Keep our principal, say Mann parents to D97 board

60 show up in support for school leader at school board meeting

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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

About 60 Mann Elementary School parents showed up at the Oak Park District 97 school board meeting on March 18, and more than a dozen took the opportunity to speak in support of their principal, Sam LeDeaux.

One after another, parents spoke glowingly and passionately about LeDeaux, who's been principal at Mann for two years. Many credited him for improving the school's morale and culture after the resignation of the former principal, Nimisha Kumar, following a controversy surrounding the improper handling of Illinois Standards Achievement Tests in spring 2012.

LeDeaux was hired in May 2012, approved unanimously by the D97 board.

LeDeaux's contract, along with those of the other seven elementary school principals in the district, is up for renewal this spring. Mann School parents said they want LeDeaux retained.

Many of the people attending Tuesday's board meeting wore white T-shirts emblazoned with the word "Mann." Some also wore buttons and held signs with "We Stand With Sam" on them.

In all, 15 people spoke for nearly an hour. Principal contracts were not discussed by the board that evening. Board President Bob Spatz said the contracts would be discussed in executive session later that evening.

D97 curriculum director leaves for Skokie

District 97's curriculum director, Lisa Schwartz, is leaving the Oak Park school district for similar position in Skokie, D97 announced Wednesday.

Schwartz was hired in 2010 as one of two curriculum coordinators for D97, later taking on the sole role as director of teaching and learning. She'll start her new job in Skokie School District 68 as its assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction on July 1.

In a press statement Wednesday from D97, Schwartz described the Skokie job as a "unique opportunity I could not pass up."

In the same statement, D97 Supt. Al Roberts called Schwartz a valuable member of the D97 team. A search for her replacement will begin soon, Roberts added. He said a review of the teaching and learning department will also take place during this period.

"We anticipate that this search process will include a thorough assessment of our teaching and learning department's existing administrative structure, which will enable us to determine if there are changes we can make to more effectively meet the needs of our families and staff," Roberts said.

CONTACT: tdean@wjinc.com

Reader Comments

63 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

another mom  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 9:19 PM

Thank you OP Res 253...truly made me take pause and a big deep breath.

OP Res 253 from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 3:12 PM

How. About. We. All. Stop. Just Stop. Everything about this situation is wrong and it is. Let. It. Go. Roberts will not take a third contract, the status of this Sam man will be resolved, the seasons will change, you will get older, really important things will happen. In the real world. And snarky messages about things you don't know and can't influence will reveal their true value to the writers and the readers.

Retired Teacher from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 3:12 PM

I spoke with a Mann parent this morning. She is a supporter of Mr. LeDeaux. She said she still remembers, these many years later, her grief when the beloved principal was removed from a school (she still doesn't know the reason). She said the whole school was depressed after that and she can never forget the injury that was done to her. PLEASE, think before removing this beloved principal!!!

Retired Teacher from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 3:09 PM

Based on a number of years I spent as a teacher in District 97, I need to say that, although principals need to follow the policies as set by the school board and implemented by the superintendent, each principal should and does have a certain amount of autonomy for his/her school. This is good because each principal should and does have the right to set the tone and atmosphere for the building. If the present superintendent cannot live with this system, then that's a shame!

A. Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 2:26 PM

How about we get rid of Roberts? He didn't like the previous Brooks principal who was well thought of. After the FastForward debacle, Roberts should be run out of town. I met him a few years ago; impressed me as someone whose mind is with the fairies, i.e. out of touch.

OP dad  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 2:03 PM

@Mann parent? of homeschooled child from Oak Park? Did I miss something here?

Mann  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 1:45 PM

Agreed - hurtful comments directed to the either PTO board or D97 Board/Dr. Roberts are inappropriate. And I will say - some parents have been very good about keeping feedback to the issue at hand in a constructive manner. Sadly, some have not (on both sides).

