PEORIA, IL -- Here is a letter written by retired Peoria School District 150 administrators, which beautifully sums up the situation in District 150. It will be presented tonight at the rally and Peoria City Council meeting:
February 18, 2014
Dear City Leaders:
The retired administrators of District 150 support the removal of Superintendent Grenita Lathan, the three Instructional Improvement Officers, and the Chief Curriculum and Instructional Officer as soon as possible. During her tenure of more than three and a half years, she has failed to positively impact the academic achievement of students or the culture of the district. Rather, she has negatively impacted the morale of staff by creating a culture of fear and intimidation and has alienated the parents, staff, and community who have challenged her actions.
Shortly after Dr. Lathan became superintendent, she indicated publicly that the district had been dysfunctional and guilty of educational malpractice, which was insulting and disrespectful to those who had dedicated their careers educating the students of District 150. Because of her disregard for what those who preceded her have done, we are presenting our concerns to the City Council rather than the Board of Education.
Dr. Lathan’s efforts quickly became directed at making people “accountable.” In making people, particularly administrators, accountable, she began reassigning, dismissing, demoting, and intimidating administrators in an effort to submit to her authority and practices. This culture of fear and intimidation began to permeate the whole district with these administrative changes. The infiltration of administrators and staff from North Carolina and the change in the teacher evaluation process only further contributed to the perpetuation of this culture of fear and intimidation.
The Journal Star recently reported that “since 2011 leadership has changed hands at 24 of the district’s 27 schools (not counting a few that have since closed).” Because of Dr. Lathan:
- 6 central office administrators resigned or were demoted,
- 5 principals resigned,
- 1 principal was fired,
- 7 principals were demoted,
- 1 principal was reassigned,
- 2 principals retired early, and
- 3 assistant principals were demoted.
If the purpose of these leadership changes was to improve student achievement and create a more positive school culture, it has not happened. The primary reason the administrative changes have not been effective is that the people she has replaced the above administrators with have either been ill prepared or their skill sets miss-matched for the position to which they were assigned. It appears she has put in people who she can easily control or intimidate into doing what she wants done. Many of the administrative positions have been filled by her colleagues from North Carolina who have no commitment to Peoria or the district.
An example of her administrative changes has been the recent removal of Principal John Wetterauer from Charter Oak Primary School as a result of her accusation of testing irregularities. This has created a firestorm that has incensed parents, tarnished the reputation of one of the district’s top performing schools and its staff, and detrimentally impacted special education students whose teachers have been assigned to other schools.
The actions of the Board of Education and Superintendent over these past few months have brought to the attention and awareness of the entire community that her leadership style, based upon the philosophy and tenets of the Broad Foundation, have demonstrated how uncaring, insulated, and vindictive they both are. The Board’s disrespect and callousness for parents; unquestioning solidarity behind her recommendations; and, most recently, her disparaging words about the people of Peoria not wanting the district to succeed have raised serious questions regarding the ability of the Superintendent and/or Board to effectively lead the district.
We support the community-wide effort in advocating for change. This is a district-wide problem that will only be resolved when Dr. Lathan and many of those who came with her are gone and the Board either comes to their senses or is replaced. For the health of the district, the city, and our children, there has to be change sooner than later.
Retired District 150 Administrators
Note, 2/19,14): 4 central office administrators in original post corrected to 6, based on new information.)