Thursday, June 8, 2017


One year ago today, we suspended publication of this parent blog.  (6/8/16 Post)  Today we have decided to reopen the blog for the summer, in order to allow parents to SOUND OFF on D181 issues.

Although our children have all graduated from D181 schools, as taxpayers and community members, we remain invested in the schools, and in particular ensuring that students receive the best education possible within the walls of all nine schools.  Over the last year, we have listened from the sidelines to parent discussions regarding the state of curriculum, budget and building projects.  We have also read press coverage on these topics and listened occasionally to board meeting podcasts.  This morning we received the following comment on our last post asking us to reopen the blog.

Anonymous said...
Dear Bloggers:

Recent actions at the D181 central office do not pass the smell test. That office needs to be disinfected! Please consider re-opening the blog for the summer so that we can shine a light on the recent actions of Dr. White and company. We need to bring accountability and transparency back to D181. We need your help Bloggers!
After reading this comment and considering what we have been hearing from parents in the community, we agree that reopening the post, at least for this summer, is approrpriate.

It is not our intention, at this time, to publish posts that we, the parent bloggers, write. We will, however, publish comments and if appropriate, highlight them as free standing posts. Depending on what is submitted, we may choose to investigate issues and write our own commentary, but that will depend on what is submitted.

We will now wait to see if community members want to SOUND OFF on D181 issues.

The Bloggers


Anonymous said...

We've lost two of the district's best administrative employees in a matter of weeks. I'd like to know the real scoop on what happened. Both of them went to lesser districts for, I believe, less money and prestige. I know that money isn't everything but both Kelley Gallt and Griffin Sonntag were among our best with unlimited futures in this district. Any CHMS parents out there with insight?

Anonymous said...

Lesser districts? I would hardly call District 107 is a "lesser district!" They had similar, if not worse, issues as D181, but have worked extremely hard to clean it up. Money and prestige aren't nearly as important as building relationships, trust and support. All it takes is a stellar leader at the top and the rest will fall into place.

Anonymous said...

Everyone seems to have a very short memory. I received Dr. White's end of year email and was unhappy he sang praises for the CHMS principal who is leaving. Not everyone in this community is upset he is leaving.

Anonymous said...

Please encourage parents to blog about the special education department and its personnel. In my opinion, it has gone from bad to worse and has been allowed to destroy children (and their futures) for far too long. I hope at least that any parent who has been threatened or has had their children threatened will post here especially if you are afraid to go to the board.

Anonymous said...

Comment #2: Absolutely agree with you that everything starts with a stellar leader at the top.

Dr. White has been here for 3 years and everything he has touched has spiraled downhill while he made so many promises that he would clean things up after Dr. Schuster left a mess. 1. Top administrators are leaving for lateral positions and less pay. 2. Unhealthy culture for women. White promotes a "good ol' boy' club. 3. White keeps hiring his inexperienced friends from Troy. 4. He doesn't support or embrace excellence. I think it makes him feel insecure instead of realizing it will make everything better and make him look good. 5. There are widespread rumors of intimidation of special education parents and their children. 6. Chaos at all levels of organization and in my experience, accountability starts at the top with Dr. White.

The real progress made this year was led by Kelley Galt and her team in the curriculum department and now she is leaving after less than one year. Have to wonder what White did...

The Parents said...

We have been reading with interest the first flurry of comments that have come in since we reopened the blog yesterday. We hope that any district that hires our departing administrators bothers to do basic online due diligence. Then if they want to hire our departees they do so with full knowledge of what they are getting.

Further, we want to state that one of the reasons that the blog was able to remain silent for one full year was because of the excellence of the current Assistant Superintendent of Learning, Kelly Gallt. We have heard nothing but praise about her at social gatherings over the last year. We have to admit we were skeptical that anyone could come in and fix Schneider's mess, but Ms. Gallt did just that and put the district back on track in the area of curriculum. Now parents are understandably upset that she is leaving and have been speculating as to the real reasons she is leaving after just one year. We hope the BOE gets to the bottom of her departure and fires those responsible.

We can only hope that the interims the district has brought in to continue Ms. Gallt's curriculum updates and rollout will follow her plan to the letter. The district can not afford to deviate from the path she has started it on.

Ms. Gallt was responsible for regular curriculum. She was not involved in the SPED department. We have been hearing some horrible nightmare stories from parents about the state of SPED under the current administration. We encourage all negatively affected families to speak out, not just to us, but to the BOE.

Anonymous said...

Good advice to contact the BOE. The more detailed the information you send them, the better.

To report misconduct regarding your child's IEP and/or unfair denial of IDEA, contact: REPORTMISCONDUCT@ISBE.NET
Google ISBE misconduct to find the official form you can submit online. Send detailed information.

