PEORIA -- The dustup at Charter Oak School may be history, but the parents are not letting the Peoria District 150 School Board forget what happened.
During her two minute public comment, Kathleen Diefenbach accused the board of dismantling the school by removing its principal, John Wetterauer and two teachers with the fallout also causing the custodian and secretary to leave.
"Students were excelling. They loved to go to school, she said. Then, with "nothing proved we lost our beloved principal, teachers, janitor and school secretary, who retired. She loved that school and those children. It is sickening that people sit here and tear apart peoples' lives, and say its good for the children," she said.
Tammy Lott used her two minutes to tell the board "it's been chaos at Charter Oak. Now four people are in place for the principal's job." Stability is gone, she said.
"Either you believe we're lying and there no fear and intimidation in our district, or this is happening and its justified," she said.
Activist Terry Knapp said the (long time) principals in the district are gone, while activist Sharon Crews said the district spent thousands on temporary buildings for 300 students to transfer to, but that will stop with the state receiving a waiver from No Child Left Behind. "We knew it would be over," she said.
Meanwhile Lindberg School didn't make AYP so now is off the "choice list" she said. See her printed remarks below.
School watcher Mary Beth Cunningham noted that the District report card is not on its website, prompting a response from board president Rick Cloyd that it should be placed there.
A recording of the comments and the board responses are posted here.
-- Elaine Hopkins
Here is the comment of Sharon Crews on April 28:
A year ago you voted to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for temporary classrooms at Charter Oak and Lindbergh because you believed Dr. Lathan’s argument that District 150 would be sanctioned—probably with financial loss—for not following a federal mandate to offer waivers for over 300 students to attend and be bused to schools that were making AYP.
We knew that NCLB would be over in 2014—and now there’s no arguing with this week’s PJStar story that stated, “All of the sanctions related to yearly progress are gone.” What words can you use tonight to convince us that all this disruption and expense in District 150 was warranted? Also, please keep in mind that while the temporary buildings were being set up, the 2013 test scores had already taken Lindbergh off the “choice” list. Also, all the havoc you have caused at Charter Oak has adversely affected any benefits planned for the transfers to Charter Oak. All the expense and chaos was for naught. But Lathan apparently isn’t finished yet as she just took two more beloved employees from the children—a custodian and a secretary.
In 2012-2013 you hired a Chicago public relations firm for over $20,000 and $600 for mileage. $8,000 was spent in 2012 for a one-month contract to hype ISAT scores to the public. Public relations firms are hired to make things look better than they are. Also, the Chicago firm was hired three times to hype the District’s strategic plan to the public at a cost of $4,000 each. Why can’t the District’s own PR department conduct such campaigns? Also, aren’t there any PR firms in Peoria?
You continue to convince us that keeping quality teachers is not a priority in District 150. -30 -
Here is her comment at the April 23 board meeting:
Keeping well-qualified teachers and maintaining contractual class sizes do not appear to be high on your priority list. When, if ever, in the last four years have you said “No” to anything Dr. Lathan has wanted to buy. IT purchases, programs, textbooks, barcoding system, food, travel, professional development, new administrative positions such as Instructional Officers and a labor relations director?
You have been willing to pay for state of the art equipment with no resistance, but you are willing to accept whatever is left over in August when all the best teachers have been scarfed up. For you, teachers definitely appear to be an afterthought.
If you put 30 students in a room with brand new expensive textbooks, 30 computers loaded with IPads, and a Smartboard and close the door, no learning will take place. A teacher who is qualified to teach the subject is essential to the learning process. Yet you have done nothing to insure that such a qualified teacher or even an unqualified substitute will be in many classrooms next August.
I challenge you to consider a moratorium on all but the absolute necessities until you have conducted a thorough investigation as to how all the IT equipment and programs are being used. I believe much of these purchases are underutilized or not used at all. I believe much technology was purchased with no plan for its use. You bought the stuff and hoped to create a need. You put the cart before the horse. What you did is to help Dr. Lathan create an impressive resume for her next job.
For most of my career, non-tenured teachers did not have to worry every March about being pinkslipped, awaiting word of state fund reductions. Am I correct tin believing that this yearly reduction in force did not start until the later 1990s? What has changed—why is the District totally unprepared for a reduction in state funding? -30 -