Mann principal search will begin in April

Administrator steps down because of 'irregularities' in state test handling by staff


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By Terry Dean

Staff reporter

Click here to read the statement from District 97.

The search for the next principal at Mann Elementary School will begin next week.

Oak Park Elementary School District 97 is on spring break this week, and Supt. Albert Roberts said he'll begin the search process for a new principal after the break. Last week, Principal Nimisha Kumar resigned her position at Mann after an internal investigation by D97 found that this month's state standardized tests were inappropriately administered by staff.

Kumar, however, will stay on through June 30. While the district is pursuing disciplinary procedures against the staff members involved, Roberts insists the violations resulted in a "lapse in judgment" and was not done intentionally for unfair advantage. The investigation, which Roberts led, found several violations, including tampering with testing materials while administering the Illinois Standards Achievement Test.

The ISATs were given the second week of March and are taken each spring by elementary students in grades 3-8.

The violations include staff members giving students extra time to answer questions that they may have missed or skipped for reasons such as pages being stuck together. Other violations involved staff members reviewing test booklets and answer documents for stray marks and missing answers after students turned them in, as well as staff members themselves erasing stray marks from those documents.

Kumar submitted her resignation to the D97 school board on March 22, following the district's investigation. She's been the principal at Mann, 921 N. Kenilworth, since 2006 and was interim principal the year before that. The district sent their findings to the Illinois State Board of Education, which is now investigating the matter.

The violations, Roberts said, involved only a handful of staff and about 20 third- and fourth-graders.

Mary Fergus, a spokesperson with ISBE, said the state agency reviews such cases to determine if the test scores affected should be invalidated, and if staff involved in any irregularities should be disciplined, which could result in their certificate being suspended or revoked. Fergus said the agency investigates testing irregularities every year in school districts across the state; such reviews usually take a month or two.

As to whether Mann's ISAT results would be ruled invalid, Roberts said that decision rests with the state board, and he anticipates hearing from ISBE sometime in May.

Anonymous 'whistleblower' at school

An anonymous teacher at Mann alerted the Oak Park Teacher's Association about the possible violations, according to Roberts. He said the teacher was concerned about how the tests were handled. The president of the OPTA contacted a district administrator, who then alerted Roberts. Roberts and the administrator then went to the school to interview staff and found that the tests were mishandled.

After the irregularities were discovered, Kumar decided to submit her resignation to the D97 board, according to Roberts. No other violations were found at any other district school, he said. Kumar released a statement via D97 last Friday afternoon addressing her tenure at Mann but not the alleged violations.

"There is still much to be done prior to the end of the school year, and I look forward to continuing the important work we do each and every day here at Mann," she said.

Roberts stressed that the violations were found not to be committed in malice or "to give our students some kind of unfair advantage on state tests."

Concerning reaction at Mann to Kumar's resignation, Roberts said there's some disappointment, and he's also heard good things about Kumar's tenure. Wednesday Journal contacted parents last Friday, who were surprised by Kumar's departure.

"I am stunned and very sad to hear the news of Mrs. Kumar's resignation," said Judy Larscheid, a parent and PTO volunteer, via an email to the Journal. "Mrs. Kumar is a wonderful asset to Mann School and our community. I hope there is a way for her to stay; otherwise, it will be a big loss for our children and families.

Parent Mary Joyce echoed Larscheid's comments.

"I, too, am stunned about the developments today," Joyce said via email last Friday.

Staff could face discipline action by early April

Concerning the possibility of Mann staff members being terminated, Roberts, who spoke to Wednesday Journal on Monday, said he couldn't comment on that "right now."

Peter Barber, president of the D97 school board, said the superintendent will present a recommendation to the board on April 10 concerning possible discipline actions for the staff members involved. The board held a special meeting last Thursday to accept Kumar's resignation. Barber said it was her decision to resign. She was not present at the evening meeting, which began shortly after 5 p.m. and lasted roughly a half hour. The board voted 6-0 to accept her resignation. Board member Jim O'Connor was not present.

The board was alerted to the testing irregularities two weeks ago, Barber said. In his six years as a D97 parent, Barber can't recall any such issue involving the ISATs before.

