we have had these last few years! Parents are ready and looking forward to a change in leadership.

Anonymous said...

The big question is can our BOE be trusted to approve a qualified candidate? These are the same people who welcomed Schneider and Benitis with open arms and have been blindly following every initiative since they were hired without even pausing to consider other options.

Anonymous said...

I certainly don't think the BOE should know every detail of what's happening in the district-but I know they received letters pertaining to PARCC . I thought it was interesting that Ms. Garg would ask questions regarding this (because parents were asking BOE to ask!) and the rest of the BOE wouldn't engage because they really weren't prepared. Why not admit you know some, but not everything..that's understandable, but it comes off as if you have no clue what's happening in our district and really don't care.

Anonymous said...

Dawn Benaitis, director of learning for D181, is quoted in today's Hinsdalean as saying "the teacher's role is moving from being sage on the stage to serving as guide on the side."

This comment troubles me for several reasons. First, common core is a set of standards, but it does not dictate how those standards need to be taught. Therefore, this shift in teaching style at D181 is not required by common core. Next, I have huge problems with the workshop model this district has adopted. I don't want 9 year old children teaching my child - I want my child taught by a teacher. I also think teachers should have the autonomy to teach in the style that best works for him or her.

I googled Dawn's quote and the below article popped up. I'm interested in other reader's thoughts and reactions.

Anonymous said...



Twenty years ago, a small article by Alison King appeared in the journal College Teaching. It was titled ”From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.” That article would come to represent the big debate on education reform.

Today, that debate rages on as educators argue over the merits of traditional teaching versus constructivist teaching approaches. A lot of folks have anchored themselves firmly in the camp of Guide on the Side. More often than not, those who hold an either-or view on education are administrators and policymakers who haven’t taught a day in their life.

In reality, Sage on the Stage vs. Guide on the Side are political talking points. In reality, BOTH approaches to teaching are necessary. In reality, good teachers select the approach that works best for them and for the content that they are teaching.

There is plentiful research that supports direct instruction (aka the sage approach) as an effective and efficient way to teach students in situations where they hold little or no prior knowledge, and in situations where skills need to be taught to the point of automaticity. An obvious example is the foundational skills needed for math and reading. In higher education, lectures are the most common form of direct instruction. Lectures are efficient and have a place in virtually all content areas. Sometimes they are the most appropriate method of teaching. For example, I had a music history professor as an undergrad who only lectured. I learned a lot in that class just by listening and taking notes (granted, he was a phenomenal storyteller).

There is less research that supports the effectiveness of constructivist approaches. However, we do know that constructivist teaching is a better fit for content that requires problem solving and critical thinking skills. That being said, virtually all content teaching needs to start out with a direct instructional approach and move towards a constructivist approach. In other words, teachers generally need to provide a more direct instructional approach in the beginning, and then slowly pass the responsibility of learning over to the students.

How would this work for information literacy instruction?

First, you need to consider the automatic skills that students should have before they can advance to higher order thinking skills. For information literacy, these skills include understanding and using search syntax correctly, knowing how to navigate databases, and knowing the criteria for evaluating information (e.g. CRAAP test). These are the skills that require direct instruction. Fortunately, these are also the skills that can be most easily taught through tutorials, which are a form of direct instruction.

Once students have the foundational skills in place, they are ready to move on to higher order thinking skills. Because information literacy is a critical thinking skill, constructivist approaches should be applied (e.g. inquiry-based or problem-based learning). To ultimately be information literate, a student needs to have established schemata about the research and writing process. Schemata allow students to identify solutions for new problems based on past experiences. Inquiry-based learning can promote the building of new schemata, which is why constructivist approaches work better for this level of information literacy instruction.

Anonymous said...


The need for constructivist approaches in information literacy instruction is why it can be difficult to teach. Developing constructivist approaches requires a lot of preparation. Students should have just enough information to be able to move to the next level, and you typically answer questions with more questions to foster deeper thinking. Constructivist approaches also take longer, which is why one-shot sessions just don’t work well.

