UPDATE 12/19/13 -- Had it with District 150 and Lathan. Then please join this campaign: http://chn.ge/1bPVsyo
It's a no confidence petition.
PEORIA, IL - How about this for a likely scenario?
Peoria School District 150 Superintendent Grenita Lathan wanted to get rid of a veteran school principal with strong community support. So made allegations against him, hoping he would resign, as others have done.
People like this principal pose a political threat to Lathan's power. She has fired, demoted or harassed into resigning several others like this principal, and managed to carry it off. So why not go after one of the most powerful principals of all,Charter Oak Principal John Wetterauer.
Last week he was placed on administrative leave with pay, but he did not resign as perhaps Lathan had hoped. Instead the community rose up to support him and question what is going on.
Oops. The middle class parents and friends of this school and its principal have the resources to raise hell, and they're not going away quietly.
Here is the Peoria Journal Star's coverage of the resulting uproar, so far.
Wetterauer as principal is being held accountable for alleged discrepancies between "academic achievement" of third and fourth grade special education students, and their scores on the state tests. Apples and oranges, some say.
Wetterauer's supporters are furious, and it took only a few days for them to organize and pack the District 150 School Board meeting on Dec. 16, held in the Von Steuben gym to accommodate the standing room only audience.
They had signs, buttons and shirts supporting Wetterauer. Their comments during the public comment period raised some important questions.
Here is a recording of the public comments.
"What prompted this investigation?" asked one supporter."Are all the schools undergoing the same review? If he's not reinstated we will demand a full accounting of the facts and hold the board accountable."
District officials have said the investigation has been turned over to the Illinois State Board of Education. But another of Wetterauer's supporters said she researched the state board's policies to find that they don't intervene in grade discrepancies.
Activist Terry Knapp said the superintendent has shown "a pattern of bullying." He said that the superintendent recently banned for a year a handicapped woman using a walker who accidentally brushed against her at a school where both were there on behalf of their children."This is pathetic."
Wetterauer, Knapp said, "challenged the superintendent on a reading program" that he "refused to water down. This is a witch hunt," Knapp added.
The special education teachers involved, Knapp said, are "the best in the district." Their integrity is being challenged, he said.
Lathan has been here for three years, while the principal and teachers have been in the district for 25 years. "She's here three years and kicks people around," he said.
Activist Sharon Crews spoke of wasted money in the district. Her written report is devastating. Read it below, later.
Peoria Federation of Teachers president Jeff Atkins-Dutro addressed the administrators. "Look around. One of you will be the next. What are you going to do about it, stare at your feet until you are gone?" he asked.
He spoke of "the Machiavellian shuffling of principals and the atmosphere of fear and intimidation' in the school district.
Another speaker addressed the Stadium Park issue, which apparently is back on the table with the board considering expansion of athletic fields at the high schools. She asked for transparency in the board's planning process, and a public hearing.
The board has said no decision will be made on whether to sell the Stadium Park until after the March elections. A referendum to raise the sales tax to benefit school construction is on the ballot. The implication is that if it fails, the board will sell the property.
At the close of the public comments, Lathan had a chance to respond but instead said she had no comment.
The crowd rose immediately and left, and some said it was a 'walk out,' due to Lathan's lack of response.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here are the comments of Sharon Crews:
Tonight I have given you side by side costs for the last five years for all textbook, technology, and program purchases. In three years, this administration spent over $6 million dollars on books, mostly textbooks. Two and a half million was spent during the previous two years.
A greater difference in spending shows up for computers, smart boards, iPads, etc. About $3 million was spent in 2008 and 2009, but this administration spent over $11 million. However, the District website does not provide the data for expenditures over $2500 for 2008 and 09.
A little over $2 million was spent on programs of one kind or another by the earlier administration. This administration spent almost $11 million in three years. A total of about $28 million was spent on textbooks, technology, and programs in the last three years. I can’t help but ask how much of those millions should have been spent on teaching positions to lower class sizes in almost all schools.
Textbooks have been discussed from this podium and among teachers for three years. This administration bought $6 million dollars worth of books without teacher input. Such unilateral micromanaging is extremely unacceptable leadership.
I was shocked to learn that several of the very expensive new texts are consumable (See Exhibit A expenditures in purple). Perhaps that accounts for the textbook expenditures in the 2012-13 year. Most new texts were purchased for the 2011-2012 school year. Therefore, I was shocked to find that an additional amount of almost $600,000 was spent on Follett texts in 2012-13. Another $200,000 went to Houghton Mifflin and yet another $860 thousand to McGraw Hill.
That’s close to $2 million spent on textbooks last year. Many of the purchase orders state “replacement texts.” So will you be spending $2 million per year on books already purchased? These textbook companies made out quite well with no bidding process and no teacher input. Apparently, there wasn’t much board oversight either. Were you aware that so many texts are consumable?
Computers and smart boards are valuable learning tools. I am not going to question that expenditure too much, except to say that I hope that not too much of that technology found its way to Wisconsin Avenue and/or to the offices of employees where there is little benefit to students. The adage “haste makes waste” seems to apply in that you spent a considerable amount of money in a very short time.
The worst expenditure is the $10 million on programs. I looked up the names of all the companies on the Internet to try to guess how this District can possibly put to good use over 75 new programs purchased in three years and 34 programs that had been chosen by the previous administration.
There are over a hundred programs that I have listed according to cost—programs bought in haste and by whim with no teacher input and no time to analyze for duplication.
Just as curriculum guides are required for textbooks, guides should be written to show where all of these programs fit into the classroom instruction. Has that been done? Also, note how expensive these programs are and that the cost of using these programs seems to go up each year.
I know that Dr. Lathan will tell us that the $300,000 expenditure for Rosetta Stone is worth the money. Please do a study to find out how little this program is used—better yet find a way to determine whether all these programs are producing results equal to their cost.
I do want to say thank you for listening to our pleas for more transparency as evidenced by the listing of all the purchases over $2,500 on the minutes of the last four meetings. Therefore, I learned that in the last two months $83,000 has spent on more textbooks, $200,000 on technology and $20,000 more on Rosetta Stone. Haste continues to make waste.