Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, SOUND OFF!


Anonymous said...

Well done new board! Thank you for taking action. However, paying White $100,000 to leave seems unnecessary. . He will already be getting his retirement benefits and has no right to earn a bonus disguised as severance pay. His next 8 months in our district will be a complete waste of salary time and only offer him more opportunities to make more costly mistakes. Instead of giving White severance pay, the community and families of this district deserve severance for the time that it will cost US to look for, interview, and supervise a new superintendent. Paying White a $100,000 bonus for poor service is unreasonable and a slap in the facet to employees who work hard every day and are never financially rewarded for it.

The board must now insist our lawyers write a superintendent pre-nup to present to our next superintendent that makes it clear if he or she is asked to leave, they will receive no severance package. It makes no difference if this is not usually done in IL - most school district's do not offer the salary and perks that Hinsdale does. Times have changed and so must we.

While I thank the board for finally taking action to correct the problems created by White, the previous board should be ashamed of itself. Had the previous board president taken all of White's transgressions seriously BEFORE they approved his contract again, our district would have saved over $100,000 of our district's money. By burying her head in the sand, the damage to our district was protracted for over a year. Why should we all have to pay for the oversights and ignorance of the previous board president when this issue could have been more cost effectively resolved by not agreeing to re-up his contract last year? Current board members had to waste their time investigating issues that should and could have been brought to light years ago, before White's old contract was up.

Finally, if Turek truly was the person to leak the information, he needs to be kicked off the board immediately. This is a serious breech of confidentiality. Staff and student privacy needs to be protected and respected. If someone on the board proves themselves to be incapable of upholding their duty to maintain secrecy, then immediate action should be taken to remove him. This person must be asked to sign a mutually agreeable contract to leave the board before more leaks are exposed and someone decides to take legal action against the board for violating their privacy.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more with 1:45. Whichever board member leaked the information should immediately be removed from the board. In my opinion, that is disgusting; he should be named and chastised publicly. I believe he breached his duty to our community and his fellow board members.

While investigating this breach, the board or someone from the state should also investigate why White's contract was renewed when it was. It concerns me that it was renewed before the new board was sworn in. Is there a reason for that? There have been concerns raised about White, his lack of transparency, his revolving door of employees, failures in the special education department and his general attitude for a long time. Why exactly did the former board and its board president rush to sign him to a new contract at the time they did?

Anonymous said...

Now that White is out, can we please remove that ridiculously overpaid marketing director, Bridget McGuiggan? I liken her to the Huckabee Sanders of district 181 - I can't believe much of what she writes or says. She seems to be a tool of Don White and to have willingly participated in his lack of transparency and his omissions. She may report to White but by perpetuating myths, I believe that makes her unreliable and untrustworthy.

Many people with marketing backgrounds (including me) would gladly take her position for half the monetary benefits and we would be a lot more forthcoming.

Anonymous said...

10:29: If Bridget leaves and you’re hired, I hope you continue to post on here. I’d be interested in hearing what the internal politics of the admin office are like, and hear how much they ask you to twist what’s happening. Obviously, this would be hard to do without revealing who you are.

Anonymous said...

The special education department really needs an overhaul next. STARTING AT THE VERY STOP! It's very disheartening!

Anonymous said...

6:44, I agree. At the moment, the Special Ed department only has an interim Assistant superintendent. To add insult to injury, the district's web page for vacancies doesn't even show an opening for the position. Plus, it doesn't have a thing for the assistant super for curriculum, either! We've known about this for what, 5 months now? Plus, the interims can only work 100 days a year, so they're not even in district 1 third of the time!

Also, each school has a Pupil or Personnel Services Administrator (or PSAs) who deals with school-level special ed stuff. I worked with one who obviously didn't know what she was doing, nor did she want to know. The PSAs are responsible for observing and evaluating the instructional assistants/aides. She once went to observe the wrong aide, showing that she didn't even know the people she was supposed to evaluate. Plus, she asked me to help setup a conference call for a meeting. As I'm not in special ed, I told her I'd make some simple instructions for her, partially so I didn't hear anything sensitive in the meeting. She replied back with something along the lines of, "No, I don't want to follow instructions. I want you to do it." It was going to be like 5 easy steps. So I'm like, okay whatever. So I go to the meeting and start setting it up. I made the mistake of thinking that a by conference call, she meant that she want a three-way call. No, she just wanted to turn on the speakerphone. Like, press a single button. Seriously?!? This person is RUNNING special ed for our building? Fortunately, she's gone now, but to hire this kind of person?

The Parents said...

7:10: Are you sure the SPED department currently has an interim Assistant Superintendent? We know that there are 2 interims sharing the Curriculum Department Assistant Sup position, but we were unaware that Sepiol had left. If she had, we are sure a lot of people would have written us letting us know, since it is common knowledge that parents have many concerns about her departmental leadership.

Old Person said...