I think information literacy is in a particularly tough spot regarding successful approaches to teaching it. Like virtually all content, it relies on both direct instruction and constructivist approaches. However, it simply can’t be learned without adequate opportunity for those constructivist approaches. One possible solution might be flipped instruction. Another possible solution is the fully integrated approach I wrote about in a previous post on Google Docs (in fact, fully integrated is more in line with situated learning – a truly constructivist approach).

The continuing debate over Guide on the Side vs. Sage on the Stage is in my opinion, ridiculous. Both approaches are needed for successful learning to take place. So, next time someone asks “Are you a Sage on the Stage or a Guide on the Side?,” simply smile and say “Both!”

Anonymous said...

Hinsdale is a conservative town that is mostly Republican with traditional values. We do not want "cutting edge" teaching or to be "pioneers." We value the traditional way. I wish the administration would stop trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. We are who we are.

jay_wick said...

Probably not the best idea to copy such a long post in its entirety. Even if the stuff is not protected by copyrights it is confusing as to who the "author" is -- Fair Use doctrine Not even nitpicking, just wondering if the anonymous author above really endorses all the ideas of the Designer Librarian ?

I do agree "catch phrases" like "sage on the stage" that denigrate traditional practices smack of intellectual laziness or at least triteness. It is rather foolish to try to claim that traditional instructional methods are suddenly "insufficient". Darned near EVERYONE that works or lives in our district has almost certainly been blessed to receive lots of wisdom in such traditional settings and succeed because of it NOT despite it...

There are LOTS of good ways to engage audiences ranging from preschoolers through elementary aged learners into middle school and beyond with a well crafted oral presentation by a "sage". I would argue that a true "sage" is however quite rare. Further some of the most revered "sages" of history are figures like Socrates who clearly did not just open a fire hose of information but engaged in a very specific method of inquisitive discussion that many of our finest institutions still rely on as far superior to mere lecture -- Socratic Method at University of Chicago Law School

Further it is true that while the overall "goal" of Common Core does not overtly advocate a particular approach to instruction many of the harshest criticisms especially in regard to standards for mathematics show that by being overly specific in spelling out certain grade specific curricular targets there is a strong bias against traditional instruction and assessment -- the widely circulated question of "show what the student did wrong with trying to use a number line" is clearly in that category. Common Core assignment ?

Funny thing too is that one of the things that I would object to about BOTH that kind of non-traditional assessment AND those who would criticize it is that we lack the CONTEXT of that sheet. Was it part of larger assessment that maybe did have lots of traditional calculations? Did it follow a nice unit of instruction that gave kids an opportunity to learn how to spot mistakes? Was it given as a "last minute" take home assessment without adequate supporting information for kids or parents to refer to away from the classroom? I am not ready to condemn every aim of Common Core...

What we need is a BOE that demands not just "compliance" or "alignment" with minimum standards but true excellence. We are uniquely positioned to do that with new leadership and an expiring teacher's collective bargaining agreement!

Can the BOE take the lead in putting things on a path that will get us to that end? That does not happen with a casual approach to their role. It demands that the BOE hold themselves and staff to standards that are not a "mile wide and an inch deep". We need administrators of real intellectual depth that will not parrot catch phrases from the latest fads but instead look for the kinds of truly excellent practices that will help all our students live up to their fullest potential. We should not have to wait "five to seven years" to see that that, it should be delivered in our classrooms and administrative offices daily.

Anonymous said...

Jay Wick-Great comments as always. Your right-our BOE can't take a casual approach, but it seems this is happening with the majority. Why do some of these administators have so much power? They aren't backing up their philosophies with proven data, and it's going against what has made this district great in the past. The burden of proof should be on THEM. Do we need to continually demand it? Is everyone willing to just give that up? Maybe we need a public service campaign to attend meetings, write letters etc..

Leslie Gray said...

July 1 will be a fresh start for this district. We will have a new crop of administrators. It is a chance to start over. I propose that the posting guidelines change on July 1 as well. As a pledge to our new administrators (as well as any applicants who may be reading this blog) can we agree that only posts with names attached will be posted after July 1? Sometimes I think people say things anonymously that they would never say with a name attached. We shouldn't post anything that we are not comfortable attaching our name to.

