Archive for the ‘District 96’ category

The Voters and Districts Won

April 9, 2013

Congratulations to tonight’s seven winners in Districts 208 and 96, and thanks to all candidates.  It takes special determination to campaign.  Since in these candidates, that determination is based on a desire to serve others, the mere campaign was itself noble.  Seven will now hold office and continue their service.  To them, thank you in advance for all of your time and energy, and best of luck as you work on our behalf.  With you go our hopes and aspirations.  Please be bold as you pursue them.

Questions for D96 Candidates

February 25, 2013

For the heck of it, and expecting no replies, here are my questions for all candidates:

1.  What are your take-aways from the Lieggi Scandal ?  Specifically, if you are elected what steps will you take to prevent another such mess ?  Please be specific.

2.  If elected, you will soon have a new superintendent.  Acknowledging you are just one vote, and the Board must act as a whole, what five priorities would you yourself personally present to the new superintendent ?

3.  Which curricular attainment areas, if any, of D96 are, in your opinion, not what / where they should be ?  Why ?  As a board member, what will you do about these ?

4.  Questions have been raised (please see, up this thread) about the Board’s direction and oversight of the $18 million renovation.  What is your reaction to the price, direction, oversight, transparency and FOIA compliance issues raised therein ?

5.  D96 has decidedly “Taxed to the Max,” building up reserves at one point of $43 million.  Some say we borrowed $10 million we did not need so we could keep “Taxing to the Max,” and are now stuck paying $325,000/year in interest, which is a good four teachers/year.  Will you support the “Tax to the Max” policy or oppose it ?

6.  Parents of special needs children have banded together to advocate for greater sensitivity / responsiveness from D96.  What statement do you make to these parents, and the community at large, about D96 and special needs ?

7.  At least since the founding of Network 96 there has been an organized or a visible expression of parental disappointment with how D96 treats parents.  [I myself said at the new superintendent public input session that since 2001, my experience has been that D96 treats parents as “witless interlopers,” with all attendant disrespect and derision.]  Does any of this resonate with you, or not ?  In your view, how should D96 treat parents ?  If elected, how will you work to bring that about ?

8.  The President in the State of the Union address said his administration will challenge U.S. high schools to “better equip graduates for the demands of a high tech economy.”  In your view, how does that national priority translate to the D96 curriculum?  Are you satisfied that our D96/D208 curricula mesh enough to take kids as far as they can go in their 12 (or 13) years in the two systems ?

9.  While, statistically, American suburban elementary schools are one of the safest environments on earth, the multiple victim public shooting by a deranged individual in Newtown, Connecticut has raised security questions for all in elementary education.  Are you satisfied with current security at D96 ?  If not, what steps might you support to strengthen security ?   

10.  What D96 policy, program or practice not yet mentioned, if any, strikes you as needing a new look and possible change ?  Please be specific.

Please Read Steven Battersby’s Landmark Letter to the Editor

February 20, 2013

“District 96 should accept responsibility”

One of the most distressing aspects of the Lieggi Scandal has been the Board’s equanimity about ruining Susan Battersby’s teaching career.  She now works in a warehouse, I am told.  I have never met her.  It is an outrage, but the Board could not appear to care less.  I believe Ms. Battersby should be vindicated, and, as has been said by many, Lieggi dumped.  Please take a look at Mr. Battersby’s — her father — thoughts in the letter linked above, and evaluate the performance of the folks who brought this on.  Not their staff, not their top staffer, the superintendent, but they themselves personally.  The staff is the Board’s responsibility, just like this painful mess.

Lax Construction Management Detailed at D96

February 20, 2013 (click on video #2)

Above is a link to the presentation that Mary Ellen Meindl and D96 staff sought to derail at last night’s board meeting.

Very disturbing:

A) According to statements by Mary Ellen Meindl and senior staff, and documents obtained by FOIA, the board approved $18 million in construction payments last year without reviewing proper documentation, specifically, the lien waivers.

B) We paid $400 for gfi sockets that cost $20 at Home Depot.  We are paying our architect unlimited 7.5% markup; at RBHS, thanks to Attorney Karen Layng, they negotiated to guaranteed maximum contract(s) with limited mark-ups at 3.75%

C) We borrowed $10 million, are paying 3.25% interest ($325,000/year, or 4.5 teachers/year), and getting .5% on our deposited funds, all while we had the cash due to MaxTaxing.  Instead, we pay interest.

D) We employed neither a construction manager, nor a commissioning agent, despite the expenditure of 1x annual budget.  There was no consistent risk management policy.  (As it unfortunately happens, no one on the board or in the senior staff has architecture / design / engineering / construction / renovation / commissioning / integration experience.)

E) When the relevant documents (regarding the $18 million) were requested, it took six weeks to produce them, after numerous stall and delay tactics.

F) When FOIAs were used to get some of these documents, D96 deliberately did not comply with the FOIA request.

Email request to Justino Petrarca and Mary Ellen Meindl

February 19, 2013

The Landmark bombshell:

… and here is a simple request, emailed just now:

justin –

1. as a district 96 taxpayer, i ask you straight up:  did you disclose your personal relationship with a district 96 staffer to mary ellen, in her official capacity, in writing ?

in replying, please bear in mind the rules of the Illinois supreme court, article VIII, Illinois rules of professional conduct, rule 1.7: conflict of interest:

(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b), a lawyer shall not represent a client if the representation involves a concurrent conflict of interest. A concurrent conflict of interest exists if:

(1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or

(2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer’s responsibilities to another client, a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer [emphasis added].  see:

2.did you receive from mary ellen, in her official capacity, a D96 waiver indicating informed consent to your continued representation notwithstanding your declared personal relationship and any conflicts that may arise from said relationship ?  [see: rule 1.7 (b)(4).]

please produce these two documents at tonight’s meeting.

thank you.

mary ellen and jon –

under illinois foia, please consider this a request for any and all such notes, memoranda, letters, emails, declarations, waivers, communications, either on paper or in electronic storage, in the possession of riverside district 96, that amount to either attorney justino petrarca’s declaration to you of his personal interest that might give rise to conflicts of interest, or district 96’s waiver indicating informed consent in conformance with rule 1.7 (b)(4):

(b) Notwithstanding the existence of a concurrent conflict of interest under paragraph (a), a lawyer may represent a client if:

(1) the lawyer reasonably believes that the lawyer will be able to provide competent and diligent representation to each affected client;

(2) the representation is not prohibited by law;

(3) the representation does not involve the assertion of a claim by one client against another client represented by the lawyer in the same litigation or other proceeding before a tribunal; and

(4) each affected client gives informed consent. [emphasis added]

thank you.

At least D96 Isn’t Assigning Socialist Flags…

February 4, 2013

The Most Cockamamie Email Ever… About D96

February 1, 2013

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.


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