Tuesday, November 3, 2009

D150: Rules? We don't need no stinkin rules

A phone call to District 150 Spokesperson Stacy Shangraw confirmed today that Administrator Mary Davis continues to be on Paid leave following allegations of theft and misconduct from fired Lindbergh Middle School principal Julie McArdle. This leave comes at such a time that we are also paying current Superintendent Ken Hinton-soon to be on medical leave, and Norm Durflinger, interim Superintendent. What Hershel Hannah's role is at this point is yet one more D150 mystery.

With this kind of payroll musical chairs, is it any wonder there is no money left to keep our schools open?

According to Ms. Shangraw, MD will remain on the payroll until the outcome of an investigation by the States Attorney's office. Ms. Davis has been on paid leave since September 8, with no end in sight.

This position by the District violates their own written board policy.

Apparently, the Mary Davis situation is not unique. Other administrators in other districts have faced similar allegations, and how a school district should respond has long been established. The written policy of our Board of Education cites case law and defines the official protocol that the district should follow in these exact circumstances:

Here are the provisions that apply:

5:120

Ethics
All District employees are expected to maintain high standards in their school relationships, to demonstrate integrity and honesty, to be considerate and cooperative, and to maintain professional relationships with students, parents, staff members, and others. The following employees must file a "Statement of Economic Interests" as required by the Illinois

5:240

Suspension With Pay
The Board of Education or Superintendent or designee may suspend a professional employee with pay (1) during an investigation into allegations of disobedience or misconduct whenever the employee's continued presence in his or her position would not be in the School District’s best interests, (2) as a disciplinary measure for misconduct that is detrimental to the School District as defined above, or (3) pending a Board hearing to suspend a teacher without pay. The Superintendent shall meet with the professional employee to present the allegations and give the professional employee an opportunity to refute the charges. The professional employee will be told the dates and times the suspension will begin and end. No suspension with pay shall exceed 10 school or working days in length.

In short, the district should have notified MD that she was being suspended and given her a specific start and end date, with the paid leave not to exceed ten days. MD would have then been entitled to a hearing. The District would put up the evidence that has already been provided compliments of McArdles lawyer and offered Ms. Davis the opportunity to refute it.

The evidence consists of (among other things) 1. documents with falsified student addresses 2. Statements showing the existance of a credit card, issued to Charles Lindbergh Middle School and used by MD for clearly personal expenses. Payments made to that credit card that are clearly shown coming from the student activity fund, an e-mail to Julie McArdle from MD stating incorrectly that the account no longer existed, and a statement by Ken Hinton saying it was not an authorized credit card.

My 8 year old can sit on the panel as he has a pretty good head for these things. She either followed our rules, or she didn't. Short of blaming it on an evil twin sister, the facts look pretty irrefutable. Do we really need the States Attorney to define right and wrong for us? Sad. If there was cause, cut her loose. It's the responsible thing to do. Follow the rules that each board member swore to uphold.

The District argues that they don't want the liability of MD suing them. If that is the case, why did they not feel the same way about the time Mr. Walvoord opened a letter stating If-you-fire-Julie-McArdle-we-will-sue-you? Where was the fear of liability then? Well the opportunity to avoid legal exposure to the district has come and gone as McArdles legal team looms in the distance, preparing subpoenas like party invitations. Thank you to whoever made THAT decision for being such a wise custodian of District assetts. [end sarcasm]

Why is the District afraid of Mary Davis but they weren't afraid of Julie McArdle? Very strange indeed. I am asking this board of Education to simply follow our written board policy. A policy position that was written to protect the interests of the children and taxpayers over the coddling of yet another administrator. What a novel idea!

21 comments:

Middle Aged Woman Blogging said...

Mary Davis sued in the past and won. I think they were hoping that McArdle was going to just go away. SURPRISE!!

Anonymous said...

The thing I haven't understood from the very beginning is why Julie McArdle was ushered out the door so quickly(having done nothing wrong), even though her attorney stated that he would sue the district. Yet, Mary Davis was moved to Cheryl Sanfilip's office (after Cheryl retired), given even more supervisory responsibilities, and treated with "reverence" by those around her, even with the evidence of her misdeeds all over the media. Try to dismiss these allegations, D150 school board!

Anonymous said...

Diane - they don't want to give her a public hearing because they don't want to hear what she has to say- "I did it because everyone else is doing it." Lets root out this rat infested shiip and start over.

kcdad said...