Just my opinion. It may help us get a better pool of applicants if we make this pledge now.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to add that the rationale for why people feel the need to post anonymously will be gone on July 1.

jay_wick said...

Re: Spreading the word...

The fact is that as currently constituted the BOE is greater than 85% Caucus backed. I generally believe in the way that the Caucus has sought representation from all parts of the district, uses a unbiased method of choosing representatives to serve on the nomination committees and then interviews all potential candidates.

That said it is arguable whether the "cicada-like" emergence and disappearance of the Caucus really is best suited to the sort of world that we live in with increasingly polarized views fostered by one selecting only sources of information that reinforce their preexisting views... There is almost certainly a need for something more permanent that is neither a "tax watch dog" nor a "cheerleader" for the district but a honest forum for those that do want to see the district improve / recover well before the next round of elections.

I know it can be tough to be too forward with ones' neighbors about the short comings of the BOE, lest one be dismissed as a "chicken little" type, but as virtually no parent or community member has offered anything really positive about the general direction of the district in many interactions it is hard to understand why some BOE members believe there is anything other than broad dissatisfaction.

The challenge is that without more folks willing to really put themselves on record as opposed to the poor decisions and horrible execution of current district initiatives there is little chance of things really improving.

Apathy is the enemy...

"We may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all -- the apathy of human beings."
-Helen Keller

“We shall have to repent in this generation not so much for the evil deeds of the wicked people but for the appalling silence of the good people.”
― Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The alternative is to stand idly by and allow things that were good to become less so, to preside over the dumbing down of your own children for the sake of who knows what, to shrug ones shoulders in the face of "experts" that clearly are nothing of the sort...

The US in not alone in having wise people raise valid objections to "standarization" that is really a bad mish mash of the worst ideas from well meaning but misguided people. The same concerns about weak "national curriculum" have surfaced in Australia and the United Kingdom.

Fortunately the US still has relatively "toothless" Federal education agencies and Illinois' inept layers of ISBE and Regional Superintendent are more about fattening up the rolls of patronage armies than really "imposing" anything objectionable upon local schools, but our BOE must demand that our administrators do not merely chew on the pap they pick-up at feel-good conferences and then spray that into silly "slide sets".
Our BOE needs to have a clear understanding that the natural direction of any system that is not encouraged to move upward will succumb to decline and only by demanding high levels of performance can such a tendency be staved off.

Only entropy comes easy.
-Anton Chekhov

Jill Quinones said...

Jay_Wick, I love your reference to Socrates, because really whether you call it constructivist, guide on the side, discovery learning, whatever, when that type of instruction is appropriate, the teacher still has a job to do as a guide on the side - and I actually think it is a more difficult one. The teacher needs to be asking carefully thought-out questions, monitoring what the students are doing, guiding them back if they become off task, facilitating, providing context, resources, stimulating student thinking. It takes A LOT of training and practice to become effective at this.

Giving students worksheets to fill out after they have read a story together or done a Google search is not "guide on the side" teaching.

Ms. Benaitis should probably do a little more research into this before making statements like the one she was quoted making. Something that has been around as long as Socrates should not be referenced as "where a teacher's role is headed!" Good teachers have known for a loooong time when to use what methodology. Good teachers have known for a looong time that more than one methodology is usually needed to educate children.

These "sound bits" being put out there by some of our Administrators do nothing to improve public confidence in what is happening in this District.

jay_wick said...


Anybody that has ever tried to get kids (or adults) to really be guided out of the "cave" of their own lack of understanding toward a more accurate view of reality knows how difficult a task this can be.
Allegory of the Cave

Maybe we can print up some handy reference guides to help folks step through the evolution of Western thought Making Everything Easier For All

It is one thing to have an occasional moment or two of class time spent on things that look more like 'homework' but if this "guide on the side" becomes shorthand for "doing busy work under watchful gaze" I cannot emphasize how much will have been lost...

Anonymous said...

Wick - we need to keep discussing it on the blog, during public comments and in letters to the BOE. This and ELA are just as big a problem as the math issues.

