St. Luke principal announces resignation from River Forest school

Two parents with children at the school believe she was forced to leave

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

The principal of St. Luke Parish School in River Forest announced her resignation this month after more than 20 years, but some believe she was pushed out by hostile parents who verbally attacked her at a meeting in February.

In a March 15 letter to families posted on the school's website, Barbara Rasinski said she will continue her job as principal until June 30, "at which time I will close my door one final time and open a new one." She has been with the school for 23 years, the letter said, and the last three have been difficult because of the illness and subsequent death of her husband.

"It has made me take a step back and look at my life, and I have learned that change is good, for me personally, and for St. Luke," Rasinski said in the letter.

But two parents who could be reached for comment Friday said Rasinski was forced out by other parents who did not believe she was doing enough to stop bullying in one classroom.

The February meeting was scheduled after there were reports of bullying between boys and girls in a seventh-grade classroom. The two parents, who did not want to be named, said it seemed there was a group of girls who continuously tried to get the boys, who made up less than half the class, into trouble. Some parents who attended thought there were students who should be kicked out of the school.

"Everyone just made a big deal about something that goes on in any school in any grade," one of the two parents said. "It was just kids being kids."

There were about a dozen parents at the meeting, and some had harsh words for Rasinski.

"I wish there was more we could've done to be on her side," the parent said.

After the meeting, parents got an email from the school's pastor, Rev. Ken Fischer, saying Rasinski was going to resign.

Attempts to reach Rasinski and Fischer were unsuccessful last week.

Rasinski's letter said a committee has been formed to select a new principal, which will take about two months.

Reader Comments

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Jackie  

Posted: April 1st, 2012 8:46 AM

@Hefner--are you really suggesting that your alumni status and ex-school board membership would trump the principal, pastor and the superintendent of the catholic schools? If you have been so active in St. Giles school activities, where have you been the last 6 years as teachers have left in alarming numbers, and minority students were harassed and asked to leave the school rather than addressing the underlying bullying issues. Calling something BS is different than being a BS'er, sir.

Carol from Chicago  

Posted: March 30th, 2012 10:32 PM

St. Luke seems to have a reputation with asking administrators to leave this year. Whose being bullied the students by students or the staff by staff?

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 8:19 AM

Jackie, Rather then hide behind your post, why not call me as I suggested? I will be happy to hear you out. If what you are saying is in fact true, I will bring the matter to the Saint Giles School Board.

Bill Heineke from River Forest   

Posted: March 27th, 2012 8:09 AM

This is a much more complex story than this coverage indicates. It wasn't a matter of "just kids being kids." The boys involved were acting inappropriately and continued to act so even after being warned. The behavior began at the end of school last year and continued into this school year. If the behavior would have been dealt with decisively at the time, the situation wouldn't have developed as it did. Ms. Rasinski is a great teacher and was devoted to St. Luke.

7th grade girl from River Forest   

Posted: March 26th, 2012 9:40 PM

I think the problems started small and then blew out of proportion. We actually confessed our problems after a club meeting with speech club that inclubed a small group of girls. After everything was done it got better but not finished. I think the worst thing that happened was the lose of one of boys who didn't bully anybody. He was funny, nice and made me laugh so hard sometimes. The day figured out he was gone was a really sad day for the class.

St Luke Grad 2  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 9:31 PM

People are also acting as if she has done nothing against the bullying, she has. I know that a priest at Lukes, a police officer and two youth ministers, one from a neighboring parish. She has given everything to this school and I am sad to see her go. Although I didn't like her all the time, I know everything she did was in our best interest.

St Luke Grad from River Forest  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 9:28 PM

I am recent grad from St Luke school and Mrs.Rasinski was principal for awhile when I was atteding. I was part of a very difficult class and in the 6th grade, my grade also had bullying problems, that Rasinski took care of very well. She made all the girls eat lunch in the science lab and "taught us to be nice to each other" and it worked very well, it wasnt perfect but it was better. My sister is in the 7th grade class at school and I don't know how the problem has esclated so highly.

Robert Zeh from River Forest, Illinois  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 7:50 PM

Mrs. Rasinski has been principal the entire time our two children have been at Saint Luke's --- a combined 9 years. She knows who every kid in the school is, she read to the first graders every week, and the second graders look forward to her Arthur contest every year. I and my children will miss her.

OP Parent  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 2:06 AM

In a lot of cases, parents have A LOT to answer for. Kid's act the way they do because parents allow them to act that way. It's true that "lack of attention" can be a cause of bullying, but bullies are generally the result of getting bullied, by their parents, and or peers, or seeing how their father or mother bully their spouses. It is a form of acting out that functions to mask their own low self esteem. This will not get better, on either side, as parents are not held accountable.

SLSGRAD  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 2:39 PM

In my and my family's time at St. Luke, Mrs. Rasinski was nothing but caring. She fought to stop bullying. However, the parents would not allow their child to be punished. In one in one case a mother didn't take her child to school rather than having her serve her in-school suspension.She had a very difficult job and was in a situation where she couldn't rightfully discipline those children.

Wondering  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:38 PM

I'm not sure bullying is worse today than it was 30 years ago. It's more recognized as a problem but that doesn't mean it's more prevalent. Zero tolerance policies have made it difficult for an individual child to deal with a bully directly. However, I have seen administrators and teachers deal with bullying first hand in ways that are much more effective than when I was in school. Recognition, education, training, and talent matter. It's a serious problem but not one without solutions.

Jack Hughes from Chicago  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:19 PM

When I was at St. Luke's we also had bullies. But, we didn't need the teachers or mommies and daddies to settle anything. Classmates took care of bullies. In the long run, everyone benefitted - particularly the bully!!!

