The Most Cockamamie Email Ever… About D96

In addition to my commentary below (in bold,  except for one use of bold in the original email, which is noted) I add one note:  Please, one of us, step up.  Run as a Write-In.  I will personally carry your docs to the County Clerk’s office.  This community needs FOUR new board members untainted by this Cruel Idiocy.  Thanks and best, c

February 1, 2013

Dear Riverside Public School District 96 Parents:

Over the past six months, this Board and our community have been involved in ongoing discussions regarding the handling and reporting of a September 2011 allegation of abuse made by a District 96 student against a part-time staff member.

FALSE:  In fact, we have been trying to understand why the Board bungled a staff matter, besmirched the reputation of a young teacher and took no action against a principal who was making serial false accusations against innocent people, who apparently lied to the administration and who apparently trained her fire on the young teacher at the job site after her attempts to have the Riverside Police Department do her dirty work failed.

Our number one priority is, and always will be, the welfare, safety and education of District 96 students. To that end, the Board has met with Superintendent Dr. Lamberson on multiple occasions and, most recently, on January 15, with Ms. Lieggi, the principal of A.F. Ames School, regarding the handling of this matter and their compliance with Board Policy 5.90 regarding Abused and Neglected Child Reporting which states, in part:

Any District employee who suspects or receives knowledge that a student may be an abused or neglected child shall immediately report or cause a report to be made to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on its Child Abuse Hotline 800/25-ABUSE or 217/524-2606.  The employee shall also promptly notify the Superintendent or Building Principal that a report has been made.  The employee may also request the assistance of the Superintendent or Building Principal in making the report. The Superintendent shall be notified of any report made by a Building Principal.

Specifically, our scope of inquiry related to  the nature and timing of internal notifications, personnel actions and communications with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and local law enforcement regarding this matter.

Based on these interviews, the Board has concluded that District 96 students were not placed at risk at any time.  [Emphasis in the original.] 

You are concluding this NOW???!  And you are announcing this NOW???!

The fact you are coming up with this ex post facto explanation shows you had no idea at the time what was going on.  The Board concluding today, in February 2013, that everything under its aegis in September 2011 was O.K. does not instill confidence.  Rather, it proves the point made devastatingly by a highly perceptive, fearless and insightful Riverside mom, to wit, that a teacher accused of CHILD SEX ABUSE (falsely from the get-go, as it were) was left in her classroom with our kids for two weeks before being removed. 

Had you known when the fearless mom raised the point in public at your meeting what you claim to know now, YOU WOULD HAVE SAID IT THEN, WHEN SHE ASKED IT. 

The fact you needed this email indicates (does not prove, but indicates) that the mom’s point had not been considered by any of you when it counted.  Instead, you had to back-fill your way to this improbable explanation well after the fact.        

DCFS learned of the allegations against the District 96 part-time staff member during a confidential victim interview of a student as part of a separate investigation. DCFS then notified Ms. Lieggi of the allegations.  However, within 24 hours Ms. Lieggi was informed by DCFS that they did not find the student’s allegation to be credible and would not pursue further investigation. During this time period, the staff member was not scheduled to work and had no school-based contact with students. Ms. Lieggi did inform the District Superintendent of this matter promptly as described in Board Policy 5.90.

So, you want us to take from this the conclusion that Colleen Lieggi first made one of her serial accusations against the young teacher and then learned (mirabile dictu!) her false accusation would not hold water, because somehow the young teacher’s name had (mirabile dictu!) popped into a Confidential Victim Interview, regarding another of Colleen Lieggi’s phony accusations.  And this restores confidence in Colleen Lieggi? 

At this point, according to you, and not divulged until now, she ‘informed the administration.’  But of what?  (‘I have lodged another false allegation.’ ‘Both I and DCFS know my latest false allegation will not hold water.’ ‘My most recent false allegation won’t hold up, am searching for other spurious grounds to dispatch the idealistic young teacher who i coerced into babysitting in my home… and giving my child tests that are only to be given in school…’)

It is certain that Colleen Lieggi shifted her efforts to get the young teacher fired.  She needed new grounds.  SEX ABUSE would not hold up. 

And the district, which is you… went right along with her. 

Funny that no one stopped to say, “Hey, ahhh, Colleen – we cannot help but notice this young teacher, the idealistic one who you groundlessly accused of CHILD SEX ABUSE, only to learn within a day that the charge would not hold up, we can’t help but notice that now, you are trying to fire the very same idealistic young teacher by alleging… X. 

“It seems to us there might be a bit more going on here than a performance issue…”

But no one did. 

And so, in blinding speed, Lieggi and the deceased Atty. Scariano met with the idealistic young teacher to tell her that for ‘X,Y and Z reasons, her job was ending…

…only to get walloped two weeks later by her union and her attorney showing ‘X,Y and Z reasons’ did not hold up (let’s hear it for those who stand up for themselves against the bullies)…

…and thence to the Great December 2011 Firing-Slash-Agreed-to Settlement, At Which We Picked Up the Tab for District (Board) Incompetence and Received No Teaching Time for It In Exchange (but we very competently inserted language to best squelch public discussion of our foibles).