The Parents said...

To the Anonymous poster who commented on 2 named administrators. We will publish your comment if you modify it to state that you are expressing your "opinion." Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Parents.

In my opinion, Dawn Benaitis is incompetent. I'm not surprised that she is making ridiculous statements to the press. I listened to her making stupid assertions during meetings at Monroe.

I am appalled that the BOE renewed her employment contract especially after the Board received numerous letters in opposition to her continued employment. I believe that the BOE is being irresponsible with taxpayer dollars.

In my opinion, Dr. Kurt Schneider should also have been let go. I believe he has done nothing positive for this district and personally milking this district for his six-figure salary.

Anonymous said...

Wick- I love your new blogger picture!!! Good slogan we should all adopt.

jay_wick said...

I don't doubt that no one likes to hear accusations that some members of the district staff are ineffective -- not only do we want to believe hiring processes ought to prevent this but even the most hardened cynic wants to believe that when it comes to folks who primarily work with children there is something of a "higher calling" in what they do.

Unfortunately there is little evidence that the areas in which the benefits of L4A should be most apparent remain other than most troubling. While it is certainly true that students with extraordinary needs are not overtly discriminated against in the district neither is there evidence that students with such needs are truly making academic progress.

I know that Federal Law has requirements for this:
Congress requires that IEPs include a statement describing
how the child’s disability affects her involvement and progress in the general curriculum and a statement of annual goals, including benchmarks or short-term objectives that are related to enabling the student to be involved and progress in the
general curriculum. [20 U.S.C. Sec.1414(d)(1)(A)(i); 34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.320(a)(1) & (2).]

That quote is from a readable guide to disability related legislation; sites like WrightsLaw link to the full Federal Statues Disability Rights
34 C.F.R. Part 300|

Troubling incidents ought to raise concerns about the degree to which the L4A program forces students into situations that actually result in less opportunities to be educated with their peers.

If our class sizes are too large and the demands on regular classroom teachers are too great and the skill level of aides is not appropriate to foster the learning and development of children with special needs the district is doing a disservice to these most vulnerable students.

Is L4A just a slogan that one can use to further their career? Is there evidence that such a model is the best way to help the greatest number of students reach their fullest potential? Is it the wisest use of district resources?

These are troubling questions made all the more pressing by the ever louder ticking of the clocks marking the end of yet another school year. Can the BOE step up and answer these questions? Will they respond to the challenges that they have so far been so hands-off in ignoring?

The Parents said...

To Anonymous who asked us not to publish his/her comment earlier today: We had no other avenue to contact you but to post a response without identifying in any way the content of your comment. We too are very concerned about what you have raised, or the possibility that false rumors are being spread. We urge you to report your concerns to the only entity that can investigate and address them -- the seven members of the board of education.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Shnieder and Ms. Benitis need to be reassigned to duties more in line with their background and experience for the remainder of their contracts. According to the district website, Dr. Shnieder has no substantial experience with regular, or even gifted classrooms in elementary schools. So why was he allowed to revamp the regular and gifted programs without even following the instructions of Dr. Moon, the gifted specialist? He also has no prior experience in working in curriculum matters in a district with a population such as ours. He was a former professor who likes speaking and coming up with theories and experiments. Benitis, the assistant superintendent of curriculum has no specialized credential in elementary school reading or math. Only one in middle school reading. Yet somehow, she has been allowed to, in my opinion, wreck havoc in our district without taking any responsibility for it. (Cred. information is visible to all on the ISBE credential website.) The poor decision of the BOE to renew these people's contracts, and to continue to squander taxpayer money has only created MORE frustration and discontent among the community. Furthermore, Dr. Schuster should be forced to leave our district immediately so that she can stop exacting revenge upon the remaining staff and parents. We need a new superintendent with a basic sense of accountability, ethical responsibility, and a solid knowledge of successful teaching methods and curriculums. Not a degree in speech pathology. The new superintendent needs to come in, clean house, and direct the board to focus on the most important things in D181 - our children and their educations.

