Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My thoughts on Julie McCardle...

First off, I've only spoken with her a few times. When Laura Petelle was running for School Board I arranged a PTO meeting with her. I'd like to say that Julie, the staff and Faculty of Lindbergh, and the PTO were absolutely lovely to Laura. After Laura's PTO appearance, we both agreed that the connection she felt with the folks at Lindbergh was pivotal in her campaign. For that reason, and the fact that I consider Lindbergh our "neighborhood school", I feel a special passion for its continued success.

I understand that some parents and teachers were critical of Julie's style when she first arrived at LMS. I respect that and acknowledge that I wasn't there, so my opinion may not mean squat to some people. I'm cool with that, but I'm going to say this anyway - Julie got a RAW deal.

I have spoken with enough people close to the situation that I feel pretty comfortable with my grasp on things.

It is commonly accepted that Mary Davis, the former principal was well liked by many. In hindsight, I am suspicious as to how she achieved that admiration, but will leave it at that. A commenter on the blogs reported that Julie was "divisive". However, an LMS teacher told me that Lindbergh has been that way for awhile - that a clique-ish mentality existed long before Julie arrived. There are those who are on the team, and those who didn't make the try-outs - and I ain't talking about cheer leading. In fact, several teachers had expressed a fear for how well the new principal would fare.

When Julie arrived, people soon realized she was a stickler for the rules, and had a very no-nonsense approach to things. One teacher said that although she was considered strict, she really knew her stuff. Many were impressed with the vast knowledge that she had of curriculum, testing, evaluation and laws.

As the facts seep out regarding Julie busting up students that had used fraudulent addresses with the assistance of staff, and putting an end to the "I love you" payroll, having lived a full, eventful life, I can well imagine the hard feelings she may have created for herself. Those that were unable to maintain their "preferred" status under Mary Davis were soon relegated to "ordinary" citizen, parent, staffer, whatever. Those individuals sought each other out first for comfort, and then for strength.

I have heard several compelling stories (from more than one source) about how they worked to undermine her authority by capitalizing on the friendship they maintained with now Julie's boss, Mary Davis.

But aside from that, several commenter's on blogs reported erratic, nervous behavior on the part of McCardle. McCardle has reported through friends that she felt very intimidated and bullied by this network of scorned Davis supporters. I am well aware of the affects of bullying on individuals and feel that the series of events that transpired likely played a role if in fact she exhibited this behavior. Further, if she is incompetant, she has not had a nuetral set of circumstances to demonstrate that incompetancy. In other words, the actions of Davis negates the opportunity for any claims of incompetancy. Does that make sense? It does in my head.

I realize there are two sides to every story, and my perception may be skewed. If so, I doubt it is by much. Too much corroborating evidence.

The whole situation is disturbing. First, it is such a shame that these dynamics are going on in an institution that should be teaching kids mature adult behavior. Although I'm sure staffers were careful to disguise their pettiness in front of students, kids today aren't stupid and no doubt they picked up on some of the vibes. Reading some of THEIR comments on the blogs confirms this suspicion. How do you teach children that bullying is wrong when it is being modeled in the adult world all around them?

Secondly, why is Mary Davis still working? I've seen the docs with my own two eyes. I realize the allegations haven't been proven but I can read. These are some serious documented allegations.

Third, it will be interesting to see how the loyal "friends of Davis" will react to her if she is in fact found guilty. Friendship is great but stealing from kids would super-cede any sense of friendship I could feel with pretty much anyone - including my Mom. This is not to suggest in any way that I think my Mom steals from kids. Haha.

Fourth, why in God's creation did the school board vote to dismiss Julie before the facts were in? Never mind. Don't answer that. It's too troubling. One blog commenter noted that the accused is the same person responsible for the personnel reports that resulted in McCardles firing. How wrong is that?

I have received multiple reports that the District has informed staff and employees that as of the end of this month they will begin purging e-mails - despite the fact there is an on-going criminal investigation into the activities of its central administration. I have placed a call to the FBI and informed them of that fact.

Finally, I hope that somehow Linbergh can heal. We are here for our children. In 50 years, most of us will be dead and gone, but our children will be carrying our torch. How bright that torch will burn is up to us. Put your differences aside, kumbaya in whatever way you can, and get back to the business of helping our children grow to be the very best they can be.


Anonymous said...

This may be unfair, but I noticed how the previous principal moved in to a higher administrative role, so it brought up the commonly held belief that district 150 has way too many administrators. In looking at the district portion of any 150 school report card, one notices how district 150 averages only 168.1 students per administrator, compared to the more efficient state average of 211.6. Given the 13,600 student population of the district, that equates to 81 administrators compared to the state equivalent of 65 for a district this size. That's 16 more administrators, at an average salary of nearly $100k, or at least $1.5MM in excess (compared to the state average) for salaries alone - the total cost of that excess would be closer to $2MM annually, once you factor in insurance, payroll taxes, etc.

I can't help but wonder if district 150's administration is protecting one of its cronies. Julie McCardle may or may not deserve to be the principal - she may in fact be too difficult to work with for anybody - but it's hard to fault her for not getting along with the current administration.

Anonymous said...

How did it happen that so many parents, district administrators, and teachers showed up at that BOE meeting? After all, it had been scheduled as a Committee of the Whole meeting, not a Regular BOE Meeting and, therefore, a special 48-hour notice was required. The district's website was down, so it was not accessible to acquire the meeting information, and how many people really go to the trouble to go to Wisconsin Avenue and check the front door to see if a notice is taped to it? So how did they know the BOE was going to terminate McArdle's contract?