"It's difficult to hear about this happening at any of our schools," he said. "We always hope and expect all of our staff to follow the rules on things like the ISAT tests, so it's difficult to hear that this didn't happen at any of our schools, Mann or otherwise," Barber said. "But with this situation behind us, we can expect that the rest of our staff will be diligent in following the rules when it comes to testing or other rules."

  Statement from District 97

Reader Comments

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Comment Policy

Concerned parent  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 9:14 PM

The whistle blower and District 97 made the right call, no question. ISAT testing procedures necessarily follow a zero-tolerance policy on cheating. And giving non-IPE students extra time, giving tests back so students can fill in missed answers, and erasing "stray" marks IS cheating. Also consider the blow to the school and district reputation had the district not acted swiftly to dismiss the principal and news of a state investigation became public before the district took action.


Posted: March 27th, 2012 8:39 PM

If the teacher at Mann was truly concerned for the kids at Mann she should not have gone any further than the principal. Everyone in the business world knows that it is very disrespectful to go over your bosses head and few are ready to deal with the consequences. I wonder if she feels the need to help the school replace the principal that she blew the whistle on.

Dooper 58 from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 3:02 PM

N vs S...your comments are ridiculous. Each school has it's share of classmates "not like themselves" whatever that means. Kids who grow up in this town interact plenty with those of different ethnic/econ backgrounds through sports/camps, etc. The benefits of having grade 6-8 in the same school w/K-5 far outweigh "blending" and the failed concept of middle school. As a product of OP private schools who blended constantly w/my public school peers, the mix of "partiers" was dead even.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 2:37 PM

Guess this is why the Mann kids are so "smart".

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 2:36 PM

Guess this is why the Mann are so "smart".

Has Taken the Time  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 2:28 PM

I am a Mann parent and have made the effort to know what Kumar and the rest of our staff/teachers do for our students. They are all so dedicated. I hope that others in D97 schools see this in their school also. Kumar did not sit around counting her money, but has spent an amazing amount of time moving this school(and district)forward in many ways. Something wrong occurred during the testing, but let her leave with the pride in the many positive things she has done.


Posted: March 27th, 2012 2:12 PM

@Grow Up You meant you're not your. Must be the spring break brain drain.

N vs S  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 1:14 PM

Introducing other classmates not like themselves is a good thing prior to high school. The sec 8 kids get to see the rich kids and vice versa. Blending should happen before high school. Keep the middle schools. Its kinda ironic that when I went to high school, the biggest "partier's" were the kids that attended catholic school from K-8. Not a coincidence.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 27th, 2012 10:22 AM

Go from K to 6 for grammar school, 7 to 9 for junior high school and 10 to 12 for high school.


Posted: March 27th, 2012 8:34 AM

@Candidate - now you are talking. How do we restore OP education to its status of 25 years ago (as opposed to what it has become today)? A start: get rid of the middle schools and go back to K-8. The middle school experiment, for whatever reason, has not worked.

Grow Up  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 10:48 PM

Enjoy spring break -- your acting like school children.

OP parent  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 10:29 PM

Apparently OP Board Candidate has a lot that us ordinary folks don't have . . . inside information on the school AND the ability to delete his/her posts. Once again I advocate for transperancy. If it's ok for OP Board Candidate to get the details then it should be okay for all of us. Or, if this person has access to information that is supposed to be confidential, then they should keep it confidential.

A District 97 Parent  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 10:12 PM

@How Ironic My point is a broad, sweeping generalization that there's correlation between socioeconomic status and academic success and how this population clusters in higher priced real estate. Of course there are exceptions. That's all, no insinuations, inferences. Let's stop this insanity now.

Gertrude from Oak Park  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 9:08 PM

Still I Rise You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I'll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? 'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I'll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops. Weakened by my soulf

N vs S  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 7:38 PM

How can OP Board Candidate delete their comments? I am thinking they are a WJ person.

N vs S  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 7:37 PM

I never claimed I was better than anyone else. I just said Mann had the best test scores of any other grammar school in Dist 97. They have for some time. I referenced the socioeconomic factors that give credence to this.