The BOE, encouraged by the (in my opinion) vindictive and morally challenged, Dr. Schuster, have put our children on a fast train to failure. It appears like our current superintendent, (who controls our BOE president like a marionette) directed Turek and his cronies to renew the contracts of the remaining administrators. She, along with the BOE, now, bear the growing burden of parental frustration. THEY all failed in their duties to us. Dr. Schuster played these yes men and women for fools, and they were all too happy to follow along. Someone, please relieve her of her duties before she completely destroys this district.

Furthermore, for Rusell and Ecarius to NOT repay their $40,000 Phd's, a contractual obligation, is not a CHOICE for the BOE! If the BOE or some private donors want to pitch in themselves with their own savings to help pay for those degrees, by all means, do so! However, if the BOE does not cover the cost with personally donated funds, and the administrators are NOT held to their written agreements, it is robbery and THEFT from a governmental institution, taxpayers, and children! I personally will see to it that the FBI and district attorney become involved. From what I understand, generally, school districts do not like to employ felons, so I cannot believe that these administrators would be willing to take that risk.

If our current superintendent cannot even admit that she has no idea what each school is doing, or truthfully explain that the L4A plan was a massive mistake (NOT a side effect of the new CC), she is continuing to fail in her duties and needs to leave immediately, not June 30th. I like the spirit in which a previous poster suggested we all write our names on our posts, however, please understand that we never wanted a blog. We just wanted D181 to listen to us 2 years ago and to take our concerns seriously. When that never happened, parents decided to take more drastic actions to protect our children's educations and our community's public schools. It was my hope that last Monday, the BOE and administration would have quickly put an end to the need for a parental blog. Unfortunately, the BOE failed. Let's hope that these administrators voluntarily resign soon, so that this blog will no long need to exist.

Anonymous said...

Ok... The FBI? Now I'm laughing. Have you ever even considered that their new districts may have bought out their Phd's?? These kinds of buyouts happen regularly in business! I'm sure the FBI has plenty of other things to worry about in our nation, But thanks for the laugh anyway!

Leslie Gray said...

I understand where the previous poster is coming from on the whole name thing.

On a different topic, I'm wondering if anyone had a child who took the PARCC field test, and if so, what was his/her reaction to the test?

Anonymous said...

If it is true that the new district is paying back the tuition, then the public reserves to be told that - because it is the public's money not the BOE's. The BOE seems to feel that they are all powerful and do not need to answer to anyone. That is not true. The taxpayers are the owners of the community and they answer to us. Also, the administration was not truthful with Ms. Mayer's FOIA - they claimed Dr. Russell only had to pay back 50% of the tuition not the 100% his most recent contract demanded. So, if the new district is reimbursing, how much - 50% or 100%? This administration and BOE needs to start telling the truth and stop acting like they are god like figures with unlimited power. They also need to show the community more respect.

Anonymous said...

The following was copied directly from the website. Still laughing??:

(part 1)
Former Broward County School Board Member Indicted on Public Corruption Charges

U.S. Attorney’s Office
December 17, 2009
Southern District of Florida
(313) 226-9100
Jeffrey H. Sloman, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced the filing of an Indictment charging Beverly Gallagher, 51, of Pembroke Pines, Florida, with committing extortion under color of official right, bribery in programs receiving federal funds, and wire fraud by depriving the citizens of honest services, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1951, 666, 1341, and 1346, respectively. Gallagher was arrested on September 23, 2009 on a criminal complaint in connection with these charges. She was released on a $100,000 personal surety bond.

As set forth in the Indictment, the charges are a result of an FBI undercover investigation. The undercover FBI agents posed as asset managers who claimed to represent contractors seeking to obtain contracts with local government entities, including the Broward County School District. Specifically, the undercover agents claimed to be acting on behalf of a client who owned a glass company and a project manager for a large construction company. Both companies were purportedly seeking to obtain contracts from the Broward County School District.