Obviously they were prepared - there were reports of clapping and cheering from the audience when the vote was taken.

Could it be that there were personal emails sent to "Davis' supporters" to attend the meeting? That is the rumor out of the district. If so, that sort of lends credibility to McArdle's allegations that Davis was an integral part of stirring up opposition to her principalship.

This is just getting weirder and weirder . . .

Jon said...

I posted the first anonymous comment and wanted to expand on it. I compared the district pupil/administrator ratio with the state-wide average. I believe I was being too fair to District 150. Typically, one would expect some efficiencies of scale - the larger you are, the greater number of students can be handled per administrator. So I looked up some other schools:

Unit 5 in Bloomington/Normal has a similar size as district 150, but has 296 students per administrator, compared to PSD 150 at 168 students. Unit 5 is the "good" Bloomington area district, but even the central Bloomington 87 district, with less than half the students as PSD 150, has a ratio of 236 students/administrator.

Rockford's school district is nearly twice the size - also not known for its stellar schools - but has a ratio of 239. The Chicago schools have a ratio of 255.

All of these examples are much greater than the state average of 212, and considerably greater than PSD 150's ratio of 168.

The point is PSD is EXTREMELY top heavy in administration and my example of a $2MM annual operating excess, just in excess administrators, is probably more like $4MM, if PSD could simply, from an administrator standpoint, run as efficiently as Bloomington, Rockford, Normal and Chicago.

teachingrocks said...

And yet, they have no problem keeping those administrators and voting to close schools. Now, which elimination would have the least effect on students?!?

Anonymous said...

Interestingly enough the district is having "server" problems starting last Friday. As of Tuesday still could not receive or send emails to outside the district, (school to school) through the district's own email service. They are waiting for parts for the server, that has ...more damage than originally thought, that are being rushed here from ... I don't know, this is Friday afterall.

Anonymous said...

Julie McArdle was planning this all along. She knows she's difficult to work with. In fact, I believe she stives to be difficult. She was lining up her ducks all along. Even the school district she came from was none too keen on her. I'm including teachers, parents, kids, and fellow admin. in that statement. Smart she might be, for turning her firing around on d150, but if she were realling thinking ahead, she would have done this to a district that actually had the money to back up the 'potential' lawsuit she thinks she's going to win. This woman should NOT be working with children. She doesn't even enjoy being around them. Give her a job where she doesn't have to interact with people, and get someone who has a lick of humanity.

Diane Vespa said...

Anonymous, contrary to what you state on this blog, McArdle has many, many friends and supporters who see her for who she is - a person of integrity and standards who was unwilling to lower them despite a cruel and corrupt environment. No matter how many attempt unsuccessfully to sweep the allegations against Davis under the carpet - the truth will come out. The evidence is virtually irrefutable. When that happens, and it will happen, I hope that McCardle's detractors (Davis supporters) will be willing at that point to start over on behalf of the students and give her (McArdle) the fair shake she deserves.

family said...

Obviously, anonymous is a disgruntled parent who didn't get the answers from Julie McArdle that they wanted to hear. Julie is an educational administrator NOT a politician. As an adminstrator, as in any job requiring decisions to be made, I'm sure Julie has made a parent or two unhappy because she made them hold their children accountable. I don't believe that is a reason to fire anyone, if it were, all administrators would be looking for jobs or, like Mary Davis, be looking at JAIL>>>>>

Anonymous said...

I am a Lindbergh parent and have had to deal with both Davis and McArdle for one reason or another and I didn't care for either. Davis didn't back up what she said and McArdle was completely irrational. Neither are good role models for our children. The good thing is that when Davis was principal, the kids weren't aware of her wrongdoings. McArdle was berating, rude and very disrespectful to the children. Our kids don't need either for their principal. Happy to see them both gone. Bring in someone who genuinely cares about the success of the children, not their own agendas. McArdle needs to be on medication....she's is like no other human I've ever met.

As for the administration being top heavy...right on! Cut those jobs instead of closing schools and cutting programs. 150 is way too political and is similar to Chicago politics - corrupt.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be alot of changes to District 150. Once a District 150 parent and proud to say no longer. I have attended PTO meetings. I don't know the process of them nominating the members, but i assume they nominate themselfs. Why i say that is cause it is like a big gossip fest. These few men and women hardly reconize the dynamic of the school population. I have found that the meetings our bored busy body women (not speaking of teachers of course, your kind of stuck there)That afterwards like to gossip of teachers, admin, other parents. Shouldn't the PTO members be legimate people of the school, that have really made a difference. Really do you need a President, and Vice President... shouldn't it be all equal forum with certain assignments. Who are these people, from what i have seen only one 150 President for the PTO has worked with her community and at the school with the children. That is Cindy Morris. The others well, what have you done? You say your there for the children but it seem your there for almost a high school click, who has time for that. When my children went to 150 and i would go to meetings, all i heard was talking afterwards of people behind there backs. District 150 corruption started there. Get the PTO to meet certain standards. Proper education levels, at least a college education or least a background checks. We are dealing with schools. Get the name sayers, the two face people out of there and you will see alot less tension. Parents that want to make a difference wouldn't be spending there time attending meetings of their Principal firing and then clapping. How mature is that!!!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Mrs. McArdle was not even allowed to let the parents of Lindbergh students know in the monthly newsletter that elections for PTO officers was going to take place soon. She was told to remove it by PTO officers. We call this, the tail wagging the dog.....