Mann parents plan to be out in force at D97 board meeting

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The District 97 Board of Education should expect to hear from parents of Mann Elementary School at Tuesday's regular board meeting.

Maggie Kelly, co-president of the school's PTO, said some parents do plan to attend Tuesday's meeting to express support for their principal, Sam LeDeaux.

The buzz around Mann, 921 N. Kenilworth, over the last three weeks has been that LeDeaux's job is on the line and that he's not returning as principal next school year. The rumor mill has partly fueled by LeDeaux's two-day absence from the building. According to D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca, LeDeaux was out sick those two days but returned to the building.

Also fueling the rumor mill is LeDeaux's current contract, which is up at the end of the year. But all D97 principals are on one-year contracts, which are up for annual renewal each spring.  

In a kind of pre-emptive strike, Mann parents have mounted a public campaign in support of LeDeaux, who's been the school's principal since 2012.

Kelly said parents wanted to let the board know directly how LeDeaux is doing as principal. She said he's put of lot of "great things" in place at the school in his two years.

"The kids are happy than they've ever been. He's in the classroom everyday. He's challenging the kids to experiment, to be creative and try new things. And the teachers are encouraged to be creative," Kelly said.

The parents' effort caused D97 officials to respond equally publicly to their concerns. D97 Board President Bob Spatz wrote a letter to parents last week. Along with supporting LeDeaux, who previously served as an assistant principal at Longfellow and Julian Middle School, Kelly said parents were concerned about the district's principal evaluation process. Spatz explained that process in his letter to parents.

D97 Supt. Albert Roberts issued a statement last week saying that no decision has been made about any principal contracts thus far.

Kelly said parents wanted to provide the board with a full picture of LeDeaux's work prior to Roberts' recommendation. That, she said, was important because all principal evaluations are not conducted by the superintendent.

According to the Illinois State Board of Education, a superintendent or his/her designee who is certified can conduct evaluations. Kelly added that Roberts has only been in the Mann building only twice this school year, making it difficult to fully gage LeDeaux's work.

In an email to Wednesday Journal Tuesday, Jasculca said the district doesn't have an exact count of Roberts' visits to Mann, but added that the superintendent has visited the school "numerous times," since the start of the school year.

Roberts has also had "numerous conversations with the two certified, trained district administrators who made multiple visits to the building in conjunction with Mr. LeDeaux's evaluation," Jasculca said, adding that Roberts has also met with LeDeaux throughout the year, including "many times with his evaluators present to discuss his evaluation and issues related to his job."

Jasculca also stressed that "a number of important factors and variables" beyond an evaluation are involved concerning decisions about an individual's employment status.

Kelly said she's unsure how many parents plan to attend Tuesday night's meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the boardroom at district headquarters, 970 Madison.


Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Other OP Mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 4:56 PM

Technology can contribute to that recipe, but it's no shortcut. I won't even discuss "no worksheets."

Other OP Mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 4:55 PM

@MP agree. Tech Nights for Twitter,Pinterest,Facebook?Really?Social media dandy for recreational purposes. However, a distraction to teachers & students rather than a learning tool. Do we really want students to further fragment their thoughts & attn. in this age of incessant digital distraction & stimuli with 140 character blurbs? Strong curriculum,good teaching,& culture that supports students' social, emotional, & intellectual needs are still, in my mind ingredients for excellent education.


Posted: March 19th, 2014 1:59 PM

The old and ineffective model here is one that continues to throw money and shiny technology at elementary problems in a vain attempt to find an easier path for our kids. You want math "hacks" not education-- some magic that will spare your kids the inefficient and frankly hard work of learning. Kids learn math by practice, lots of practice-- both drills and solving lots of word problems. Kids hate it, and teachers hate teaching it, but it works well to help kids master the skills they need.

Mom from OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 1:31 PM

And this is exactly why public education stays stuck in old, ineffective models. Our loss.

My child is special!  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:55 PM

Dude, I don't want my child to learn everybody else's math. My child should be allowed to create his own math! Worksheets just teach you how to accurately solve so-called "math problems". They don't lead to full self-actualization and total consciousness!

Stop the Madness  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:52 PM

I wish WJ would disable these posts.


Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:48 PM

Yeah, that's not how learning math works.


Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:39 PM

Using Twitter allows Mann staff to connect with educators all over the place, which could very well spark a new idea about how to teach something more effectively. And the "no worksheets" thing is a way to break out of rote habits and force teachers to think out of the box--which might absolutely help a kid discover math in a new way. I think both are absolutely relevant!


Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:35 PM

How on earth does twitter and no worksheets help kids learn math? In addition to neglecting kids who can't read and do math at grade level, D97 fails kids (many also low income and of color!) who can do work beyond grade level but are not allowed to skip grades. I am surprised by the lack of challenging instruction for advanced learners, no matter what their race or income.

Mom from OP  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:19 PM

Resigned-actually you just hit the nail on the head! This is exactly why we love Principal LeDeaux-because he is forward thinking! I don't pretend to know what this whole situation is about, but everything I have seen from Mr. LeDeaux (his Tech Nights, use of Twitter, out of office days, no worksheets, etc.) suggests that he is very focused on advancing education and preparing our kids for the complicated future ahead.


