Mann principal decision set for March 31

Special board meeting scheduled to decide LeDeaux's future


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Oak Park District 97 will host a special school board meeting on March 31 to decide Mann Principal Sam LeDeaux's future with the district.

LeDeaux's contract is among the district's eight elementary school principal contracts up for annual renewal this spring. But his contract is the only one that's caused any kind of a stir as many parents at his school have mounted a public campaign to retain him in the face of speculation his job is on the line. A letter concerning the March 31, meeting has been sent to parents from D97 Board President Bob Spatz. 

A time and location for the meeting is still being determined. The board is slated to take action on only LeDeaux's contract at that meeting. 

"The primary impetus for scheduling this meeting is to ensure that we fulfill our obligations to meet procedural deadlines established by the state," Spatz said. "Since we are still in the process of discussing the options that are available regarding Mr. LeDeaux's status for next year, we cannot offer any additional information at this time about the nature of the action that will be presented to the board for a vote that evening."

Spatz also expressed appreciation to parents for voicing their concerns and providing their perspective, adding that the board takes all of the feedback it receives seriously before making any decisions impacting the students.

Spatz and Supt. Al Roberts have stressed that no decision has yet been made concerning LeDeaux's future employment with the district. Yet, many parents from Mann have gone public in their support for LeDeaux. 

About 60 parents attended the D97 board's March 18 meeting, 15 speaking during public comments in support of LeDeaux. They strongly urged the board to retain him as principal once Roberts makes his recommendation.

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.

Many parents at Mann have said they want LeDeaux retained.

Those attending last week'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.

According to Maggie Kelly, co-president of the school's PTO, the parents want to let the board know directly how LeDeaux is doing as principal prior to the superintendent's recommendation. That, she said, is important because not all principal evaluations are conducted by Roberts.

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

According to D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca, while the district doesn't have an exact count of his visits to Mann, Roberts 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 met with LeDeaux and his evaluators "many times throughout the year to discuss his evaluation and issues related to his job."

The superintendent's designees include the directors of special education and curriculum, both of whom are certified, trained evaluators, Jasculca said. 


Reader Comments

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Retired Teacher from Oak Park  

Posted: March 28th, 2014 6:38 PM

From all that I can gather, Superintendent Roberts is an ineffective leader. He's a number reader (test scores) and doesn't understand how to work with professional educators.


Posted: March 28th, 2014 5:47 PM

Sam is resigning as better option than effectively being terminated. This was the only outcome - think from game theory. If they voted no, it was resign or be let go. If they voted yes, would have tought road ahead with board etc - stay or set his own terms and resign. Perhaps people will wake up and realize that OP school are not excellent nor on par with 20 years ago.

Say it aint Soooo  

Posted: March 28th, 2014 5:29 PM

Sam is Resigning. I think its time to evaluate the Supt job in District 97.

Ruth from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 9:45 PM

I'm also not a Mann parent, but I think the distrust goes way back, and nothing makes me think things are different under Roberts. The concerns and input of teachers, parents and/or students are just not taken that seriously. It's a very defensive district that seems to equate criticism of one thing to bashing of everything. I still have nightmares related to Brooks music teacher Edward Bell. Google him if you don't remember.

Mann parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2014 5:11 PM

@ Franze popular principal does not mean he is good for us. I would describe him exactly like --James did in his description of Roberts, except this principal is a narcissist & frankly far from a big boy. When you allow & give a small group of the Mann PTO the ok to speak for hundreds of us is plain wrong. He assumed he was liked by most parents but that isn't the case. We still don't know why some parents should stand by him. He can disclose why his contract may not be renewed & he won't.

Circus act from Oak park   

Posted: March 25th, 2014 4:59 PM

This has turned into a circus & the unfortunate truth is that no one will come out a "winner" because no one has put the kids first. Tshirts, flyers, ribbons, & signs all make for conflict & takes away from the point of school. To educate the future generation. IF parents were concerned about the future of their principal, they could have found a way that protected the children & didn't turn this into a circus. Petitions. Letters, Board Mtgs YES. Ribbons, signs, flyers & T shirts NO.

Franz from Winnetka  

Posted: March 24th, 2014 1:20 PM

I understand the Principal is quite popular and talented. It seems like his boss needs him gone to stay in the big boy's chair. It's all for the kids, right?

James from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2014 10:30 AM

This is unique to Roberts. Specifics: Fast Forward, lack of presence at school functions, general feeling that views are not heard but disregarded, the theft of technology and the further delay of getting those to the students. Ultimately, the person responsible for the loss of funds is the Roberts. I'm sure there is more - this is what I have heard most.


Posted: March 24th, 2014 6:59 AM

Is this a long-standing distrust going back to Fagan and Collins, or unique to Roberts? What things has the admin done to bring on this distrust? Just wondering since we have no kids in school.

Parent from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2014 5:14 PM

James, I'm also not a Mann parent but I agree with you. There is a distrust of district leadership and the superintendent in Oak Park. It's a reputation they've built through their own words and actions and it extends across the schools in District 97. It will be interesting to see how this is handled.

James from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2014 11:37 AM

I am not a Mann parent. But I've been listening to community members concerns about the Mann principal. I do hope the school board realizes there is a general distrust of district leadership n our school system. My peers, from school to school don't, at this point, trust that the superintendent makes decisions based solely for the benefit of our children.

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