Thursday, November 2, 2017

Revolving Door Argument Rebuttals

Since Monday's BOE vote to approve the Mutual Termination with Don White,  we have followed social media criticisms of the board's decision, asserting that his departure is the latest in a series of unnecessary revolving door departures and that the 4 board members who voted to approve the agreement have a vendetta against him. 
2 - Good leaders don't lie - by omission or commission - to their superiors or their employees. The publication error wasn't simply a clerical thing. Not only did it take taxpayer dollars out of the schools to pay for legal fees, Dr. White lied about it when directly asked.

3 - Good leaders know they are ultimately responsible for all actions of their employees. Maybe a staff member should have caught the error, but ultimately Dr. White was responsible. He was negligent in not making sure appropriate procedures were set up so the error didn't happen. This District ran six referendum prior to this one - publication dates were never blown.

4 - Good leaders rise to the challenge. D181 is at the top of the food chain for salaries to administrators as well as many other tangible and intangible job perks. Superintendent talent is not going to avoid accepting a job here for fear of being fired. Good leaders will rise to the challenge. I hope the BOE does its due diligence well and finds a leader who knows how to lead.

October 31, 2017
Anonymous said...
Response to the 12:16 comment:
Are you kidding me? This board was "punitive" and "short sighted?" No way.
I commend this board for finally doing what should have been done last year: giving White his walking papers. A contract extension that was issued by the previous board is the last thing that should have happened based on the state of the district and the fact that several key administrators left because they weren't supported by White. We all know this, so get your head out of the sand.
Have you forgotten White gave Kurt Schneider (his favorite suck up) a promotion to oversee the learning department and the curriculum for the entire district? I haven't. I'm still working on cleaning up that mess with my kids and the holes they have in their math instruction. 
So you'll excuse those of us who think the district will be better off without White in charge. My praise and accolades are for the 4 board members who took appropriate action.
District 181 needs real leadership, not a seat warmer.

October 31, 2017

Old Person said...
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.
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. November 2, 2017

As always, SOUND OFF!


Anonymous said...

Bloggers: Have you seen the Hinsdalean's coverage of the termination? They wrote an article and editorial, which you can read at and

I think they are being really unfair in their editorial, but the question they raise at the end is probably worth answering, if for no other reason than to school their ignorance. They ask:

"We have one question for board members: Why is it that administrators want to spend so little time here?"

Can you write a post addressing their editorial?

The Parents said...

9:31: Thanks for your comment. We will read the Hinsdalean coverage and consider a post. Stay tuned.

Anonymous said...

I think there are several reasons why they leave. Some, like Schuster & White, have made several, serious mistakes (ignoring the mold problem at HMS, accelerating all kids a grade, even those who weren’t ready, disclosing directory information on the students, able to but not preventing a lawsuit plus the coverup). Some, Like Kelley Gault, supposedly wanted to work in a K-12 district, not just a K-8 district. Others, I feel never really wanted to be in District 181. They just used as a means to an end: go through the motions to get free tuition reimbursement for their doctorate and superintendant endorsement and leave as soon as they can get hired to a superintendant position.

And, let’s be honest, we’re a fairly demanding community, as we should be. On Trulia, half the homes in Hinsdale are close to, if not above $1 million. Our property taxes are sky high. So we expect the best in the state, if not the nation and even world. We need someone who can prepare our kids for the world. Not someone who’s just in it for the (overly big) paycheck. Not someone who costs the taxpayers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, for issues that could have been prevented. If that makes us demanding, then I’m damn well proud to be demanding! If they can’t handle that, they don’t deserve to be here.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to Warren Shillinburg? I remember years ago people wishing he would become superintendant. Or am I remembering wrong? (That tends to happen to me)

Anonymous said...

I just listened to the public comments from the beginning of last weeks meeting and am stunned. One person stated that the boards' actions regarding Dr. White would come at "costs to their personal reputations." Easy there, Godfather. Jump to 4:03:35 to hear the public comments yourself. In my personal opinion that comment seemed to be a thinly veiled threat to board members who supported White's departure. Threats like this are dangerous because they weaken the basic tenets of democracy and local governance in this country. While what this person said may have just been a slip of the tongue, nonetheless, it should be addressed by the board and the superintendent. School board members who work tirelessly reviewing years of evidence in order to reach difficult decisions should be commended, not threatened. While I have not always agreed with school board members I feel the words and the tone expressed by some of speakers last week lacked thoughtful objectivity and sensitivity. If the decision truly was mutual between the board and Dr. White, then both sides need to come together and publicly set the record straight for those who are still confused why the decision was mutual. As a D181 and D86 parent myself, I want to make it clear that the people who spoke in support of Dr. White last week in no way represent the views of my acquaintances, my neighbors, or me. I feel this mutual separation was long overdue.

Anyone who listens to or attends the curriculum meetings knows that Dr. White had nothing to do with "re-vamping" the curriculum. After he allowed Dr. Kurt Schneider and friends to make years of horrible curricular decisions based on social agendas rather than on scientific evidence, Mrs. Gallt and the parent volunteers on the curriculum committee came in and FIXED the mess. Anyone who listened to the meetings heard how hard she worked to peacefully correct the years of errors and poor decisions approved by previous board and administrators. The fact that she left speaks volumes about her boss. For people to perpetuate the myth that Dr. White is leaving due to a simple clerical error from a county clerk is absolutely ridiculous! Seriously? If anyone really believes this ALONE was the sole reason for the mutual separation, you are being naive.

The only people with full access to the whole story are the current board members and the district's attorneys. Anything anyone else thinks is conjecture. Remember, the decision was made based on information that will NEVER be made available to the public due to mutual agreement of both parties. There is no transparency in confidential settlement agreements made by school districts and their lawyers. Only Dr. White and a handful of others will ever know the truth. The accountability committee based their decisions on confidential documents, contracts, and discussions that took time away from their own families and professions. While some board members may not have grasped, or even read the important details, I have faith that the majority of the group made an excellent, thoughtful decision in the best interest of our children and taxpayers. I thank this group of board members for courageously standing up for the interests of our children and this community.