Posted: March 19th, 2014 12:07 PM

Know what would be nice? If people got riled up, put ribbons on trees etc. because many D97 students, many of whom are poor and/or of color, cannot read or do math at reading level. Instead, we get a bunch of, broadly generalizing here, wealthy soccer moms and a PTO going to war with D97 over a principal (much like the community passed the referendum due to threats to CAST and BRAVO). Let me know when Oak Park gets serious about doing what it takes to educate our kids in the 21st century. SMH.

J Lerner  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:56 AM

While I am glad the parents had their say last night, I continue to be disappointed that Mr. LeDeaux has remained silent on this matter. If he is the great leader people say he is, and he speaks "the truth," then please step out from behind the shadow of the parents and provide some much needed perspective. To the best of my knowledge, you're not under the same legal obligations as the district. Your continued silence may wind up speaking volumes to the board when they vote.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:51 AM

What's telling is that these "supporters" have made it very difficult for D97 not to fire Mr. LeDeaux, and have, at the same time, given Mr. LeDeaux several Google-searchable "red flags" to interfere with his chances for future administrative jobs. They've put the object of their supposed support in a very difficult position, in order to show up Dr. Roberts and the board. I understand the desire to be right, but not at the cost of a man's career. Let it go, people.

Big Difference  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:50 AM

In the field of education, there is a big difference between "being fired" and "a contract not being renewed." Please be careful on how you write things.

@ Unintended Consequences  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:33 AM

Checkmate! Except both principal & PTO board want to breed hatred for D97 Sup. & Board too. I'm ok with supporting, but give us evidence & facts as to why rather than just opinions. Stop the personal D97 bashing. All the ribbon, signs etc. doesn't change his evaluation and it is certainly not a good look for him either. If he doesn't come back, maybe PTO board members should consider passing the torch to new blood & fresh minds instead of the same old.

Mann Mama  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:01 AM

I was happy to hear there was a great turn-out at the Board meeting last night. :) I personally think Mr. LeDeaux has been wonderful for our school and children and I hope the Board will consider our voices in this!!


Posted: March 19th, 2014 10:31 AM

Look-I believe Mr. LeDeaux is an incredible educator & the right person to lead Mann School. Hundreds of parents & almost all Mann staff agree with this opinion. He has great passion for his field & innovative ideas that D97 leadership is perhaps not digging.Regarding future employment, if he has to exit D97, I will be rooting for him to find a school that gets why he's great and will give him a little space to be creative. Lets hope not all superintendents are so keen on same old, same old.

Unintended Consequences  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 9:17 AM

I think this is turning into a pi**ing contest between a few vocal parents and Dr. Roberts. Mr. LeDeaux is the pawn getting shoved back and forth. With friends like "Supporter", Mr. LeDeaux doesn't need any enemies.

Unintended Consequences  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 9:15 AM

Amazing to me that someone who calls himself a supporter of Mr. LeDeaux would publicly conjecture that he is getting fired because he is unable to get along with the superintendent who hired him. Did it ever occur to you that Mr. LeDeaux may someday want to get another job, and a quick internet search will reveal your conjecture to the next superintendent? School administration is a merry-go-round. People change jobs, unless something happens to prevent them from getting their next job.

@ Supporter  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 11:14 PM

You are, as a Mann parent, a PTO member by definition. And I have expressed my concerns with the PTO leadership, directly. Just expressing my public opinion in the same manner as you. Fair enough, right?


Posted: March 18th, 2014 10:59 PM

You lost me..Not a PTO member, nor do I play one on TV. Just a dad who likes LeDeaux. I accept that you don't. Sorry you feel misrpersented and hope u will take it up directly with the PTO leaders instead of complaining about it on

@Supporter from ....  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 10:41 PM

Yes...I do care. And if you think it's not obvious that you are speaking on behalf of need to check the language. Letter to the school board dated Feb, 28, 2014....."The Horace Mann Elementary School PTO is writing this letter in support of our principal...." As a Mann parent...that includes me, no?


Posted: March 18th, 2014 10:10 PM

I'm speaking for myself and many of my neighbors and friends, obvs not everyone. But really, do you actually care if he's got a political problem with his boss? If I could hasten to guess, you have your OWN issues with Mr. LeDeaux. Which is fine. But many of us think he's been an excellent principal and no, we don't particularly care if he's not in Dr. Roberts' good graces.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 9:39 PM

Like it or not, apparently there are those of us who do "particularly care" and are not interested in being led by the blind. So, please start speaking on your own behalf...rather than the entire Mann community. I would have attended the meeting tonight were it not for the call for the white t-shirt brigade. God forbid I get labeled as "objective."