Wow... great job again on this, Diane.

And everyone wonders why I am so cynical... There is a great line that sums up District 150 Administration and its policies in the movie Teachers: "NO ONE CARES!"

It is not about education and can never be about education... it is a full fledged bureaucracy that exists only to make itself bigger and more powerful and suck up more and more money.

Anonymous said...

Incendiary, to say the least! Once again, thanks, Diane.

Anonymous said...

Are you the listing agent for Mary Davis' house in Dunlap. Supposedly it is for sale by REMAX......

Diane Vespa said...

Are you serious?

Middle Aged Woman Blogging said...

Scott Rogers!! Sign went up today!

Anonymous said...

Well, Friday October 23rd has come and gone and, rumor has it, via a viewer of last night's school board meeting, that Mary Davis's paid administrative leave begins NOW. Is this true or just a rumor? What's going on?

Sharon Crews said...

So the decision to pay Mary Davis indefinitely during this investigation is based on "past practices." Someone offered this comment, "Slavery was also past practice." I guess if the board makes a mistake in the past, they can continue the mistake as a "past practice."

Diane Vespa said...

The board clearly operated outside of their written policy. Beth Jensens comments regarding the statute requiring a convicted employee to pay back "paid leave" funds is completely erroneous, insulting, and does not change the fact that the board simply makes up policy as they go along. Tell me, in what other industry other than the disfunctional environment of District 150 can someone be accused of stealing money from the workplace and continue to go about their business as if nothing has happened? Real estate? Insurance? Stock Brokerage? Law? Of course not. The Administrations actions of not following written policy has not only increased our risk exposure, but also continues to cost the taxpayer $100's of dollars a day. This comes at a time that, simultaneously, letters are being sent home to parents asking them to provide paper for the classrooms. Will the last person associated with District 150that has even one remaining shred of common sense please stand up?

Keith said...

At $423 a day, MD has been paid $17,769 for sitting at home.

Diane Vespa said...

At $5. per ream, that would be 3,540 reams of paper. Just think... the teachers could easily go through at least the rest of the year without having to beg for...PAPER!

Anonymous said...

I truly believe that D150 makes up "policy" as they go along. No where in their policy does it say an employee can be on "indefinite" paid administrative leave. It also does NOT say that any employee convicted of a crime will have to "pay back" all salary incurred during administrative leave. Whose butt did that get pulled out of?

Anonymous said...

Since the board has failed to uphold the "board policy" that they agreed to do as per their swearing in, are there grounds to ask for each board member's resignation due to breach of contract or something along those lines?

Yogi Bear said...

If the board policy is set in stone, aren't all board members sworn in to uphold the policies that are in place? Isn't this also their individual commitment to the citizens that they represent? If that is the case, the board has failed to fulfill its sworn duty and therefore subject to removal from office. Something along breach of contract or something like that. I don't know all the "legal-eze" involved but, is it not the right of the citizens represented to repectfully ask for their resignations? Just a thought.

kcdad said...

"A day is as a thousand years"... to those in power.

Anonymous said...

be patient.....the MD clock is winding down.....

shay said...

Hello.

I'm not finding too much info on Tuesday's school board election, just meaningless one sentence soundbites in local media, stuff like "I have a plan" and "I'm not a finger pointer. I'm just focused on solutions." and Gary Stella'a editorial endorsing Lickiss. Can you point me to any meaningful info or offer any input?
Otherwise I'll probably just go for Lickiss and cross my fingers.


Thanks.

-Scott

Diane Vespa said...

Hi Scott,

I am supporting Jeff Lickiss, because I think he will demand more accountablity and meaningful change within the district. His philosophies most closely mirror my own, and that is, that the Woodruff closing was mishandled, and the Charter School should not be pursued until the District is on sound financial problems and the most pressing root problems within the district addressed. (Top heavy Admin, excessive and wasteful spending, nepotism and superflous contract spending, the need for more effective discipline and control of the classrooms, you get the drift...)
That said, I think all three candidates bring something to the table, and for that we are blessed.

shay said...

Thanks Diane.

I picked up today's paper and got a little more to go on.

You're right that all three are good candidates.

It is gonna be tough to select. I'm going to keep researching.

I also asked Emerge the same question today in her most recent "Whatever you want Wednesday" post from 1-27-10. I'm gonna go over there now and see if anyone has any ideas.

Take care,
-Scott