Mann parent of homeschooled child from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 1:38 PM

If your child goes to Mann please make sure to address your feedback to the PTO and the rest of the community through the appropriate channels; do not hide behind this forum -- I am sure they will be happy to sit down with you and hear your thoughts. It saddens me to think that some of you take your children to Mann and you need to air all of your feedback here without taking responsibility for it and/or doing something about it.

Parent at Mann  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 1:19 PM

@Manuel S- I agree w/you. I'm kind to supporters & non-supporters at Mann. Lots of mean things have been said by both sides. I personally have no problem w/ any of their views in regards to this issue. My kids continue to have play dates with their kids. This doesn't affect my character & I'm no one to judge no matter what they believe. I hope the parents can put this aside & remember that our kids are friends regardless of what we think. Our kids are shaped by us & our great community.

@Mann  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 1:16 PM

I'm confused. Why is it hurtful when the criticism is aimed at the PTO Board but not when the PTO Board aims it at Dr. Roberts and the school board? They could have expressed support for LeDeaux without the public and harsh criticism of the administration. It makes us all look bad.

Thank you for teaching us a valuable lesson!  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 1:02 PM

@What these comments have taught me---That's what you get when you call the press to publish a "heartfelt story" that backfires. Did we not see this coming? Before we take something public, solicit Facebook "likes." We need to think about consequences & research before we proceed with our actions.

Manuel S. from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:59 PM

It's always amazing how easy it is for folks to be less than civil when hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. You are acting like a bunch of teenagers commenting on youtube videos. Please stop. If you were right in front of the person you were arguing with you would not be acting like this. I love this village and its people. I have met nothing but wonderful folks everywhere I go. We are all Oak Park. Please be kind to each other.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:54 PM

@non Mann parent, please hug them for me too. Childcare so that some of us can attend these meetings is the least the PTO should provide for Mann with EXTREME amount of time & loads of MONEY parents contribute "pay some sitters." Instead of spending it on useless ribbons & posters. Unbelievable that my church provides childcare! By the way, I don't need childcare but I think we should be able to provide it to those who need it so that they may attend and have diversity.

What these comments have taught me:  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:48 PM

That a lot of people have some inexplicable ax to grind with their Mann neighbors. Oh wait! I already knew that because y'all did this the last time we had OakPark.com articles written about our school. Moving on ....

Mann  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:32 PM

I can not believe the hurtful things being stated here towards the PTO Board members. All it would take is an agenda posted ahead of time to get more attendees? By all means, communicate that to the board. Same with childcare. Let's try to be civil here. These postings are just hurting others in our community.

Mann Mom from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:28 PM

Don't trust the negative nellies on this site, many of whom have already revealed their anti-Mann bias. Mann parents, staff and teachers have already shown critical mass in supporting Mr. LeDeaux.....not at all a tiny group.

another mom  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:22 PM

Thank you non Mann Parent!!!

non Mann parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:21 PM

Free childcare isn't provided for your PTO meetings??? That's nuts-- how do they expect people to attend? Kinda sounds like they don't. I think I'm going to hug my PTO board the next time I see them. All of them.

@youhavegottobekiddingme  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:20 PM

Why can't you see that the Mann PTO Board did the exact same thing to Dr. Roberts and the school board? Painting a picture that LeDeaux's contract may not get renewed because the administration is "evil and intentionally opaque." Making statements that it's because Dr. Roberts doesn't like him. Complaining that the school board members didn't personally respond to all of the letters they sent. Demanding an audience at Mann and then crying "foul!" when it didn't happen. Come on!!

non Mann Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:15 PM

Some of my best friends are Mann parents. ;-) Of course all are not tone deaf like we've seen here. As an outsider that seems to be the crux of the problem: a tiny group of people who presume to speak for everyone and feel they have the right to make decisions ON A PERSONNEL ISSUE because they've committed "EXTREME" numbers of hours volunteering. Lots of us volunteer, serve on boards, and care deeply about our kids and our community. I hope you guys find a way out of this mess. For the kids.

other OP parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:12 PM

@You have got to be kidding.. I'm not a sh** stirrer. I would gladly attend if they post minutes. This way I can decide if I should take the morning off work or find sitter coverage in the eve., If these issues & minutes are actually presented to us, than I will def attend so that "I" can try and make a change & stir sh** up that way. I don't even know who they are other than by name! Until then they're opaque