To report misconduct regarding your child's 504 or denial of 504 Accommodations and Supports supported by ADA,

Office for Civil Rights, Chicago
U.S. Department of Education
Citigroup Center
500 W. Madison St., Suite 1475 Chicago, IL 60661-7204 Telephone: 312-730-1560* Fax: 312-730-1576

Hiring a lawyer is basically a win-win situation for your attorney and the school district's defense firm. If your lawyer is not willing to take your issue straight to trial, find a new lawyer.

Anonymous said...

So happy the bloggers are back! Woo hoo!

Anonymous said...

Comment #1 -

We actually lost three awesome administrators in the last few weeks. In addition to Kelley Galt and Griffin Sonntag, we lost Angela Stallion, The Lane principal. Angela has impeccable credentials, was doing a great job at The Lane and is now leaving for a lateral principal position. Doesn't make sense. Got to wonder what is going on in the administrative offices...

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Angel Stallion replaced Casey Godfrey as principal and he was great too. He was only at The Lane for a couple years. He left for a Principal job in River Forest. Who has the superindentant been during this whole time? I believe Schuster hired Mr. Godfrey, but hasn't Don White has been superintendent for the last 4 or 5 years?

Anonymous said...

So I am following the District communication on Board Docs...

is anyone concerned at all by the math trajectory being so aggressive? kids are graduating two and three years ahead which I get there are smart kids here in this high performing district but when you look at other surrounding districts, I feel like the focus is enrichment and gifted programs to meet needs of exceptional learners and then enrichment to meet kids who need perhaps one year of advancement.

I am from CPS which arguably has struggling learners and accelerated learners--and teachers of the same. But here it feels like everyone is advanced. is that true?

But now we have a program that gets kids two and three years ahead quickly and what emotional and social supports are there and to what end--what's the finish line if the start line in third grade is tracking where kids enter a system of acceleration?

just curious. i have a 2nd grader and an incoming PreK student so I'm miles away from the discussion for this year. But curious about what the future holds for my own two and for the district as a whole.

Anonymous said...

To the previous poster--- I completely echo your reaction. Seems very unwise to me to rush math instruction to that degree --even for advanced students. I also agree that other high-performing districts don't go this far, and maybe there's a reason why.... At some point, it seems outlandishly fast and probably not developmentally appropriate to be skipping up to to three grades in math. I also thought that under PARCC, the emphasis is supposed to be on obtaining a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts-- not just a quick grasp of them....

Anonymous said...

Something tells me that the district will only get worse considering the current state of the Illinois budget. While a small minority of the district's funding comes from the state, it is significant enough to have dire consequences, especially on SpEd.

Plus, I have issues with the way the district handled the whole HMS design process. I'm a Clarendon Hills resident as well as a former HMS student (before CHMS was built), and I believe some serious work needs to happen at HMS. However, I feel the administration has dropped the ball on it. I've talked to some of the administrators, and it seems like they were never totally serious at looking at other places to build a new school. They didn't get the current site appraised, so they wouldn't know if they could afford a different site. There are rumors that to find other locations, they only looked at Google Earth to find open land. Forgive my ignorance, but why not go to a realtor and see if there are any sites big enough, even if they had to tear down what's there? Plus, it seems like they had a design competition BEFORE figuring out what they needed & wanted in it. I've heard that this is one reason why the cost originally went from $45 million to $73 million.

I have also checked on BoardDocs and found the Spring Survey results unsettling. Many people (staff & parents) concerned about the constant change in administration, as well as poor communication. While I have never personally had some of the issues some people have faced, like bullying or rude SpEd staff, I am not totally surprised by this.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that no one has of yet commented on D181's proposed ban on recording IEP, 504 and other meetings with school staff. All parents and taxpayers should be up in arms about this.

Whether or not Don White and Company can somehow figure out a way to legally ban parents from recording these meetings is not the issue.

The issue is WHY????? What do they want to HIDE? Where is the transparency in the process? Are the administrators from our special education department saying things that are illegal or illogical and that could later be a problem for D181?

When did we become a district that is about protecting the teachers and administrators and foregoing the education of our children?

Frustrated said...

The only reason to bar recording is if you have something to hide. D181 notes don't look like my son's advocates - or mine.

Anonymous said...

On Friday the Board will meet to ratify Mr. Mohsin Dada as the new CFO. Mr. Dada is already the recipient of one of the highest TRS pensions in the state of IL, cost one of his former districts taxpayers a large pension liability (5th highest in IL in 2005)(,amp.html) and now will be collecting a second pension from IMRF after what I am sure will be a brief stint in 181. Why are we the cash cow for these highly paid administrators? This is not right!