OP Board Candidate  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 7:05 PM

The other issue is "what is the board strategy/ roberts" to drive excellence (not scores) within OP. I grew up in OP 25 years ago and OPRF was ranked 12th in the state. ... when you said OPRF it carried a lot of heft.. it starts in grammar schools. Today Read the website which list the strategy - it is a joke. No real subtance etc.

OP Board Candidate  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:51 PM

there is good and bad in all sides of this town. We all want the best for all children and most others as well. The issue here is how do we move forward at Mann, Julian and Brooks. how will the Board /Roberts move this forward. So go ahead an be flippin idiots - i want no part of it

OP Board Candidate  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:48 PM

All - I deleted the posts as it is obvious people really do not want a honest discussion as well as lack the ability to move beyond their own issues (i.e. N v. S). I once asked my mentor why he is so discrete and rarely discusses issues - he said why burden people's minds with issues a) they don't/can't understand or b) won't refuse to consider. This back and forth over Mann, income, race etc. is absurd. Oak Park is a SPECIAL place where people accept each other. Mann parents (as all OP

How Ironic  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:41 PM

A District 97 Parent, Cont. those values. I'm not talking about section 8, but the vast spectrum that ranges from "working class" all the way up to the entitled.

How Ironic  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:39 PM

A District 97 Parent, your comments were obviously contextualized within the conversation, so if you weren't talking about the Mann district, you should have been more clear, as your post insinuates that you were talking about Mann students as somehow better prepared educationally in comparison to the rest for OP. I would agree that people brought up with parents that value education are better off, but a lot of people that have a lot less money that parents from places like Mann share...


Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:10 PM

Unfortunately, you are 100 percent correct. The post from OP Board Candidate have been deleted. I thought that this was a forum for people who wanted to have a discussion, why the censorship? Truth hurts?

A District 97 Parent  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:08 PM

@Q from Oak Park: you've read into my post, made it personal. Nowhere does it say I live in Mann area or even Oak Park! In fact, I don't. I stated observations about who can afford housing in nw O.P. and yes Lake Forest, Winnetka (see earlier post re: Westport, CT. La Jolla Ca. Westchester County, NY.) You have to be able to afford the real estate in these communities which means you have a high paying job which usually require higher ed. and smarts (or success in the arts, sports et al).

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 6:02 PM

The problems at Mann are not racial by and large. The MAJOR problem is the unrealistic parents. Let me ask this question: what part of OP has the largest concentration of families with upside down house payments? My guess, the delusional NW. Thats why they act so crazy with regards to their children- Most NW parents live in a fantasy world. BTW I live in NW so I KNOW!!!!!!


Posted: March 26th, 2012 5:48 PM

The 5:27 post addressing my comments has merit. But I noticed that NO Mann parents disowned the comments from N vs S (at least 5) or Realtor or, wait a minute, the comments from the Mann parent who identified himself as OP Board Member are gone?!? But, if you are unaware, the "superiority gene" of many Mann parents has been around a long, long time - and was reflected by many posters on this thread. Just as I would point them out in person - I do so online. Cheers!


Posted: March 26th, 2012 5:27 PM

I might add that the Mann parents who you say are "raving" about their school and children are merely defending themselves against other community members such as yourself who want to continue to insult them and their kids and relish in the unfortunate situation that has occurred. (which they were not responsible for!) Would you really want to have others in OP attacking your school community if you had something bad happen there? Last I heard, you all want $ from us for your playground....


Posted: March 26th, 2012 5:11 PM

Not too surprised. The principal was not very honest with me when I applied for a position at Mann.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 5:00 PM

It is really interesting to me that you keep referring to the Mann community as Mannbots. This could appear to be mean,overgeneralizing, and said with hurtful intent. Not to mention, closed minded. I'm sure that this is not your intent, however. Yet, if someone from NWOP made up a rude and condescending name for your home school, which I won't do but can think of a couple good ones, perhaps they would be snobs, elitists, etc. Do you really think that you are not as bad as who you are insulting?!