OP Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 12:03 PM

@non Mann Parent- I'm a Mann parent NOT a Mann defender. I speak for myself. I completely agree with you as it should be. Unfortunately, our Mann Reps, only have the will & time to communicate about the agendas that matter to a small group. Hey, my kids are very special, but only to ME & my family. If you knew me or them, you could never guess we are a "Mann family" if you are going by bad rep we have. Proud to belong to Mann, but not under current leadership of the administration or parents

You have got to be kidding..  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:56 AM

Look, they SHOULD post the minutes. I have no idea why they haven't. My point was simply that I wouldn't assume it's because they're evil and intentionally opaque. I take a more positive outlook than that. Anyway, it's becoming glaringly obvious that certain individual(s) here have a nasty attitude toward the PTO. If you are actually Mann parents and not just sh*t stirrers, I would suggest attending the PTO meetings and trying to change things that way rather than griping here.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:47 AM

I don't know how the Mann PTO is set up, but a lack of time excuse doesn't appear to be logical. The group appears to have time to do a lot of coordination. So they seem quite capable to create and post agendas and minutes--if it's a priority for them.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:46 AM

@ doesn't Mann PTO have a secretary who volunteered to do the job work & not get paid? If not I suggest you begin your search for someone who is willing to commit to their job (not saying he/she isn't) so that you can become transparent. That is what the position is about, to help the Board communicate. Its a simple task of uploading of these documents. Really, its as easy as 1-2-3. Do not tell me all of this is presented in handwritten format.

non Mann parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:38 AM

(note to Mann defenders-- not all parents are "moms"). How are other PTOs in D97 able to publish minutes, agendas, and budgets and financial statements and you are not? Do you not have a "secretary" on your board? Do no volunteers at Mann possess basic web skills?

OP Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:37 AM

@Violet Aura- As a Mann parent, that is my frustration. I wish we knew or at least tell our Mann PTO reps why, so that parents can decide for themselves if they wish to support him. Other than that, my opinion of him is, he is not seasoned or prepared to be in a position of Principal. He doesn't care either other wise he would address the Mann parents.

@non Mann Mom  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:32 AM

The D97 Board has a paid full-time secretary at their disposal to handle all of those needs. The Mann PTO obviously does not.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:30 AM

I think the standard answer has become, "Dr. Roberts doesn't like him." This is the same Dr. Roberts who hired him.

non Mann parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:30 AM

Could you imagine the outrage if the D97 board refused to publish agendas, minutes, budgets, and financial statements, and then cried "but we're just volunteeeeeeeers! we don't have time!" I guess it's not just the kids at Mann that are more special than the rest of us. What a mess.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:23 AM

@OPTransplant agree. I think PTO jumped the gun on this one. They failed to do a little bit of thinking & research b/f launching this whole mess. I think they're emotional wrecks & don't know a thing about making business decisions. By the way, can any MannPTO member tell us why Mr. LeDeaux contract may not be renewed since he helped fuel all of this? And sorry but "I didn't do anything wrong" doesn't count. Or, "I know him & can assure you he didn't do anything wrong does'nt count either!"

Violet Aura from County of Crook  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:20 AM

Would someone PLEASE tell me what this dewd did to get him axed?! Mann!

Perspective  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:18 AM

"Arguing with anonymous strangers on the Internet is a sucker's game because they almost always turn out to be?"or to be indistinguishable from?"self-righteous sixteen-year-olds possessing infinite amounts of free time." ? Neal Stephenson, Cryptonomicon

@youhavegottobekidding  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:11 AM

And I should add there have been numerous public comments by the PTO Board bashing Dr. Roberts and the school board.

@youhavegottobekidding  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 11:09 AM

The issue is that the PTO Board has generated a lot of nastiness toward Dr. Roberts and the school board (also volunteers with jobs and many other commitments.) There have been numerous public comments by the PTO Board, claiming to represent the entire PTO in their support of LeDeaux. That is misrepresenting the PTO. Period.

