Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30: Out With the Old; July 1: New and Improved Going Forward

We parents would like to remind our readers of two important dates, one being today -- June 30, wherein several of D181 administrative contracts expire and we will permanently part with these administrators. This date is significant because it allows greater freedom for Superintendent White to now hire experienced and competent administrators to possibly fill these positions. New contracts typically begin on July 1.

Here is a updated rundown of the administrative positions to possibly be filled:

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources: Dr. White has already announced a replacement for Doug Eccarius, who will be greatly missed. We appreciate his hard work and dedication to D181 throughout the years, and we wish him the best of luck in his new district.  Perhaps one day down the road, he will return to us as an experienced Superintendent.

Director of Special Education: Now that Christine Igoe is moving on, there should be BOE discussion as to whether Ms Igoe’s position is really necessary.  She basically ran Special Education services, and as multiple parents have commented on this blog, she was challenging to deal with regarding Special Education and as a foot solider while promoting Learning for All mantras. Kurt Schneider was originally hired to run the Special Education Department before he morphed himself into a Learning-For-All-Curriculum-And-Instructional Expert. He alone can oversee Special Education services and we should use Ms Igoe’s salary to directly enhance the instruction of our children.

Assistant Superintendent of Learning: It’s no secret Kevin Russell has had aspirations of moving up the organizational chart since his first days with the district. He was a good principal of Walker, one of the smallest schools in D181. We would like to extend our best wishes to him as he departs. And Mr. er, (taxpayer-funded Dr.) Russell, as one of the architects and promoters of Learning for All, consider yourself fortunate that you now will have a fresh crop of subjects in your new district for your experiment. Those of us who sat across from you in RtI meetings where you seemed to be listening and taking notes feverishly, never saw the instructional plan our children were promised. Best of luck to you as superintendent.

We look forward to July 1 and beyond with the hope that Dr. White will seek the best candidates for the central office, and we are optimistic our district will improve and move ahead in a positive direction with a solid administrative team.

Our children deserve no less.


Anonymous said...

OMG!!! Dr. White just sent out an email. Am I correct that Schneider just got Russel's job?????

Anonymous said...

4:18 - seems that way.

Not to squash the positive which is the letter providing detailed, current information, but I am a bit confused as to when these changes were approved by the BOE. Seems to me changes to Administrative structure and approval of staff to fill them must be done at an Open BOE meeting and then announced as a done deal when approved. Had he said, "this is what I will be proposing to the Board at its next meeting..." then I wouldn't be so concerned about yet another failure to understand what an Open Meeting is. I would still be concerned, however, about some of his choices.....

Jill Quinones said...

Part 1 - I think at some point in the past Dr. Schneider and Dr. Russell actually started sharing Dr. Russell's job - now it will just be him with 2 Assistants (Benaitis and Walsh). An earlier post on this Blog Notes:

"When Kurt Schneider was originally hired to start work on July 1, 2012, his title was Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services and his sole purpose was managing the Special Education or Pupil Services Department. This purpose has changed significantly in the year since he joined D181. After only six months, in January 2013, Schneider's title was changed to Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) (at least on the following report: Click to open 1/28/13 Board Report), although we cannot find anything on Board Docs where the Board of Education approved this title change by that date. In April 2013, the title of Schneider's Job Description was changed to Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) and yet less than 4 months later, the title changed a third time to Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Student Services) (Click to open 8/12/13 Succession Plan.) "

What is troubling about Dr. White's new structure is that what is commonly known as the head of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction (CAI) has been combined with what is commonly known as the head of Special Education. Perhaps it would be less troubling if educational training and expertise in both of these two disciplines were common in the same individual, but in my experience, they are not. Dr. Schneider clearly has the special education expertise but minimal CAI education and job experience. I have found that to be the case with most Special Education Directors I have known. Conversely, an individual who specializes in CAI usually does not concurrently have a specialization in special education.

Not that it wouldn't be nice to find CAI and Special Ed together as really a Special Ed student is first a general education student and second a special education one, but the fact of the matter is the field of education, starting with college training programs, has not yet adopted that approach (again - D181 the Trail Blazer and our kids the lab rats?). Also, from an Administrative standpoint, what is really Special about Special Education is the plethora of legal obligations at both the State and Federal level that must be mastered to assure compliance and quality instruction to students. It is a very tall order to ask one individual to be responsible for all of that as well as everything that goes along with quality CAI. Although Dr. Schneider has National CAI recognition on his To Do list, I cannot imagine too many other Administrators who would want to be hired for a combined Special Ed/CAI job when he moves on.

Jill Quinones said...

Part 2

Smaller School Districts like Butler in Oak Brook can often combine different Administrative roles under one person, but larger Districts like Maercker 60, Downers Grove 58, Highland Park 112, Wilmette 39 typically do not. No matter what they call it (Special Education, Pupil Personnel Services, Student Services), it is a separate Department from CAI (Student Learning, Teaching and Learning - whatever the District chooses to call that area) and they are headed by separate individuals.

Although Dr. Schneider will have 2 helpers for CAI, neither one of them has a whole lot of training or experience in those areas. Special Education will be handled by the 5? PPS Administrators - only 2 of whom have Special Ed Administrative certification from what I can tell (known as Director of Special Ed), although they all seem to have the Gen Ed Administrative certification. Nonetheless, their recent background was teaching (one was actually an Occupational Therapist, not a special ed teacher); most have no prior experience in leading Special Education and/or fluency with the nuances of special education law - again getting on the job training as they go from Dr. Schneider presumably, but not what on would expect in a District like ours.

I do not have a special education child in this District, but I have heard a lot of rumblings in the recent past from those who do about how things are not going well with building PPS Administrators running the show. If Dr. White expects this model to work it should include one Director well versed in CAI and one well versed in Special Education assisting Dr. Schneider. That does not appear to be the case.