Posted: March 26th, 2012 4:47 PM

@MannDad. You are ignoring the comments from N v S and other Mann parents who are RAVING about how superior they (and their children!) and Mann school are! I and others, repulsed by these idiocies, are pointing it out - with some dramatic flair. But do you question the Mannbots and THEIR comments of superiority (hiding behind a racist veil)? Nope. You call myself and others bigots!?! Which suggests to me that you are another one of those "Mannbots!" True? BTW, I live south and east - scary!

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 4:40 PM

And the Mann district shortcoming of economic diversity isn't the only issue you'll encounter and it'll be your least worrisome. It's the social diversity that will be the most difficult barrier. This isn't where "The Gap" begins, but this is where it becomes more obvious. And as teachers spend more time on those behind, those at break-even and those who are ahead get less and less attention. That becomes the biggest frustration.

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 4:22 PM

I don't know much about the issues leading to her resignation, but based on her sidebar Principal Nimisha Kumar is a class act. I wish her good luck in her career.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 4:18 PM

"However, the middle schools don't provide the rude awakening that some commentators on this board have suggested; rather, they give a welcome and valuable fullness." I'm guessing that you don't have any kids at Julian. And when you do, ask them if "welcome" and "valuable fullness" come to mind when they describe their experience. And I don't think your experience as a parent will bring those two words to mind either.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 4:05 PM

One of the Mann district's shortcomings is its lack of economic diversity. However, the middle schools don't provide the rude awakening that some commentators on this board have suggested; rather, they give a welcome and valuable fullness. What bigotry! As if people from big houses and small apartments, with attorney moms and truck driver dads can't share this community. I'd be most people whereever they now live have complex backgrounds and experiences -- north, south, east, or west.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 3:53 PM

District 97 Parent, if you had any money, you would not be living in Oak Park. Have you been to Lake Forest, Winneka, etc.. That's where the money is. You have pocket change compared to those areas. You kids are lacking in educational opportunities compared to those kids. The problem with believing you have more than others, is there are a lot more others who have more than you. It's a bitch I know it, but you may as well get us to it if you want to live in reality.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 3:26 PM

I always knew that the Mannbots (translated: many, but not all Mann families) were both insecure and self-important, but, wow, I had no idea that it was at this level!?! Last I checked the Mann district didn't include the FLW area - or the Gunderson area and so many more top-notch sections of OP. HOWEVER, it does have the least amt of apts/sec 8 kids - which means that their kids get quite an "education" when they go to Julian and OPRF and discover that their "world" is very small and unreal.

District 97 Parent  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 1:25 PM

@How Ironic, read carefully, did I say that highly intelligent, educated parents of means with kids are ONLY in NW Oak Park? No. My point: there are affluent pockets nationwide where only the monetarily successful can afford to live which typically means smart, educated, go-getters or trust fund babies born to priveledge. The Help live elsewhere (few rentals, section 8 subsidies). There are exceptions of course. See 3RS post.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 1:18 PM

I can assure you that no Mann parent would want any cheating or unfair advantage given to their children for the ISATs or any other test. The parents that I know at Mann have all worked hard to get where they are(just like you)and are trying to raise children in a tough world. No Mann parents wanted this-trust me! We all just want our kids to work hard and learn, just like the rest of OP families.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 1:16 PM

My guess is there are not alot of WJ admin/staffers that reside in the Mann school district.

N vs S  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 1:14 PM

Maybe we can look up the AP students in Dist 97 and see where the largest concentration is. Maybe we could look at the valedictorians at OPRF HS and see where they come from?


Posted: March 26th, 2012 1:10 PM

For those of you who are so readily critizing Mann parents and their children, know that these are upstanding members of this community. They include volunteers for Hepzipah, Parenthesis, OPEdFoundation, VOPcommissioners, youth sports,Park District,the list goes on. There is an amazing community service group founded from Mann parents. The creator of MomMail has kids at Mann. Before you judge people because of the location of their home, know who you are talking about! These are good families.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 12:04 PM

Good point Done & Top - OP education pretty much becomes a wasteland once kids get to middle school. But hey, kids' morals and self-esteem are well formed by then, so who cares if it is a caustic environment. A solid primary education, and the world is their oyster.

