PEORIA, IL -- The score at the Feb. 24 meeting of the Peoria District 150 School Board was 6-4, with 1 neutral.
Six people spoke against Supt. Grenita Lathan, during the public comment section of the meeting. Four spoke for her. One was apparently neutral, though he has been critical of her in the past.
Here is a recording of the comments.
The speakers supporting Lathan seemed unaware of some of the facts surrounding the recent suspension and transfer of Charter Oak principal John Wetterauer. Parents supporting his reinstatement have joined forces with another group that has formed, Change150.
One Lathan supporter, Nedra Tate, said the state investigated the testing irregularies at Charter Oak, which is not accurate. District 150's own attorneys investigated.
Another Lathan supporter, Morris Jackson, complained about a book distributed by the Look! It's My Book group, saying it was offensive and inappropriate. These books are chosen based on recommendations by experts, and the students are allowed to select which free book they receive from several presented to them.
Jackson also complained about the lack of discipline at Charter Oak. "The students were "acting like animals in a zoo," he said, of a visit to the school.
Board president Rick Cloyd surprised everyone by apologising to one speaker, Brenda Wilson, for telling her to sit down while speaking at a meeting at Von Steuben school.
She accepted the apology, then said Wetterauer had been singled out, when principals with more serious transgressions were not treated the way he was treated. ""How can we not think it's a personal vendetta. It feels like you are failing our children. Bring our teachers and principal back," she said.
Parents have complained about revolving substitutes in their children's special education classrooms at the school, with their children upset by the changes.
Teacher union officials have filed grievances, since the union contract reportedly says transfers cannot be used as discipline.
Activist Terry Knapp presented the board with a petition containing more than 1,000 signatures stating a lack of confidence in the administration. He also mentioned the two instances of testing irregularities, reported below, when teachers and principals were not disciplined as Wetterauer and the teachers were at Charter Oak.
Activist Sharon Crews said she and Knapp were unfairly linked as a group when they filed Freedom of Information Act requests, and unfairly deemed recurrent requesters which allows the district to delay fulfilling their requests to 21 days.
Her report is published below.
The board's lawyer later responded that was because their letters contained multiple requests for information.
Mini McDonald complained that school resource officers cannnot carry guns, jeopardizing school safety.
Later, board member Debbie Wolfmeyer said that was not a board decision, and instead blamed the Illinois State Police Training Board, that "told us we can't do that. We are not the ones that did not want them to carry guns," she said.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here are the comments of Sharon Crews:
Four months ago Dr. Lathan hatched a plan to limit the number of FOIAs Terry and I can submit.
First, she declared us to be a group, thus cutting in half the number of FOIAs we could do as two individuals.
Then she made our group status retroactive to January, 2013.
Then she declared us to be recurrent requesters based on numbers totally unrelated to the truth.
Our additional punishment is a 21-day waiting period instead of the 5 to 10 days for a FOIA response.
In January, 2014, I wrote a FOIA pushing Lathan into admitting that she had no proof. The FOIA response states that the law does not require a public body to answer questions, so Lathan believes she is not obligated to answer questions that begin with “How many?”
Since questions cannot be answered, the FOIA response was to return to me all our FOIAs (with some duplicates thrown in). However, Lathan was unable to produce more FOIAS than we had written. Any of you who are interested in proving the truth can count the number of our FOIAs the District has on file. These are the answers to the “how many” questions:
As a group, our quota is 7 requests in a 7-day period. Together we never submitted more than 3 in a 7-day period.
Our quota is 15 in a month—we never submitted more than 7 a month.
The quota for a year is 50—and the District’s letter stated we submitted over 50.
The truth--I submitted 27 and Terry submitted 12 for a total of 39—11 fewer than the quota.
Now tell me how was Dr. Lathan able to call us Recurrent Requesters when the District, according to the FOIA response, has no record of our totals? This duplicity makes it easier for me to believe duplicity where reports of testing irregularities are concerned.
Board members, whose numbers do you believe? I do appreciate the two of you who responded to my e-mail—Mr. Cloyd and Mr. Crawford.