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 2:21 PM

I realize this isn't PC to say, but bullying is a function of what is happening in our society. Kids are raising kids because of lack of parental oversight, parents who want to be pals rather than parents, ?ber competitive parents and several other factors. Not sure those things are reversible, but the effects of these trends are evident in young kids entering the workforce.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 2:17 PM

Bullying happens everywhere, including Catholic schools, however, anecdotally, it has reached epic proportions, especially, and ironically, at Mann. Bullying is a tough situation to deal with but the advantage of a Catholic school is that you can say "I am paying x to come here, get it under control.". Not to say all problems are addressed, but you tend to get heard. I contrast that with stories (again anecdotal) from public school, and the tuition angle isn't there to use as leverage.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:05 PM

Cont... It's not easy to work and build self confidence and self worth into a bully until you have the bully's complete confidence which takes time to earn. I find it difficult that people don't understand how to address bullying and the opposite end, the kid who receives the bullying. I also find it difficult to understand anyone who has gone through school without ever being a bully or a victim of bullying.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:03 PM

Cont... There are many reasons why someone becomes a bully and it isn't recognize in school until it's at a point that the child becomes a serious problem to other students. Home life, learning disabilities left unnoticed, not feeling part of a group, etc., are potential causes. The importance when working with a bully is teaching the bully self confidence and self worth. It's a struggle to work with bullying kids, can it can result in a very positive outcome. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:00 PM

Cont... Bullying is considered a behavioral problem and needs to be handled as such. It requires recognizing bully trends in earlier years of childhood development. It's difficult to change a behavior once it has proven to get solid results, regardless if they a negative results to the person. Teachers aren't taught at pre-school levels how to identify bullying. Once the bullying child gets into grammar school, teachers will also pass that child on to the next grade without intervening. Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:56 PM

Jim Coughlin, obviously that is not the solution and bullying is not a clear cut learnt behavior. A bully in general is a kid who lacks attention and can get it by bullying. Bullying can also be used to take dominance over others. What is learnt is kids finding out as they try out their independence it that other kids will take a step back. If there was a clear cut answer to how to stop bullying, it would have been addressed. Cont...

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:38 PM

Funny and bizarre solution you're offering, Q. It's important to consider that a bully hates to be bullied and bullying is a learned behavior.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:24 PM

Jackie, what's wrong with bullying? Bullying is dominance of a group. It's the natural course of who will lead the herd. It's the primitive instincts of human's. Maybe each teacher can take the bully from their class and send them to the bull pen. Then all of the bully's will be in one pen and they can have at it with each other.

Jackie  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:04 PM

@Mr. Hefner--you may not agree with "Not a Mann Parent", but you, sir, are full of BS. Several students have left St. Giles because of bullying and the acceptance of it. So you clearly do not know the facts.

Dan Hefner from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:24 AM

To "Not a mann parent", Your comment with regards to Saint Giles is total BS. As an alum, and past school board member who has been active with the Saint Giles School program for many years,I know the facts. Feel free to call me to discuss, I am in the book.

Catholic School Parent from OP  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:20 AM

There is a very fine line between "kids will be kids" and "bullying" but some parents seem to have lost all perspective! In the end, schools have to create a safe environment, teach kids that bullying is wrong (and how to handle it if/when it happens to them), and pursue those kids who flagrantly break the rules. My kids go to Catholic school because these things seem to be better managed than in public schools. St. Luke's is a terrific school their principal was well-respected.

not a mann parent   

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:55 AM

Really Christine - You are very naive to think bullying by kids (and it appears their parents) does not take place at St Giles etc. I hope the parents linked to Mrs Rasinski's departure have her replacement identified as their actions may have been a bit short sighted.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:46 AM

I am so saddened to hear about the principal at St. Luke's resignation. I am a parent at Mann School in Oak Park and I am considering moving my children to St. Luke next year as a result of the resignation of Mrs. Kumar the current principal at Mann. I am sorry to hear that the same parent meddling is plaguing the River Forest Catholic schools.

mary kelly from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:05 PM

I wasn't there, but if the parents were bullying the principal, how did the other parents/administration handle it. We all need to learn how to deal with bullies.

OPRFDad  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:14 PM

Tough situation for all. It's too bad that education has come to its current state - the stage mom/dad has spilled into the classroom. The Mann cheating incident and the story above are the flip side of the same coin. People have lost all perspective, and life will end if a kid doesn't have every opportunity, excel at everything and have a great experience along the way.

Maggie from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:29 PM

I agree with Bob. Not a St. Luke member but in a neighboring parish. Good luck in finding a new principal. They are fewer available and you had a great one. Bless her for trying o control children from homes where they were not taught respect for others.

Christine   

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:58 PM

Shame on those bullies! Parents- there are other options in the area- check out St. Vincent's, St. Giles, St. Edmund's and Ascension.

neighbor  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:26 PM

Mrs. Rasinski will be sorely missed by the school's neighbors. She has worked very hard to try to get the parents to be respectful of the neighbors' driveways and to ensure a safe traffic flow during drop-off and pick-up.

Bob from River Forest IL  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:03 PM

20 Years of doing a great job working with kids of all ages. These parents who had words for her should take some time and sit in on those classes. Teachers do have a fine line to walk. In the 60's and early 70's the nuns, sisters or lay teachers would smack you with a ruler. Parents approved and smacked you when you came home. We have turned our kids into little smart a..es. Sad since they are the few and we waist a great persons vocation on them.

password1  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 5:31 PM

So sorry to read this. It's not like she was inflating her student body's ISAT scores which would be cause for resignation and criminal charges.

Parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 4:56 PM

Typical. Parents fighting against bullying by verbally attacking someone else. When will people realize we have to model the behavior we want our kids to demonstrate? It's too bad, I've heard she's a good principal.

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