Part 1: I am a 25 year resident of HInsdale and my 3 children went through D181 and D86. I am dismayed at the vitriol playing out on Facebook against the BOE for approving the Mutual Agreement with Dr. White. Do these people read the papers? Do they attend board meetings or listen to them? If so, how many? Have they bothered to follow the issues that this board has been dealing with? As an elderly resident/parent who has watched the departure of 4, soon to be 5, superintendents over the last 12 years -- Mary Curley, Jim Tenbusch, Bob Sabatino, Renee Schuster and soon to be Don White -- I can say that with the exception of Dr. Curley and Dr. Sabatino, the BOE's made the right decisions. Dr. Curley was driven out after 7 years of hard work filled with accomplishments in which multiple referenda were passed, new schools built, old schools renovated, gifted programs implemented at the middle schools and just when she was settling in to focus on broader curriculum improvements, the SPED heavy BOE drove her out. Next came Dr. Tenbusch, who was hired because of his tech and sped background. He left just shy of one year into a 3 year contract. Just google his name and you will see that trouble followed his departure from D181. Parents who attended an HMS meeting at which parents' concerns about a student's "hit list" were addressed by him, will recall the inappropriate statements he made during the meeting, shortly after which he announced his resignation. Certainly not the BOE's fault. Next came Dr. Sabatino, who was hired on an interim basis, since he was a retired superintendent. He was fabulous and kept the district afloat while decisions were made about who to hire on a permanent basis. Certainly not the BOE's fault that he couln't work full time or stay indefinitely. Next came Dr. Schuster and the HMS mess, including her comment about there not being any mold at HMS or she would have smelled it. That's a comment that a teacher brought to the BOE's attention at a public board meeting, shortly after which the building was shown to be over 70% infested with mold requiring the closure of the building and millions spent on remediation work. And then within one month of the reopening of HMS, she announced her resignation which was announced as a mutual agreement so she didn't have to pay $20,000 to the BOE as required under her contract, so she could move back to St. Louis and take care of her elderly parents. Seems likely that in Tenbush and Schuster's cases, the public announcements didn't really tell the full truth of the circumstances behind the BOE's accepting their resignations, but the bottom line is that the district was better off with the departure of these leaders.

Old Person said...

Part 2:
Now the BOE has announced yet another mutual agreement to end a superintendent relationship -- White's. There has been alot of vitriol spewed on facebook and on the streets of Hinsdale since Monday about how the BOE has a vendetta against him and it was unfair to terminate him for making a clerical mistake regarding the publication of the HMS referendum notice. I just shake my old head when I hear this because people are pretty naive if they think that anyone would fire a superintendent over a clerical mistake. Shortly after reading the news coverage on the accountability committee's report, I went to the D181 website and plowed through all the material that is posted. I then listened to podcasts of the committee meetings and discussions the full board had. I have the time, since I am retired and my kids are grown and flown. I have to say, that I was really disappointed to learn that Dr. White didn't just make a mistake, but he never told the board about it. Why didn't he? Everyone in town has been up in arms over the lawsuit that followed the mistake, but people seem to overlook that the district's bond lawyers refused to sell the HMS bonds after the mistake was discovered and long before a lawsuit was filed, because the legality of the election results were questionable. In fact, the board had to have its lawyers seek something called curative legislation to declare the election results valid. And did Dr. White tell the BOE about his mistake at any point during this whole mess? No he didn't. His silence was the same as lying. Covering up facts is the same as lying. Silence is the same as lying. So do I blame the board for not trusting him? No I don't. And I am sure that there is much more going on that this lie, since lots of my young neighbors have complained to me for years about the curriculum mess that continued under his leadership. So, no, I don't blame the board for doing their job. It is a tough job. A thankless job. A volunteer job. I thank them for doing what they concluded was the right thing for the district. And I thank Dr. White for agreeing to leave. Plus he is getting paid a bonus for agreeing to leave. Not what I would have included in his agreement, but if it was needed to allow the district to move forward, then so be it.

The phrase revolving door has been used to describe what's happened in D181. I challenge people to explain why Tenbusch, Schuster or White should have stayed and how that would have actually been good for the district.

Anonymous said...

Hi parents, this is 7:10, I might be wrong about Sepiol leaving. If I’m wrong, I apologize. I hope you can forgive me, or at least understand, considering how many administrators have left in the last year. Again, if I’m wrong, I apologize.

The Parents said...

7:10: No need to apologize. We agree there have been many departures, but unfortunately, she has not been one of them.

Anonymous said...

Regarding special ed senior leadership,I have just never met anyone so mean. For special education, you should be working with people, not destroying them. It's heartbreaking! The community deserves better!

Anonymous said...

I think it is really unprofessional how Marty Turek left the meeting right after the BOE voted on the agreement. I also don't understand why Nathan Lucht was absent. This is the second meeting that he's missed in which accountability issues were addressed. If these men can't make the time or don't want to spend the time doing the work, then they should exit with White.