By Terry Dean
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.