By Terry Dean
The Oak Park District 97 Board of Education will officially take action on Sam LeDeaux's resignation as Mann principal at around 7:30 p.m. Monday.
The D97 Board of Education has several items on its agenda and executive sessions scheduled for Monday's special meeting, which began at 4 p.m. in the board room of D97 headquarters, 970 Madison.
Just one parent, Nara Schoenberg, showed up to speak during public comments, expressing her disappointment about LeDeaux's resignation. The D97 board adjourned at around 4:15 p.m. and entered into closed session.
The school board will take action on LeDeaux later this evening in open session. The district announced LeDeaux's resignation on Friday in a joint statement with the principal and Supt. Al Roberts. LeDeaux will remain principal through June and help with the transition of the school's new leader. This will be the third principal for Mann in two years.
Schoenberg, who spoke with Wednesday Journal after the board adjourned, said she and other parents feel they weren't truly heard by the board or Roberts. The process overall should have been more transparent, she added.
"This was kind of a last stand--the one lone parent speaking," she said of Monday's meeting. "The broad feeling among parents is that we've lost on this one. We've had a great year and a half with Mr. LeDeaux and are sad to see him leave."
For the second time in two years, Oak Park's Mann Elementary School is in search of a new principal.
Late Friday, District 97 announced that Principal Sam LeDeaux has resigned but will remain the school's principal through the end of the school year. A special meeting had been scheduled for Monday, March 31, concerning LeDeaux's future with the district.
According to a joint statement released Friday by LeDeaux and Supt. Al Roberts, the two administrators admitted they did not always see eye-to-eye on Mann's future.
"During the past few weeks, the two of us have discussed the vision for Mann School. While it is true that we have not been in lockstep on every issue, we have always shared a strong, vested interest in Mann's success and the creation of a productive, nurturing learning environment. … Although progress has been made in this critical endeavor, we have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is best for everyone involved," the statement read.
LeDeaux, 37, had been an assistant principal at both Longfellow Elementary and Julian Middle School before becoming Mann's principal in 2012. He replaced Nimisha Kumar, who resigned that June following a D97 investigation that concluded the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) was inappropriately administered by Mann staff.
The joint statement released Friday acknowledged the school's leadership unrest.
"We realize that change is often unpopular. We also understand and appreciate that having three principals over a two-year time period is not ideal for any school. However, we are firmly committed to working together between now and the end of the school year to ensure that the transition to a new leader is as smooth and seamless as possible."
LeDeaux, according to the statement, will help in that transition.
His resignation is a blow to many Mann parents who over the last three weeks mounted a public campaign to keep LeDeaux as principal. On March 18, about 60 parents attended the District 97 school board to express support for LeDeaux. Many wore "Mann" T-shirts and buttons reading, "We Stand With Sam." Parents also put up a Facebook page in support of LeDeaux.
A native of Evanston, LeDeaux was a Chicago Public Schools teacher before being hired at D97. He applied for the Mann principal post when it became vacant in 2012. Monday's special board meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. at D97 headquarters, 970 Madison, in the board room.
LeDeaux's resignation is expected to be submitted to, and accepted by, the board at that meeting, according to D97 spokesperson Chris Jasculca.
Joint statement from Sam LeDeaux and Superintendent Al Roberts from D97
During the past few weeks, the two of us have discussed the vision for Mann School. While it is true that we have not been in lockstep on every issue, we have always shared a strong, vested interest in Mann's success and the creation of a productive, nurturing learning environment aimed at fostering the growth and development of our students.
Although progress has been made in this critical endeavor, we have come to the conclusion that a change in leadership is best for everyone involved.
We realize that change is often unpopular. We also understand and appreciate that having three principals over a two-year time period is not ideal for any school. However, we are firmly committed to working together between now and the end of the school year to ensure that the transition to a new leader is as smooth and seamless as possible. In addition, we are hopeful that the members of the community will accept the district's invitation to aid in the principal search. Your feedback is both valued and vital to the success of this important process.
With the joint resolution of this matter, we will turn our attention to the remainder of this school year and the work that must be accomplished in the days ahead. We want to thank everyone who has raised questions, offered their insight or expressed their views regarding this important matter. Your steadfast commitment to our schools and the children we serve is a testament to the character and integrity of the citizens of Oak Park.