You have got to be kidding  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:49 AM

Holy cow, people. It's really sad that a few uber-negative voices here want to turn this into a public shaming of the Mann PTO. If the PTO doesn't have a perfect record of publishing minutes I would have to assume it's because they're volunteers with many other commitments and demands on their time. Not because they're masterminding their takeover of Mann School. Why such nastiness? It's unbecoming.

I volunteer at Mann too  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:44 AM

@non Mann Parent- I wish our school published our minutes & agendas on any of our websites but they probably fear that other "OP PTO's" will snoop or Mann parents may not agree & actually attend. If we are "transparent" parents would have this info. emailed. Parents can opt out of receiving if they choose. I don't know Roberts personally but I think he is a much better person than our principal as of today.

@Really?  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:43 AM

I am a former PTO Board member who has volunteered countless hours over the years. There have been A LOT of negative comments about the D97 Board through this process, so I feel compelled to remind everyone that they are also VOLUNTEERS. So the PTO Board can dish it out, but they can't take it? Seems ironic to me.

OP Transplant  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:36 AM

Please remember that the district is legally prevented from being transparent on personnel issues. The PTO board would certainly be within their rights asking Mr. LeDeaux for information about why his contract may not be renewed, if he wants their support. They can't ask the district.

Mann volunteer  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:30 AM

I don't know but I VOLUNTEER my time with PTO & I don't remember receiving any recognition despite the the EXTREME amount of time I've devoted. I'm not concerned about being on the PTO board, but I do agree with the previous comments about having minutes before hand & after so that parents can make arrangements to attend if they choose. Is that request not a fair one?

non Mann parent  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:22 AM

All PTO board members everywhere are volunteers. Even volunteers have legal responsibilities when they are handling money. Our PTO publishes agendas and minutes to a website. Our PTO meetings are regularly attended by both board members, non board member parents, teachers and staff. Look NOBODY likes Roberts, but it sounds like problems at Mann go beyond his arrogance and incompetence.

Really?  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 10:03 AM

Really? Now we go after the PTO? I know for a fact that folks interested in a T-shirt had to pay for it. Not sure about the ribbons. The folks that VOLUNTEER their time on the PTO deserve recognition for the EXTREME amount of time they devote. All those concerned about transparency should volunteer to be considered for a PTO board position. I don't know of one organization that ever puts out a statement of any type that represents 100% of the members. NOT possible.

another mom  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 9:28 AM

That begs another question, how were the t-shirts and ribbons paid for? Surely they were personally funded and not funded by the PTO.

Transparency? Not!  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 7:03 AM

--ahh! & don't just email it to "like minded" PTO Board & parents. I would like to know when we vote? What our money goes to? How much? Etc.

Transparency? Not!  

Posted: March 20th, 2014 6:59 AM

@--transparency from the district? Why not transparency for Mann parents?Have you ever heard of minutes? Do you post them weeks b/f a meeting for everyone you represent to see? Maybe you would get more parents to attend if they knew the issues before hand. Would you really care to elaborate on the topic of Mann PTO transparency? I don't think you want to go there! --Why not start modeling transparent behavior there & share the minutes for your next April meeting. Here's your chance! Hmmmm..

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:55 PM

That being said... I love the idea of a more open, inclusive process for selecting PTO board members! More outward recruiting than recruiting like-minded friends. And it totally fits with the PTO Board's request for more transparency from the district! A chance to model the desired behavior. Hmmmm...

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:50 PM

Well, that's because almost nobody, outside of the PTO Board members, ever attends the meetings. You are always invited, but others rarely attend. So you miss your chance to have a vote. Don't wait for the crisis to get involved and you might have more of a say.

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:46 PM

@Mann Parent...I do appreciate your attempt to try to better understand how it all works. I wish others were as thoughtful. But sending numerous communications on behalf of the "Mann PTO" is wrong and over-stepping. There is a clear distinction between the Mann PTO and the Mann PTO Board. In this case, it gives the appearance of over representing...which clearly leads to a lack of credibility.

