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Parents, Community Members Seek Accountability from District 67 Board, Superintendent

Task force doesn't appease audience, who want the resignations of superintendent, board members who handled John Steinert's case in 2009.

 

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Despite the taking action Sunday night to accept John Steinert’s resignation as principal of over a sexting conviction in 2009 and form a task force to strengthen the district’s policies on harassment and the use of social media, audience members sought accountability in the form of resignations by Superintendent Harry Griffith and the board.

From the outset, comments were directed primarily at Griffith, who sat silent during both public comment sessions. Board president Julia Wold was the only one to respond to the speakers.

Lake Forest resident Michael Beacham set the tone when he told the board in the first public comment session prior to the board’s closed door meeting, “We need new leadership in District 67 in order to get past this.”

After the board revealed its action and voted unanimously to accept Steinert’s resignation, Lake Forest resident Jerry Tunney directed his comments directly at Griffith.

“He has bungled this tragedy for two years,” Tunney said. “This has been a total cover-up. Is this how my tax dollars are being spent? I hope not.”

Lake Forest resident Chris Munns, who is a principal in the Chicago Public School system and has two children at Deer Path, echoed Tunney’s thoughts.

“Shame on you,” she said. “You had a chance two years ago to rectify this.”

Lake Forest resident Kevin Carden asked the board if an independent investigation would be conducted into the district's actions, but Wold did not answer the question and thanked him for his comment.

Hannah Emmanuele, who ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the District 115 School Board last spring, repeated Carden's request. Wold did not answer the question directly, but said she would have to discuss this with the rest of the board, and that an answer would be forthcoming by the Dec. 14 board meeting.

Carden returned and asked the board if it will investigate whether other acts of harassment by Steinert were made. Griffith later said the district will conduct such an investigation.

When asked why the board would create a task force to look at school district policies that were in place two years ago when the incident took place, Wold explained, “We need to take corrective action to see this doesn’t happen again and make recommendations in that vein.”

But talk of a task force was not what the audience saw as a fix to this problem.

“How many of you were on the board in 2009,” asked one of the speakers.

Board members Laurie Rose, Jeff Pinderski and Wold raised their hands.

When asked if she would resign, Wold said no.

“I don’t think we need a task force,” said Beacham, who spoke a second time. “We need leadership. A true leader would have done more in 2009. A true leader would resign along with the board members who were on the board at that time. I’m embarrassed to call you my school board members.”

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Deer Path Middle School will have new leadership starting Monday when Andy Hendrickson, the district’s assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, will serve as interim principal until a successor is chosen.

Students will participate in a 10-minute classroom meeting Monday with an assistant principal, psychologist or school counselor, but they will not discuss the specifics of Steinert’s case. Parents can opt to take their child out of the meetings if they wish.

Michael Beacham November 22, 2011 at 11:05 AM
Shirley: You must not have been at any of the meetings. Responsibility has not been accepted. And appropriate remedies are not being put in place. The BOE is handling this current matter no better than they handled the Steinert affair in 2009. We can't move on because the community has lost trust in the BOE and the Superintendent.
Lispless in LF November 22, 2011 at 01:29 PM
No Michael, I respectfully disagree after attending the meetings myself. A number of people with personal agendas are still on the attack and in my opinion they do not represent our community. The Superintendent and BOE has clearly and compassionately admitted that they wish they could have discovered the facts and initiated action sooner and now a task force will begin to review and improve procedures to make sure what has been learned (subsequently gaining access to non-redacted reports) will result in appropriate discovery in the future. This was embarrassing for our district but we shall move on. At the public meeting last night, while a number of important questions and concerns were discussed, some of the people who spoke were so extreme in their opinions and accusations, and have “unique background circumstances”, and so I fear they may never be satisfied. I can’t believe how some people have such deep conspiracy theories and think that everything is cover-ups and lies, but this was no doubt a great opportunity for them to take the stage. While they are entitled to their individual opinions, they do not represent our community.
Really? November 22, 2011 at 02:19 PM
@Lispless in LF: excellently articulated. Thank you. Additionally, the few to whom you are referring are getting the majority of the tv news coverage, as usual. What a shame. As in any business, family, or school district (even), handling of situations like this are 20/20. We did/do have good leadership.
LAKE BLUFFER DUFFER November 24, 2011 at 12:56 AM
I agree with all of you that Harry's salary is irrelevant to the fact he mishandled and mismanaged a situation that put our children at risk. It doesn't matter if we pay Harry 1 milliion, if he isn't doing his job and fails to discover something as simple as he could have here with a competent HR person or follow-up, he should resign, he does not deserve 1 more dollar for a poor performance.
LAKE BLUFFER DUFFER November 24, 2011 at 12:58 AM
I agree with those of you saying that Harry's salary is irrelevant. You are right it has nothing to do with the fact he mishandled and mismanaged a situation that put our children at risk. It doesn't matter if we pay Harry 1 milliion, if he isn't doing his job and fails to discover something as simple as he could have here with a competent HR person or follow-up, he should resign. He does not deserve 1 more dollar for his poor performance.

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