Done from Oak Park  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 11:45 AM

"Let's not forget, fellow commentors, there is a cure for the Mann school elitist attitudes and sense of entitlement the kids/parents express ad's called Julian!!!!!" Spot on, Top O'.

OP Young Dad  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 10:14 AM

This message board defines schadenfreude. Unfortunately, many people here have been brainwashed into thinking test scores = education, and vice versa. I could care less about giving some students extra time to double-check answers. Limiting the amount of time one can use on a test only means those skilled at test-taking do best. Yet rules are rules, and perhaps the right conclusion was made here in the short-term. But this is not the major scandal many of you are making it out to be.


Posted: March 26th, 2012 7:02 AM

We bought in the Mann district and wish we hadn't. Our kids are in the way of the other children who are on their way to an Ivy League school or destined for stardom. It's obnoxious. By the way, there are plenty of qualified principal candidates with the appropriate credentials to lead. Some are teaching in the district already and would be great. You have to get them past the teacher's at Mann, that's the big hurdle. Kumar obviously crossed one of them, and note the results.

How Ironic  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 12:45 AM

A District 97 Parent, Just because some people in the Mann district have found a way to rake in enough dough to live there is really a meaningless general comparison to other families in Oak Park regarding the education of their respective children. I know of a number of highly educated families in Oak Park who had the means to buy in the Mann district when considering Oak Park and schools, and made the conscious decision to live in another part of OP. Stop deluding yourself!

How Ironic  

Posted: March 26th, 2012 12:38 AM

A District 97 Parent, give me a break! Being able to afford to live in north west Oak Park doesn't mean kids in the area are automatically smarter, better equipped, come from more educationally superior or supportive families. There are countless families ALL over Oak Park who are highly educated with professional and academic professions, and others who hare equally, if not more educationally supportive to their children. Cont.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:47 PM

She probably resigned before they fired her.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:26 PM

Cont... I know that none of us will leave home without our cell phones because we need to be connected. That connection is the umbilical cord to a false security. Depend less on technology and get to board meetings and make a difference in what you believe. Nothing replaces face to face.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:23 PM

Cont... To wrap this rant up, we are all entertaining and engaging with each other with no real purpose because that is what we do now. Notice kids waking with each other. They are talking, they are on their phones. Go to the movies, and notice how many people are playing with their phones when the movie is on. This is nothing more than simple entertainment and we have put ourselves backwards because very good advertising campaigns have convinced us all that we have useful technology to use.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:20 PM

Cont... Computers are great for storing information, but put them onto the internet, and regardless of what security software you have, you can be hacked. Computers are great for computing problems. Next time you are out, take a walk down a busy street and notice how many people are driving and entertaining themselves by texting or checking their cell phones. We all use computers and cell phones as a device to entertain or distract us. We don't utilize so called technology to benefit us. Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:17 PM

Cont... all should be to say what we think about things. We are also convinced we don't have time to say them were they would really make a difference. It takes many people to make a change when going to a board meeting, regardless what board is meeting. You can't get change alone. I don't think anyone really recalls the benefits the computer was going to bring us. It was the benefit of doctors exchanging illnesses across the globe and finding a doctor who knows the cure. Cont..

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:15 PM

OP Parent, there is an old saying, "Don't air your dirty laundry in public". Facebook, Youtube, paying bills on line, watching movies on cell phones, etc., convince everyone that those are things people want. Those very devices are what has caused a collapse in personal privacy. We are all on a computer exchanging useless opinions and wasting our times because we don't know what to do with our time, although people have kids, homes, etc., to attend to, but we are convinced this is where we Cont.

OP parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:58 PM

The district recently sucked a lot more tax dollars out of all of us - in part to pay for what you call "techno gizmo's" So they should make some use of those $$. Every kid in town knows how to post a utube video. Its not too much to ask the board to use technology we've paid for through public dollars to increase access to public meetings.

OPRF Student  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:54 PM

Mann will survive. It always has. The teachers rock at Mann. I am not sure about this principal, but the next one will have to live up to some big expectations. I have all the faith in the world. Its Mann damn it. We are Mustangs!

