Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dr. Schneider Leaving D181 for a Position in a North Shore Special Education Cooperative

Moments ago, the D181 Director of Communications notified all parents by email that Kurt Schneider is leaving D181 effective July 1, 2016.  Below is a copy of her email and the more detailed link content referenced in it.  We will make no comment at this time, other than to say, "Sayonara"* Dr. Schneider.

Email from Ms. McGuiggan:

Dear District 181 Families,
This message is first to share information from the Department of Learning regarding an important update on the schedule for PARCC testing. (A letter to parents is copied below.)
Also, we want to notify you that Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) Dr. Kurt Schneider has accepted a position as Superintendent of the Northern Suburban Special Education District (NSSED), effective July 1, 2016. NSSED is a special education cooperative that provides programs, services, coaching, and consultation to 18 member districts. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Schneider on his new position. Click here to read the full story in our website news.
Have a nice day!
Bridget McGuiggan
Director of Communications

Press Release:

Assistant Superintendent of Learning Dr. Kurt Schneider Accepts Position with NSSED

Thursday, January 21, 2016
District 181 Assistant Superintendent of Learning (Pupil Services) Dr. Kurt Schneider has accepted a position as Superintendent of the Northern Suburban Special Education District (NSSED), effective July 1, 2016. NSSED is a special education cooperative that provides programs, services, coaching, and consultation to 18 member districts in areas such as Winnetka, Lake Forest, and Deerfield. Schneider has served as an Assistant Superintendent of Learning in District 181 for four years. 
"I have truly enjoyed working with my District 181 colleagues," Schneider notes. "I am proud of the work we have done and what we have accomplished together on behalf of all students." Schneider remarks that he is committed to continuing his work with District 181 staff, students, and families over the coming months and that he will be working closely with the administrative team to create a smooth transition for incoming Department of Learning leadership. 
District 181 Superintendent Dr. Don White congratulated Dr. Schneider in his new position and thanked him for his service to the District. “Dr. Schneider is an outstanding person who has worked to always put the needs of students first. We are proud to see him take this next step in his career.” 
In regard to the vacancy, Dr. White notes that he will continue to evaluate the District's current organizational structure and plans to discuss the topic with the Board of Education at a future meeting. (Source:
Japanese for 'goodbye'; however, it carries more finality. Instead of being used at the end of a day, as in "Goodbye see you tomorrow," it would be used in situations where you will either not see the person for a long time, if ever again.   (Source:


Anonymous said...

While thrilled, and thanks Bloggers for reporting this, I would urge the readers of this blog to lay low. Just let him leave and save the commentaries until July 1.

The Parents said...

While our readers may be eager to comment, for once we agree with the suggestion that it is in everyone's best interest to lay low until after he leaves.

Anonymous said...

I think his new position is one that Dr. Schmeider will truly excel at. Congratulations to him, and best wishes on an outstanding opportunity.

The Parents said...

Today we have received a series of comments regarding this topic that we have decided not to post. We have decided that incendiary comments may have a negative impact on the news contained in this post, and therefore, we will not be posting such comments. Thank you for your understanding.

jay_wick said...

I too believe Dr. S is better suited for a position that he truly has passion for. I am sure this will be a wonderful opportunity for him to excel -- NSSED's mission is to help students become successful, happy adults in home, work and community.

Too many folks harshly ascribed some of the district's challenges to Dr. S, but in my view more of the issues really had just piled up because prior BOEs and earlier superintendents were unwilling to fully address things in a timely manner. There remain a mountain of vicissitudes that will have to be overcome, and now Dr. White will have to find the right Asst. Superintendent(s) to move in a direction that will be responsive to the majority of the current BOE...

Anonymous said...

I am pleased that Dr. Schneider will be in a position where he will be appreciated rather than vilified. BTW bloggers before you start crowing too loudly, consider this... given the viciousness of the attacks, I doubt D181 is high on the list for prospective administrators.

The Parents said...