The Parents said...

1:40 -- Your concerns are valid. All D181 taxpayers should be concerned about a state that allows retired school administrators to benefit from a second pension fund simply by virtue of a change in job title. And D181 taxpayers should be concerned about a superintendent who makes such hires. Unfortunately, Mr. Dada was already approved as the district CFO. See the following Personnel Consent Agenda approved by the BOE on May 22, 2017:$file/2017_05_22_Personnel%20Agenda.pdf

The board docs for this Friday's Special meeting indicate that Mr. Dada is now going to be ratified as the district's Treasurer. See:

Interesting that this is on the agenda, since at the June 26, 2017 BOE meeting, Mr. Dada was also already approved as the district's treasurer. See:

Could this have something to do with the information that was published on the Drop the Lawsuit Facebook page? See:

Has the D181 adminitration made the mistakes alleged in the letter published on Facebook? More importantly, if mistakes were made, will anyone be held accountable?

The Parents said...

This afternoon we received a comment which we have decided not to publish. We wanted to explain our decision because while the post raised valid concerns, it dealt with student behavior issues that we believe are better addressed directly to the Board of Education. We encourage the person who submitted the comment to immediately contact the BOE and share your concerns.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank Yvonne Mayer for all the work she has done & continues to do for the district. I recently looked at the agenda for the Bond Referendum Review and Accountability Committee meeting, and she made a very thorough, well researched comment. She continues to amaze me on how much she cares about the district and how thorough she is when she presents information. Thanks again for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Not sure anyone else has seen the Board Docs agenda for Mondays meeting.

First--Terri Hanrahan has resigned. Whether you liked her, knew her or had no clue who she was-the bottom line is this is YET ANOTHER employed professional of the district department of learning to quit. Anyone think this is odd now? We've lost Kelley Gallt after 1 year; Terri Hanrahan after 1 year; we've lost principals after 1 to 2 years; we've lost Teachers on Special Assignments hired and then resigning right away; departmental secretaries; the list goes on.

What we haven't lost is Don White.

Two-This is a critical year for the District. We have new curriculum in all the subject content areas. Teachers and staff are without leadership that has experience, tenure, professionalism, training, and support to lead the charge and grow the charge implementing it with fidelity and continuity among all of our feeder schools.

Three--the math trajectory is a joke. We are accelerating and advancing kids on all sorts of criteria that changes yearly. We have combined groupings and 2/3 of our grade level classes advanced in math in many schools. We have kids skipping one to two to three years of content with continued acceleration because for years the criteria has changed. We have grandfathered cohort groups of kids who have low scores, no scores, or no data and some who do or have too much data. There are kids with low MAP scores and no MAP Scores but teacher buy in. Doing the bridge advanced a bunch of kids who needed only 70 percent to advance. Kids who needed to qualify for advanced needed 80th. And then still, there are kids who need 99th supposedly for acceleration BUT GUESS WHAT--we take kids lower than that and some who are grandfathered are hovering at 85th. And still some are below that. Then do we look at the numbers of kids who continue long term? Rumor on the street is that kids entering middle school are taking steps back. It is too much pressure. Where is due diligence here?

Four-we have no follow through on the advanced and accelerated programs for kids in math. And now there is possible talk of tiering for science in Year 2 of roll out. Like seriously? We can't even clean up our math and we roll out advancement possibilities in science in the future?

Five-District school websites are all over the place. Some schools do them some schools don't but they all tell you at curriculum night to go to the website. AHEM. Your website has photos of kids from 3 years ago.

Six-We get bulletin after bulletin about HMS. When are we going to have an action group called VOTE YES FOR CURRICULUM CHANGE AND CONTINUITY. I said it first. You heard it here.

Seven-what is wrong with a District that can't keep qualified people on deck? We're a lighthouse district they say. Really-I don't see anyone looking for our beam in the darkness. Instead, I see them all running.

I don't envy the BOE. But I do charge them with dealing with this nonsense.

Skyward was rolled out. But do you know the email feature was turned off? In other districts, they load F and P on skyward, they load grades not just for middle school but elementary too. They have weekly check ins by teachers; comments; the list goes on. In D 181, we don't do that. We do however give a grading day for teachers so they can have one whole day to grade. Unheard of in any district 50 miles in either direction around here.

The bottom line. D 181 is great because the parents are great. They pay, they supplement, they tutor, they donate, they fundraise, they volunteer. There are good teachers. Absolutely. But there are many more who are toting the line. And who blames them? They can't have consistency. They don't have the same criteria year to year. And they don't even know what resource is being used because it changed overnight.

Anonymous said...

9:15 - you should start the new Vote Yes group..... you have the knowledge and passion.