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:53 PM

Jack S, it's terrible the techniques the board uses when forcing someone to resign. They stare you down, or they don't respond to you. It's awful, just awful. You can't blame Kumar for giving in.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:51 PM

OP parent, manage your time better if you want to attend board meetings. All of these techno gizmo's makes time management much easier than before.

OP parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:46 PM

If you think the abbreviated document called "board minutes" really communicates all of what goes on at a board meeting then you've never been to one. Many people would like to follow the board more closely but little things (like children and jobs) get in the way. Again, put the meetings on cable or use today's technology to record and post a video on the district website so people can have greater access. It could be done. If they wanted to.

M Carson  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:30 PM

OP Parent - They are called board minutes. Peruse them at your leisure -

Jack S  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:27 PM

Another question - If Ms. Kumar truly did nothing wrong, then why did she resign or allow the district to force her to resign? I assume she had plenty of other options, including making them fire her or taking legal action against the district. Instead, we got a statement from her talking about how much she enjoyed her time at Mann and celebrating what the school accomplished during her tenure. If you are being wrongly accused, stand up and fight.

OP parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:23 PM

Many people who don't go to the village board mtgs know exactly what happened at them - because they watch them on cable. Unfortunately the same is not possible for D97 board mtgs. Maybe Mann can lead the way in digital technology for the district and make that happen. Transparency would answer a lot of the questions raised - but then the public might not be so happy about our "best of all worlds" school district. BTW there has never been a dearth of candidates for principal positions in OP.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:19 PM

John Perryman maybe before you attribute comments to someone you should check your facts. Please give your mutual friend a call at 3129536104.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:19 PM

If I wore a hat, I would toss it in the ring to be Principal. How hard can it be? It's managing people and not cheating.

M Carson  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:12 PM

Another Mann Parent - Were you happy with the performance by Ms. Kumar? If so, don't assume an interim won't be qualified to lead the school.

Jack S  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:11 PM

OP Board Candidate - You seem to be "in the know." Did you read the report submitted to the state? Or, did you get your information from Ms. Kumar and Mann staff? It would be nice to know the basis for your knowledge about the situation.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:09 PM

M Carson. Mrs. Kumar was the second interim principal for Mann. A couple of years passed with Carol Young serving as interim principal and she refused to take the job. In year three of the vacancy Mrs. Kumar was hired. Doesn't look like principals are so easy to find. The principal before Young quit.

M Carson  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:08 PM

Also, this isn't about stray marks or giving a kid a few extra seconds to complete a test. This is about violating the rules and regulations established by the ISBE for administering the test. Do many of us think the importance of the ISAT is overstated and overblown? Probably. However, until the ISAT is sunset, every district must abide by the standards set by the state. Plus, it is clearly serious enough that a rep from ISBE was quoted n Triblocal saying people could lose their certificates.

M Carson  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:02 PM

I had heard from people in the Mann community that Mr. Bell had sought the open seat for the board so I would be interested in hearing if anyone else from that school community applied. Of course, it is public knowledge so I guess we can simply ask the district and find out. As for those who are bemoaning the thought of an interim principal, perhaps they should access the link on Mr. Dean's article about Ms. Kumar being named the principal full-time after serving as an interim for a year.

John Perryman from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:02 PM

@Another Mann Parent, no, while I do regularly attend Board meetings, I didn't attend on the 22nd. But I also don't have any issues with how the Board has handled this situation (at least given what we know so far). My point is that there are what, maybe 40 or 50 posters on this story? that would about 10 times the number of non-D97 staff that attend most Board meetings. Put the energy into communicating to the actual decision makers, the Board and Admin.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:58 PM

OP Board Candidate is a male unless there are females with big hairy thumbs typing.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:56 PM

Top O' Food Chain, Q knows from history about drinking the Kool Aid and also cheaters who get caught try to deny it. You are on top of the food chain for Carp. You do know they eat the crap that rests at the bottom of the Ocean.