According to the allegations in the Indictment, from approximately November 2007 through June 2009, Beverly Gallagher used her official position, in exchange for the unlawful receipt of property, including money and other things of value. Specifically, Gallagher allegedly agreed to act as an undisclosed “consultant” and to use her influence working “behind the scenes” to obtain contracts or other favorable actions from the Broward Country School District for contractors associated with the undercover FBI agents. Gallagher allegedly insisted that she be paid in cash and for her personal benefit, instead of to her political campaign. In total, Gallagher allegedly accepted $12,500 in cash and other property, including boat trips and the payment of restaurant bills. In exchange for the cash and other remuneration, Gallagher is alleged to have used her official position to benefit contractors who were attempting to become pre-qualified before the Broward County School Board and obtain various projects and subcontract work on projects from the Broward County School Board.

Acting U.S. Attorney Jeffrey H. Sloman said, “Elected officials are held to a high standard of conduct because of the special position of trust given them by the public. We, as citizens, have a right to hold them to this standard, and to demand that they be held accountable. In this case, Gallagher’s actions fell far short of this standard. She used her office for purely personal gain, and must now face the consequences of her actions. Good governance requires no less.”

(continued onto next post)

Anonymous said...

(part 2)

FBI Special Agent in Charge John V. Gillies stated, “Beverly Gallagher betrayed the trust placed in her by the citizens of Broward County by using her position as a school board member for her own personal benefit. As the top criminal priority of the FBI, we will continue to work with our partners and devote all necessary resources to address public corruption where we find it.”

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation Division, in connection with the investigation of this matter. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey N. Kaplan and Neil Karadbil.

An Indictment is only an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida at Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida or

Anonymous said...

Here is some more info from that same national website with specific information from different parts of the country:

U.S. Attorney Continues Focus on Education Funds Fraud
U.S. Attorney’s Office
September 16, 2013

Western District of Pennsylvania
(412) 644-3500
PITTSBURGH—Following the beginning of a new school year, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton today focused public attention on the office’s School Corruption Hotline, 412-894-7515. The hotline number rings directly in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where callers may leave their name, contact information, and details regarding suspected misuse of tax dollars supporting education.

“The advent of a new school year provides the opportunity to remind citizens that they are a vital resource in helping us identify fraud and illegal activity within the school system,” said U.S. Attorney Hickton. “We need the public to continue to provide information regarding suspected abuses, including misuse of district education funds, theft, spending irregularities, corruption in the contract and bidding process, and bribery, kickbacks, or other forms of collusion with outside vendors.”

U.S. Attorney Hickton encouraged callers to be as specific as possible when leaving information so that the appropriate investigating agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, IRS-Criminal Investigation, Department of Education-Office or Inspector General, or others, is able to pursue leads.

U.S. Attorney Hickton activated the first-of-its-kind hotline in November 2011. Dozens of callers have provided information resulting in several open and ongoing investigations.

The Western District of Pennsylvania encompasses 25 counties in the westernmost part of the Commonwealth: Allegheny. Armstrong, Beaver, Butle, Clarion, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Jefferson, Lawrence, Mercer, Washington, and Westmoreland in the Greater Pittsburgh area; Crawford, Elk, Erie, Forest, McKean, Venango, and Warren in the Erie area; and Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Clearfield, and Somerset in the Johnstown area.

Miami Community Outreach

Miami, like each of the FBI’s local field offices, has a community outreach program that complements and strengthens our many efforts to protect you, your businesses, and your families in concrete ways through a range of activities and initiatives.

Our recent activities include:

We presented our 2012 Director’s Community Leadership Award to the Asian American Advisory Board
Among our other ongoing efforts:

Meeting with minority groups and civic organizations to talk about what the FBI can do with them and for them and hosting town hall meetings as needed to dialogue on key issues;
Sending our special agents and others from the FBI into schools, businesses, and civic meetings to expalain emerging crime and security threats and to provide specific advice on how to prevent being victimized by these threats;
Supporting the graduates of our Citizens’ Academies, who often band together in local alumni chapters to create crime prevention programs and other initiatives that benefit communities.
Serving on committees and boards for businesses, schools, community groups, and social and health services and launching drives to bring food, gifts, and toys to the less fortunate during the holidays and other times of the year; and
Encouraging citizens to step forward to report crime and serve as witnesses in court.
The Miami Community Outreach Program is interested in impacting our local communities. We feel that this can be accomplished through such initiatives as the Junior Special Agent Program, career days, office tours, and assisting local community coalitions in their duties. Give us the opportunity to work with you, and together we can make a difference.