5:29 -- You speak of vicious attacks. You're certainly entitled to your characterization, but most parents in this community have used this blog to present fact based commentaries and consider this the only forum that has existed in D181 for the last two years that has allowed for transparency and open discourse. Any prospective administrator reading this blog will recognize that the problems that have been created were created by administrators, most (only one left) who have or are about to leave the district. If Dr. White is smart and looks for the highly qualifified, experienced administrators to fill the openings, and then allows them to bring sanity back to a curriculum that had has been completely turned upside down -- where the floor has become the ceiling -- perhaps D181 can finally turn a corner and return to the excellent district it once was. Any challenges this district faces in attracting prospective candidates cannot be blamed on parents and anyone who attempts to do so is ignorant of the horrific situation caused by past and outgoing administrators. Dr. White has a chance now to fix this mess. All eyes are on him. The parents and community and tax payers are watching and waiting and hoping.

Anonymous said...

Amen parents! Parents teachers and administrators coexisted happily for many years and the education was stellar. Then the prior board and mostly defunct administrators turned the curriculum upside down over night with no plan at all on what to replace it and no research to support their so called plans. So yes parents are mad. The curriculum all these years later is a disaster. Test scores are diving. All the while our taxes are going up. So this cannot be blamed on the parents. Parents are the only ones advocating for the best interests of children and if that offends certain people I am sorry. Parents will welcome with open arms honest hardworking qualified candidates and that is the truth. Perhaps if the central office was more inviting and pleasant to new hires that don't support keeping everyone at the same pace that would help attract qualified candidates.

Anonymous said...

5:29 and Parents: you both have valid points. It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Parents, you're correct that the administration has many problems and this blog is one of the few, if only, places people can vent. This is the "What". 5:29 is correct at the "How". Take a look at what you called this blog post. ""Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye Kurt Sch[n]eider!" I'm sorry, but that kind of attitude can scare me away from a job. A more respectful title might be along the lines of "Dr. Schneider leaving District 181 for a Superintendent Position in a Different Position." If I wanted to apply for the position, I might see that there are issues to deal with. Fine, okay, whatever. I might be able to take being called out on my problems, if it's done in a respectful way. But the way some concerns are put on this blog, even if they're totally valid concerns, might make me think you'd come after me with pitchforks and torches. Why would people want to work in a district where people spew such vitriol? To be fair, I've been in this district for long enough where I can definitely understand where this hostility and bluntness can come from. However, remember that not everyone knows what goes on in the district as well as we do.

Anonymous said...

5:29, if you think parents are more concerned about potential job prospects than the educations of our own children, you are delusional. Most likely, you are another administrator. At this point, after our experiences with all administrators in 181 over the last 5 years, I would prefer the district leave the position empty. In fact, use this as an opportunity to clean house. Only a vicious person would place the needs of administrators over the needs of children and teachers. Since D181 has had no successful leadership for the last five years, why in the world should our community continually be forced to pay for it? I'd rather the salaries of administrators be transferred to teachers to provide more after school help to our children. How else else will the district ever remediate the visicious after effects of so many poor educational and curricular decisions over the last 3 years?

Anonymous said...

An individual with firsthand knowledge shared with me that a lawsuit has been filed by a group of D181 parents alleging their children were bullied by D181 staff. Do The Parents have any knowledge of this lawsuit?

Anonymous said...

The % growth of staff has increased at a far greater rate than the growth of students and teachers. In the past 15 years, we have added layers and positions of overhead staff.

As the mess in Springfield drags on, as our facilities age, we need to vigorously think about how much staff we need and what they directly contribute to the educations of our children. It appears to me that each new position tries to justify their existence by foisting fads and unproven methods on our children. Far from improving education, the exact opposite is happening.

Time for the BOE to take a time out, rethink the employment of Mr. White, and rethink staffing. HMS needs to wait until the rest gets fixed.

Anonymous said...

8:46: I am not 5:29 (nor an administrator), but I think parents should have some concern about potential job prospects. Yes, the actual education is more important, but it's not just administrators either. It's the teachers, and they're not immortal, unfortunately. While having good teachers & administrators who do good jobs, work hard and openly listen to criticisms might make this blog obsolete, the district won't get there with the replacement of a single person, nor overnight. Communication and making this a great district is a two way street. So in order to get that great education, we need good people in those positions who respectfully and constructively work with us, and we need to work respectfully and constructively with them. Having a blog post called "Na Na Na Na, Na Na Na Na, Hey Hey Hey, Goodbye Kurt Schneider!" is neither. I realize we tried talking to the teachers, administrators, and board directly, and that doesn't necessarily work all the time. Yet we need to keep taking the high road or we'll reap what we sow.

The Parents said...