John Perryman from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:55 PM

My mistake. I was just confused by the pseudonym stating you are a candidate for the Board. I was just assuming that if you are publicly proclaiming you are a Board candidate, along with your strong opinions, you might be willing to also tell us who you are. Just seems odd to talk about becoming an elected official, give us your position on everything, but not being willing to tell us who you are. Chris, apologize if this isn't you.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:48 PM

John Perryman from Oak Park, I would have loved to attend the Board Meeting on March 22nd. Where you there?

John Perryman from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:35 PM

As Scott McMillan notes, most of these comments are an embarrassment to Oak Park. If people care enough, show up at a Board meeting and contribute something constructive to this issue. Posting comments on this site won't bring any real change. As for the poster "OP Board Candidate", PLEASE tell us your real name (Chris Bell maybe) so I can be sure to never vote for you if you really do decide to run for D97 Board.

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:14 PM

....then after that.....Smoke Park/Refer Forest HIGH school!!!!


Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:12 PM

This principal was reported by her own staff. Sincerely doubt that the resignation was not without due cause. As amusing as the infighting is, it's time to shut down the comment section.

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:11 PM

Let's not forget, fellow commentors, there is a cure for the Mann school elitist attitudes and sense of entitlement the kids/parents express ad's called Julian!!!!! That will be their first taste of the REAL WORLD!!!! LMFAO

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:03 PM

...and Please stop should, well, PLEASE STOP!!!! Your comments are pointless.

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:01 PM

Q is drinking the Kool-Aid. Try to fill OP first? Why!!!! You are a prime example of what is wrong with the OP mindset!!!!

Please stop  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:56 PM

Mrs. Kumar was paid a 3 figure salary. They are volunteering. The board has nothing to gain with this decision. Only the onslaught of criticism from people like you.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:37 PM

Another Mann Parent, it may be so that there are 100 positions to be filled, but this is Oak Park, so they will first try here.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:36 PM

MannDad, thank you for correcting me. I have a bit of a learning disability and really appreciate being corrected and I also like when this posting system catches a misspelled word.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:24 PM

Maybe this a reap what you see situation. The animosity at Mann administrators and parents comes from somewhere. And I've heard that beyond standardized test scores, Mann's not that great a school. Bullying is a clear problem, especially among girls. Homework is excessive because class time is spent disciplining kids. Leadership is totalitarian and political, etc. Mann doesn't strike me as good so much as a place where the weak minded like it because they are supposed to.

Please stop  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:22 PM

Our board members volunteer hundreds of hours of their time...for our kids. Most of them have kids in the district. Let's give them the benefit of the doubt for now...they have far more information than we do at this point.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:16 PM

I agree with you MannDad the board seems to have over reacted. There are currently over 100 available principal positions in Illinois alone. I don't know how the board can find an adequate replacement for 3 elementary schools. Interim is not satisfactory for the taxes that we pay.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 6:43 PM

Glass house, Q. "Her" is the possessive, not "her's." I agree with Please Stop. Please Stop. I'd like to hear more from Dr. Roberts -- right now there seems to be a panicked overreaction from D97. Did Kumar poorly train her staff on procedures? Did she erase stray marks? There seems to be a difference, and if the former results in a school without senior administration and with possibly talented teachers forced out, then that doesn't seem right.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:48 PM

Jamison from Oak Park, as long as you aren't teaching comprehension, you aren't hurting your students because you can't comprehend the story.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:46 PM

Another Mann Parent, I know your little darling is due a Principal, and you and your child will be giving a competent Principal, but don't rush the board otherwise you may be considered a pushy parent without any regard to other people's little darlings.

Please stop  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:46 PM

ProCommunity...Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:44 PM

ProCommunity, if kids and family are hurt by what is taking place, this is a good time to teach their kids about cheating and about people's personalities that people can be really nice and have faults, and when a person holds a position of authority, that person has to take responsibility when something is done against the rules.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:42 PM

MannDad, JB makes a good point that OP Board Candidate would hold more credibility if he/she would have taken the time to correctly spell. OP Board Candidate also tried out for the board but didn't make it. Maybe it was his or her's spelling.