For More Information:

Contact the Miami Division’s Community Outreach Specialist, Jeff Green, at (305) 944-9101, Ext. 7344.

Anonymous said...

Here is a page from Chicago's Local FBI website:

4. Combat public corruption at all levels

Corruption in government threatens our country’s democracy and national security, impacting everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, wasting billions of tax dollars every year.

Our investigations in Chicago focus on violations of federal law by public officials in local, state, and federal government, such as bribery, contract and procurement fraud, antitrust, environmental crimes, election fraud, and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

For more information on the FBI’s national efforts, see our Public Corruption webpage.

Anonymous said...

What is really funny is that you think a public school should be run the same way as a private business. D181 is not a private business! And if their new districts were dumb enough to buy out their PhDs, why has it not been announced that those districts are comping us yet?

Contrary to your belief, the FBI takes government corruption very seriously.

Yvonne Mayer said...

I'd like to weigh in on the tuition reimbursement issue again. I FOIA'd the contracts that show that 100% is owed back. I emailed the board after reviewing the contracts (and copied local reporters) urging the board to collect the 100%. One of the reporters contacted me and told me that he had made inquiries and been told by the administration that only 50% is due. Despite clear language in the most recent contract that requires 100% repayment, the administration is claiming that that language does not apply and that only an original tuition reimbursement contract that required only 50% payback is in force. Any lawyer reviewing both contracts will tell you that this is not true. The current contract is legally binding, it was signed by the affected administrators and board president and should be enforced as written by the full board. If they choose to amend the contract so that 100% is not owed, they have the right to do that, but must take such formal action in a public meeting where the D181 taxpayers can demand an explanation on why our tax $ are not being returned to the D181 coffers!

Yvonne Mayer said...

And, by the way, any suggestion that the new districts paid the administrators $ to refund to D181 for the tuition payments can be easily checked by filing a FOIA request with the new districts. If the new districts did agree to assume the administrators' debt to D181, why wouldn't the D181 board simply make an announcement to the taxpayers that the money has been paid back by the new districts? I would bet it's because it hasn't been.

Yvonne Mayer said...

Just to clarify -- D181 admin is claiming that a provision in the current contracts requires only collection of 50% (as previously required in the original tuition reimbursement contracts) DESPITE the new contract requiring 100% payback. In my legal opinion, and that of several other attorney who have looked at the language of the original and current contracts, the administration is wrong, is ignoring an integration clause and misreading the language in the new contract. The D181 Board should consult with an employment lawyer to interpret the clear and unequivocal language in the contracts. To fail or refuse to do this is -- in my opinion -- a complete abrogation of their responsibilities to the taxpayers that fund the schools and elected them to oversee the finances of the district.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the district have to post the contracts of the administrators, teachers and support staff on its website or something? This is a PUBLIC school district and such information should be PUBLIC. Why would anyone have to make FOIA requests for this information?

Anonymous said...

We shouldn't have to FIOA most of the things that are FOIA'd

Anonymous said...

Of course we have no idea if the other districts are covering the costs of the education. It just occurred to me as a possibility since we haven't heard otherwise. I suppose time will tell. Any thoughts as to best use of the money once it's reimbursed?

Anonymous said...

Isn't Board Member Vorobiev an employment lawyer - she should be able to interpret basic contract language and integration clauses.

What should we do with the money? $50,000-$70,000 can buy a lot of quality teacher training in curriculum issues for one thing. It may seem like a drop in the bucket budget wise, but in a budget supported by tax dollars, every dollar counts.

I, for one, would gladly give a $50,000-$70,000 bonus of sorts for some quality short term results from a new Super and/or Curriculum person to who can come in and clean up our current curriculum mess, but have no confidence that the current BOE would be able to structure such a bonus appropriately.

I know - how about a quality satisfaction survey of all stakeholders from a 3rd party as suggested by the Superintendent search firm.