@Mann Parent  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:40 PM

Do you remember voting for Maggie or Wendy? Never in all my years at Mann have I seen anyone run for the PTO Board, made aware of an election for the Board, or invited to cast a vote for the Board. Good for you, you just discovered something else the PTO board does not handle properly. Hopefully with your new revelation the board will notify the Mann community when people can put in an application for a board position, when people can campaign, and make sure we know when we can vote. Thanks.

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:37 PM

The PTO "slate" is voted on, but in my experience has never been contested. And yes, I'm a former board member. It's made up of volunteers...as is the D97 Board. The PTO Board has it's own set of by-laws and legalities it has to follow. Why is it so hard for them to see the same is true for D97? If the PTO Board feels compelled to choose a side, they are no longer representing the entire PTO. Only those who agree with them.

Mann Parent  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 11:00 PM

See Article V - Nominations and Elections. It looks like the next opportunity to vote on PTO officers will be at the June meeting.

Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 10:49 PM

No? We moved here recently so perhaps I am wrong, but that is what their constitution says. I did attempt a little research before commenting. :) http://www.mannpto.org/resources/Mann%20PTO%20Constitution.pdf "The PTO Board shall consist of the elected officials and the school principal."

@Mann Paren  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 10:30 PM

The Mann PTO board is not elected.

Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 9:48 PM

@another mom- I disagree, I think this is painful for a lot of people (please don't forget that the majority of staff truly love their boss) and there's no way it wouldn't be controversial and divisive. Regardless, I'm trying to understand if the PTO has done anything wrong. My conclusion is that as an elected representative body, the PTO Board does have the right to put forth a position on behalf of its members, even if not every member agrees with the position it takes.

This Truth of The Matter  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 6:39 PM

Despite all the comment and controversy, there is one overriding issue that Mr. LeDeaux will never be able to address. Painful as it is, the fact of the matter is that Julius Peppers is going to give Bears fans heartburn this coming fall. Not even Mr. LeDeaux can remedy this situation.

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 6:09 PM

Exactly Mom 2!! It doesn't require a circus to show support.

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 6:07 PM

@Mann Parent...the PTO Board's role is to represent and act on behalf of the PTO (which is the entire school.) By taking a stand, and not remaining neutral, they have created an air of "us against them." It would be one thing for individual members to take a personal stand, as was done with Kumar and the Referendum. I would have no issue with that at all. But they have taken their power way too far in this case.

Mom 2  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 6:01 PM

The principal may be popular, but that doesn't mean he hasn't done something wrong to possibly lose his job. Why are people forgetting this? The principal tells people Dr. R has a problem with him. When asked for specifics the principal doesn't give any information. "Dr. R doesn't like me", and on that everyone is rising to his defense. I believe in the system, and I think LeDeaux is using others to make a scene for him and is giving Dr. R the middle finger. At least Kumar left graciously.

Mann Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 5:44 PM

Honest question- how would you avoid stirring up negativity when (if) you're choosing to not renew a popular principal?

another mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 4:59 PM

That's the whole point. All will be ok, whether LeDeaux remains as principle or not. Our kids' futures are not in jeopardy and they will go on to be productive members of society regardless of who their principle was in grade school. In the mean time, the handling of this situation has stirred up a lot of anger and negativity. D97 did not cause that.

@Mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 4:22 PM

Why the need to paint such a bleak picture? I brought my kids to school at Mann today and things were same as ever- smiling kids and teachers and friendly neighbors. Deep breath..all will be okay!

Mom  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 3:14 PM

Yes, teacher moral improved, and families were beginning to feel better about Mann until this situation came about. Now due to the stance the PTO Board took and the skillful engineering by a principal who used his PTO Board, the school is divided and angry once again. Way to go.

op  

Posted: March 19th, 2014 1:34 PM

alternate headline that did not make in paper "Bespectacled paper pushers battle snarky soccer moms armed only with pencils and regulation book" - Future of MANN kind in balance. No lives were lost...

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