OPRF in search of a new human resources director


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

The District 200 Board of Education on April 16 voted not to renew the contract of Lauren Smith, the high school's assistant superintendent for human resources.

Smith, who was hired in 2010, has been on administrative leave since mid-March. The high school has not said why or if it was a paid leave.

The D200 board's vote not to renew her contract was unanimous. The decision came during a special board meeting that started late last Tuesday but ended at around 2:45 a.m., due to a lengthy executive session. The board took the vote early Wednesday after coming out of closed session.

According to sources close to the matter, the decision not to retain Smith was based on actions by the director that were deemed "embarrassing" but not illegal with respect to her duties.

Smith, who's currently making $144,000, has not been back in the building since going on leave. Smith's contract ends on June 30; OPRF administrators are each on one-year contracts. Supt. Steven Isoye said she will remain on leave through that time. Isoye would not answer or address questions as to whether Smith was let go because of anything she did that was improper.

Smith's duties are currently being performed by Isoye, along with HR department staff. With Smith's departure, the school now has two administrative posts to be filled. The CFO position is open following Cheryl Witham's decision in February to take a position at New Trier Township School District 203. She starts there on July 1, as the school's assistant superintendent for finances and operations.

Isoye said he plans to talk with the firm handling the CFO search about also taking on the search for a new HR director.

Reader Comments

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OP Transplant  

Posted: April 25th, 2013 1:43 PM

The top-heaviness starts at the top. Why does a single building need a principal AND a superintendent? There's a "blank check" mentality that government entities sometimes exhibit that eliminates any incentive to operate more efficiently.


Posted: April 25th, 2013 12:09 PM

In reviewing D200 salaries, it is obvious the district is waaay too top heavy. For example, there are 3 "Student Interventionists", and 2 of them are directors. How do you direct 1/2 a person? And at $110K+, I hope they are effectively "intervening". And I know the students need counselors, but 11 @ over $100K a piece?! I hope the students are putting these services to good use, although I worry that dependent students typically beget dependent adults.

OP Transplant  

Posted: April 25th, 2013 9:40 AM

Given the level of incompetence the district seems comfortable with, it boggles the mind to imagine what administrators would fine "embarrassing". Hard to imagine that Dr. Isoye is able to absorb her duties while still coordinating the administration and operations of the many buildings in the district. Maybe Smith could be kept on, but another administrator could be hired to oversee her? There has to be a more expensive solution than replacing her.


Posted: April 25th, 2013 6:32 AM

Another top administrator getting paid way too much. So much for 'transparency' from the school board. I do not want my hard earned tax money, she makes triple what I do, going for a bad administrators 'on leave' pay. Cut her now if the behavior was deemed "embarrassing", now, no pay, nothing. The new board needs to look very carefully for these replacements. Our community cannot support the high salaries of the administrations. OPRF high school is top heavy already.

Inside the HS  

Posted: April 24th, 2013 11:47 PM

Might have been one of the worse choices for HR in the history of the school. Incompetent and rude administrator who did nothing of value for the teachers or staff. We don't need another HR like that one.


Posted: April 23rd, 2013 3:36 PM

I agree the HR Dept needs a lead, but $170K total compensations to manage a team of 3? And that does not include 19 sick days (school admins should not get paid sick days). Curious as to what the private sector equivalent would be.

Bob from Oak Park  

Posted: April 19th, 2013 10:36 AM

Truthfully, Mike, HR is a department that really does need a senior officer at its head. There are a lot of specialized policies, procedures, and protocols that come with HR, and even more so in a public school district.

Mike Lennox from Oak Park  

Posted: April 18th, 2013 7:10 PM

This is a great time for the Board to look at if this position is necessary or can it be absorbed by others.

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