And, even if no one noticed the dropped SEX ABUSE ALLEGATIONS, then, why did no one notice in October or November or December the fact that Colleen’s putative firing reasons (post SEX ABUSE ALLEGATION) back in September had not held up, either, and the result this time was the DISTRICT PAYING? 

We know none of this was put on Colleen’s chit because when we, the Witless Interlopers in the Board’s School System, finally caught on, in October 2012, thanks to fellow citizens and the Landmark, to what you had tried so hard and spent so much of our money to cover up, District Board of Education President Meindl told us, ‘Colleen’s job is secure,’ because ‘there was no performance issue.’

I guess lying in a SEX ABUSE REPORT and lying in a job separation meeting and costing the District money aren’t performance issues. 

I get it, but – not really.

And, going back, how could DCFS not cause a re-interview if there was a “new” allegation?  In other words, how did Colleen, the maker of the serial false accusations, know from the ‘notice’ that DCFS was exonerating the young teacher from the new false accusation, after an interview based on one of her prior false accusations?  Perhaps because she knew all of her allegations were false…?  Does any of this indicate to you that Colleen Lieggi is unfit for the office you have entrusted to her? 

Why not?   

With respect to our own actions and communications regarding this serious matter, the Board of Education has tried to balance both the privacy protections afforded minor children and legal requirements for confidentiality related to personnel actions with parent and media requests for communication, accountability and transparency. This balance has been difficult to achieve given the complex and sensitive nature of the specific situation that has sparked this discourse.

Good to know you have noticed the failure.  It is OK, there will be an election soon and the three of you abusing your position to electioneer in this email, specifically Mary Ellen Meindl, Jennifer Leimberer and Lisa Gaynor, will be relieved of your duties.  The fact that all of you supported this cockamamie email speaks well of none of you.   

To further assist us in assessing the District’s handling of and decision-making regarding this matter and to ensure that we have developed adequate procedures that provide for the safety and privacy of students, mandated reporters and District 96 staff, the Board of Education is taking the following additional steps:

  • We are engaging the law firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Roddick & Kohn to provide independent counsel and advise on next steps and best practices that can be implemented to strengthen our policies, procedures and related personnel actions following allegations of child abuse or neglect by a District 96 student against a staff member.
  • The above bullet represents a waste of money on a point that is, at the moment, purposefully diversionary and irrelevant to the core Lieggi Scandal.  What lack of confidence or latent conflict of interest in the D96-Scariano law firm relationship has caused you to spend additional money this way?  Why will you not address the rampant rumors of an off-hours relationship between two key players in this absurdist melodrama?
  • We are directing District administration to meet with local law enforcement officials from Riverside, Brookfield, North Riverside and Lyons to confirm a communications protocol and ensure that District 96 works collaboratively with them in their investigations of allegations of abuse or neglect of a District 96 student in a manner that respects and protects the privacy of all parties as appropriate.
  • The above bullet, until resolution of the Lieggi Scandal, represents a purposeful diversionary waste of time and money that implies disrespect for the fine work of the mentioned police departments.  You, District 96 Board, have enough problems to address, you hardly need to teach the PDs what they already know and practice.  Why should they listen to you?   

We are hopeful that these actions bring this matter to a just and fair conclusion. Recognizing that our community has great interest in and commitment to its public schools, we look forward to continuing to communicate with you about important projects and issues facing District 96, including continuing to improve our academic programs and the transition to new leadership.

 Your hope will not be fulfilled.  Your credibility is spent.  I think many of us want you to simply leave the Board.  Thanks for your time and effort, not everyone is cut out to oversee a $20 million per year operation, and you have shown you are not.  Stepping down is a good idea, at least stepping off the ballot.  Please do not exploit and abuse district time, money and other resources to electioneer as you have in this email.  It is illegal.    

Thank you again for your interest in and support of District 96 students, teachers, and schools.

Sincerely,

District 96 School Board:

How proudly you list the candidate and incumbent names below.  Why?

Lisa Gaynor

Nancy Jensen

David Kodama

Jennifer Leimberer

Mary Ellen Meindl

Michael O’Brien

Arthur Perry

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2 Comments on “The Most Cockamamie Email Ever… About D96”

  1. Jim Frantzis Says:

    Well done, Chris. “Absurdist melodrama” is a great description of this debacle, but as you know, we should not lose sight of how seriously damaging this has been to some innocent individual’s reputations as well as to the reputation of the district itself. I don’t always agree with you but in this instance I’m with you 100%.

  2. chrisrobling Says:

    Thank you, Jim, total agreement on the seriousness, which is compounded every day.


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