8:34: We have considered your suggestion to change the title and agree to change it. We are reasonable people. However, you have to understand that the change of title will not change the emotions people are feeling.

Anonymous said...

9:46, I agree, the district really needs to look at what staffing we really need. Why do we need an Assistant Superintendent of Learning and a Director of Learning? Also, how many levels of Business & Operations do we need? I wonder how many positions can the district consolidate? I don't mind having it if we need it? I've seen how terrible having a single teacher try teach a group of students with a broad range of abilities is, but let's not go overboard, either. We need a nice, Goldilocks-ey amount. Not too much, not too little, but just right.

Anonymous said...

Parents: this is 8:34. Thanks. The name of a blog post may not be much, but every little thing helps. Enjoy your weekend.

Anonymous said...

9:51- Indeed, communication is a 2 way street. This blog exists because parents have repeatedly communicated with administration and the ROE for YEARS, but they ignored us. Instead of addressing the problems presented to them, administrators dismissed us and our children.

Just because the administration has pretended for years that parents have never come forth with valid issues and complaints does not mean they will prevent the problems for existing. Nothing will ever prevent parents from complaining forum after forum, and to others until communication, compromise, and ACTION occurs.

Yes, communication is a 2 way street, but only the administration has the POWER to enact the changes and suggestion that parents and teachers suggest. By ignoring and bullying parents, the administration has truly reaped what it has sown.

Please provide the name of the attorney handling the Bully Complaint from D181 parents. I would like to join.

Anonymous said...

!!;16 Yes, we have to look at staffing, starting with Mr White. By giving out the personal information of parents and students in school directories to the pro-referendum group, he has demonstrated he is not fit for his job. Is this who want running the district?

Anonymous said...

Communication and respect are a two way street. Parents who bring valid complaints to the administration and BOE are treated as pariahs and as if they are the problem.

Doc White, Turek and Clarin are the worst offenders.

We may be stuck with Turek and Clarin but the remainder of the BOE could do something about Doc White and his lack of respect for parents and students.

By releasing the directory information, Doc White showed a lack of discretion. By refusing to provide a stimulating environment for our advanced learners, he showed a lack of understanding of our children's needs. By acting like our special education students are an afterthought and a drain on resources, he subjected D181 to liability and wasted years when these children could have been learning.

What does it take to get rid of this guy?

Anonymous said...

11:27: you're very right, only the administration is the only ones who have the power to enact changes. While parents and fellow community members can elect board members, that's only every other year, and board members serve 4 (correct me if I'm wrong) years. Does anyone know if we have the right to recall board members? If so, what is the process?

I have a friend who works at College of DuPage. I guess their board is even worse. One board member recently resigned, and the remaining board members are evenly divided into opposing groups. If one group of 3 board members calls a meeting, the other 3 don't attend. Since they need 4 members present for a quorum, and only 3 attend, no board business has taken place for the last few months. This has led my friend to create a petition on that would tell the board members to do their jobs or resign. After a certain date, he'll e-mail the petition to the board. Hopefully, it does something. Perhaps we can try the same thing?

Anonymous said...

The previous comment is spot on.

I am disgusted at White's rambling word salad explanation as to why he turned over the directory information in his letter to parents. He made the decision to turn over the names because he desperately wants the referendum to pass. I wish he cared as much about the quality of education our kids are receiving.
It's time for him to go.

Anonymous, as Modified by The Parents said...

We have received the following anonymous comment which we have modified slightly to conform with our policy. If the author prefers it be removed (due to the changes), please let us know and we will do so.

Anonymous said:

Dear 8:46,

Your lamentation over a lack of respectful tone on this blog is laughable. The powerpoint this guy presented was modified, in my opinion, to advance his own career goals. And when public documents disclosed this and the apparent lack of research to support the modifications, nothing happened. Read that again. Nothing happened! In the private sector, he'd be fired in a hot minute. In education, he fails upward to greener pastures. Good riddance.

Over the past five years, it is the administration who has exhibited a total lack of respect for reasonable parents who voiced sound concerns about curriculum changes that made no sense, and as it turns out, were backed up by zero research. When the parents asked for the research which supported these decisions, they were stonewalled. Then, the administrators reversed engineered a plan document years AFTER the "Learning for All" plan was put into practice. Doesn't that sound backward? Even then, the plan document was completely different from what the BOE approved.