Posted: March 18th, 2014 8:43 PM

also- what exactly should we have done differently here? Said to ourselves, 'Bummer that this principal we love is getting fired. Oh well.'???? Due to the personal laws we'll never know WHY. We can only trust our guts about Mr. LeDeaux and that's what we've done.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 8:41 PM

I dont buy at all that those are the only options. What if his "crime" is too much head-butting, too many times with Dr. R? That really seems the most likely scenario based on everything I know about Mr. LeDeaux. (I don't believe at all that he did something REALLY BAD or this gossipy community would have heard about it by now.) And frankly-while I can see why Dr. R doesn't like insubordination, I think most parents are v. happy w/ what's happening at Mann and don't particularly care.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 6:06 PM

Couldn't have said it better myself. Also, the fact that he allowed it to become yet another ugly, divisive issue for the Mann Community speaks volumes.

Unintended Consequences  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 5:59 PM

If Mr. LeDeaux's contract is not renewed, it won't be because Dr. Roberts hates him; Dr. Roberts hired him. It won't be because he's too well-liked or too effective, because these are desirable qualities in a leader. It will be because of something his supporters don't know about. I'd always want to know why someone is being fired before I protested his firing. That's just me, though. Either way, the commotion over all of this makes him less effective and less employable in the future.

@ Supporter  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 5:40 PM

you are speaking for ALL Mann parents. NOT ALL Mann parents agree with you or his performance. More importantly, maybe he did something in year 2, that overshadowed his "performance." What if he's not disclosing something to you? - Only assuming because your assuming.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 5:03 PM

So either you can't name the source because you don't know who it was, or you won't name them in order to protect them. There has been a lot of misinformation tossed around here. It only makes sense to question the source and the reliability of information that has been shared.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:59 PM

Status quo is preferable to boat-rocking, apparently.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:54 PM

Actually as has already been discussed in these threads ad infinitum, "insider information" could have come from many places. The point is, thank goodness it got out or this whole thing could have gone unnoticed (likely what Dr. Roberts hoped for), with someone who enjoys tremendous parent&staff support getting canned before anyone got a chance to speak up for him. I'm extremely glad it got out,however it happened.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:45 PM

The fact that you said this came about from "upsetting insider information" is alarming. Since the district administrators are precluded from legally discussing personnel matters such as contract renewals...that would mean the "insider information" came from only one person, Mr. LaDeaux. Which also means you are operating based on one side of the story. That's a dangerous place to be, in my opinion.

Interested Observer from Afar  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:36 PM

Mr. LeDeaux has been allowed very little time to demonstrate his effectiveness. Meanwhile, some longtime principals at underperforming schools plod along year after year. Why?

Unintended Consequences   

Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:27 PM

"e.g., is Dr. Roberts biased against Mr. LeDeaux for some reason?" - This would be difficult to substantiate, given that Mr. LeDeaux was hired by Dr. Roberts.

Ali from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 4:12 PM

@Unintended, it will be truly unfortunate if the Board approaches their decision that way. I believe this is a special case in which there's a glaring discrepancy between how parents/staff view Mr. LeDeaux's performance and the evaluation he's receiving from the District. The Board needs to fully examine what's going on here (e.g., is Dr. Roberts biased against Mr. LeDeaux for some reason?) and determine the best path forward for Mann School, not the best path forward for District politics.

Unintended Consequences   

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:49 PM

The support doesn't all work in Mr. LeDeaux's favor. If he is retained, does that broadcast that Dr. Roberts and the board can be strong-armed by moms with too much time and orange ribbon on their hands? Can the the district administration function effectively if every personnel decision hereafter can be turned into a de facto referendum? I'm wondering if they now have to let the guy go in order to be able to hire and fire in the future without having to placate every parent with an opinion.

Amy from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:32 PM

"a number of important factors and variables" = don't piss off the boss

J Lerner  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:31 PM

@Supporter - You may not have thought that, but there were certainly others who were spreading the rumor that his absence during those days was the result of him being fired or put on leave for the rest of the year.

English Teacher  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:27 PM

Gage should be gauge


Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:25 PM

I would add that the rumor mill was also fueled by some upsetting insider information indicating that Mr LeDeaux would not be recommended for renewal. We parents did not assume the worst simply because the man was gone for a few days.


Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:25 PM

Can't wait for the show down on the mean streets of OP. New headline "Adminstrators armed with pencils and calculators battle soccer moms with water bottles and snacks" Fate of the mankind in balance"!

J Lerner  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:20 PM

I am going to restate what I said under the previous article. While I would never refuse anyone their right to make public comment at an open meeting, we have already heard from parents on both sides of this issue. The person I want to hear from at this point is Mr. LeDeaux. Relax the time limit rules, give him 10 minutes to make his case directly to the people who have the final decision on his status for next year and let's put an end to this once and for all.

Get Your Popcorn from OP  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:18 PM

Queue up another slew of comments from angry Mann parents as well as from non-Mann parents angry about anything to do with Mann.

@Mary P.  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:14 PM

I dunno Mary P., I'm kind of digging the whole Star Wars vibe he's got going. It's unclear which side is supposed to be the Jedi Knights, though.

Mary P from Oak Park  

Posted: March 18th, 2014 3:10 PM

Such bad reporting! This is just bad journalism... preemptive strike?! Please Mr Dean, curb your enthusiasm! Don't set an unnecessary fire on such sensitive and important matters!

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