So excuse the Parents for gloating a bit in their headline. The administrators do not deserve an ounce of respect. They deserve scorn. Moreover, if more parents spoke up, scornfully or not, our district would be in a much better place today.

As for your concern over prospective employees being afraid to work in D181, it's totally invalid. The type of person who simply can't (or won't) explain the bases of their own conclusions or decisions shouldn't work here. The type of person who can stand up, explain their rationale, support it with data, and address parental concerns in a direct and plainspoken way will have no problem in this district. That person will have earned respect.

jay_wick said...

Those of us who have read all the information that was diligently provided through exhaustive FOIA requests and traced the 'evolution' of the curricular changes that were enacted, understand that when people work harder to provide cover for their preferred action than to actually move in the direction that clearly was desired by the BOE majority there will be negative consequences; we rightly look forward to regime change to undo some of those negatives.

It is necessary to fill in some of the relevant history. The impetus for modification to prior policies that served as "gate keeper" functions to the former accelerated offerings of the district was a desire by community members to expand access. The perverse response of the outside consultants was badly misappropriated by prior administrators; one would be hard pressed to say that the way prior offerings were dismantled did not reek of vengeful malfeasance. When the mostly "re-appropriated" plan was adhered to by central office staff after the departure of the prior administrator, the motivation might have been lack of passion for doing the hard work needed to actually craft a rational proposal or it may have been a case of a poor match between the skills need to accomplish the task and the personnel in the roles. Dr. White has made not so subtle hints as to which is truer...

While on some level this back story is now water under the bridge, the fact remains there are lots of kids in the district that very likely would be doing much better if they were being appropriately challenged. The harebrained idea that the whole district could be uniformly marched through mathematics that was not suited to their abilities STILL has consequences for kids that are at ALL points along the Gaussian distribution -- those that should be performing in the upper quintiles face a disorganized future as the pipeline of teachers that formerly expected their ranks in middle school has been treated like pariahs -- it is now verboten to mention acceleration that formerly was applauded. The kids in the lower performing groups have gotten a raw deal and many now are actually farther behind because of the silly assumption of stigmatization that refuses to give them personal attention they need to remain in sync with their grade-level expectations -- their floor has not been raised to the ceiling, rather they've been anti-assisted -- if not for parents that seek outside help, these kids would be badly floundering. Perhaps worst off of all are the big hump of kids in the middle that, combined with the haphazard PARCC testing and questionable adoption of new math texts, have been through so much drama that it could nearly be classified as trauma...

The literal arm-flapping techniques that are a favorite of folks that hold distinctly backwards understanding of the supposed basis of their goofy classroom strategies have to be called out. The damage that has been done to kids by slapping new labels on them is immense. The Myth of Learning Styles | Folks too busy to actually read the books that they think defend their goofiness should at least read the columns the actual researchers share Multiple Intelligences Are NOT Learning Styles | Howard Gardner Ph.D. |
Our current BOE has many well meaning members that need to overcome their fears of micromanaging and insist that any new staff can clearly articulate a basis for progress. Refuting the Doctrine and Industry of Learning Styles | Psychological Science in the Public Interest

The Parents said...

It's official.

Anonymous said...

1-22 at 9:35 am said a lawsuit has been filed by a group of D181 parents alleging their children were bullied by D181 staff. Could we get more information on this?

One of the schools in this district has had complaint after complaint about the staff and teachers bullying special education students. Parents have met with the principal and administrators. One parent even spoken at BOE meetings. The bullying continues. The principal still participates in SEL programs all the while letting the bullying continue.

One family pulled their special education child out of this school in December. Another family hired an attorney for their special education child a few months before that.

How can we join this lawsuit? I have information and know people that have information. There's strength in numbers.

D181 has allowed this bullying to continue for years. The BOE and administration is just as guilty as the staff. They are allowing it to continue.

Please get us information so we can contact the attorney and help put a stop to the bullying.

The Parents said...

We, the bloggers, do not know anything about a lawsuit. However, we would caution,that student confidentiality should be respected first and foremost. Nothing anyone submits to this blog will be published if it identifies students or families by name. If individuals know of the existence of an actual lawsuit and want to share that information, we would encourage them to identify themselves and provide information for others to contact them.

Anonymous said...

Please report misconduct to The Illinois State Board of Education. There really is strength in numbers. There is an option to remain anonymous.