Jamison from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:21 PM

I haven't read the preceding 149 comments. Have no children in the OP school system -- but I teach. It sounds like staff members had a humane helpful response to children who needed extra assistance. Now someone is resigning. This fetish with testing is ruining lives. I teach older students who expect to be told what to do and are lost if I tell them to figure it out themselves. This is not the way to educate a citizenry.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 5:05 PM

I agree that the students at Mann need our support. I also know that there were several Mann parents who were abosolutely nasty to Mrs. Kumar on numerous occasions. These parents have pushed to have her removed in the past because she did not cater to their wishes. Now we do not have a principal and you owe my child one. This action was taken by the board without a plan B. Face it, if you don't have a plan B you don't have a plan.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 4:48 PM

Why are there so many unkind and hurtful comments towards Mann students and parents. They did NOTHING wrong here. I'm guessing that they feel awful about this. There should not be anybody happy about this situation, even parents at competing schools. This community should be reaching out with support, instead of trying to throw salt in their wounds. Be careful what you say, it could be also happening at the other OP schools. Have empathy for these families and students who are hurt by this.

Scott McMillan from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 3:55 PM

With the exception of a couple of cogent, well thought out comments, the majority of the comments below are nothing more than a bunch of blowhards out to, for some reason, prove how smart, witty or well-connected they are. Most of what appears below is neither intelligent, insightful or witty. Rather, they an absolute embarrassment to our community. This should not be a discussion about N v. S or Mann v. the rest of the elementary schools in OP. It should be a discussion about our children and what is best for them. I was a proud Mann parent before this incident, and remain proud today. I suggest several of you either grow up or seek the guidance of a mental health professional.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 3:53 PM

JB: Three mistakes in your post. Perhaps you should let it go? To be fair, though, this medium is a casual one -- but not to some! That said, a neighbor just made a good point: Kumar has done an excellent job in hiring new teachers; each better than the last. It would be a shame if some of them were caught in this mess. It's good teaching that matters most of all.

JB from OP  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 3:22 PM

As Bryant posted much earlier, I too have found these comments very interesting. What I have found most interesting though, is OP Board Candidate acting like s/he has all of the inside information about this situation. S/he would seem more credible if some effort was put into spelling and grammar. Maybe s/he should interview for 6th grade English next time - as a student, not a teacher.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 2:30 PM

Wasnt there some controversy recently about schools not wanting to have parents monitor or watch their kids in grade school? The school thought that parents in the building were a distraction. Maybe if more parents had dropped by the school for a day to monitor both staff and kid this wouldnt have happened.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 2:04 PM

My Mann student was sick on some days of the ISAT testing and had to make up several of the tests. She told me that the teacher was very strict about the time allowed for her to makeup the test. I don't think that whatever happened to have caused this investigation was a widespread issue, rather an isolated incident of bad judgement. While wrong likely occured, I believe that there should be time for a proper investigation to really see what happened and who was there b4 firng all our leadership

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 2:04 PM

District 97 parent. I agree that the parents and kids are a special breed. If you follow the story 3-5 years and check your facts you will find that these special kids are often the drug users at OPRF and their parents are the ones who cover up their bad behavior. The mean girls at OPRF former Mann students, boys involved in cheating at OPRF former Mann kids. The chickens always come home to roost. Stop enabling the kids and let them grow up.

A District 97 Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 1:53 PM

Educated, above average IQ, successful parents who are high earners, tend to produce offspring with higher IQ and create child-rearing environments which promote education, achievement. Only these parents can afford home prices in northwest Oak Park (Mann School) and similar communities nation wide (e.g. New Canaan CT., Westchester County NY, La Jolla, CA.) where these folks cluster with their above-average and gifted children in a distinct social class. Reality.

How Ironic  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 1:07 PM

N vs S, Thank you for exemplifying my point.

Antioch Too?  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 12:44 PM

Having just seen that a teacher resigned at Antioch High School for manipulating grades of football players for eligibility purposes, it's interesting that the principal was not asked to resign, too. Maybe things do happen that are outside the knowledge of the principal. It will be interesting to see ISBE's report whether this was a major offense. My guess: NO. Can the genie be put back in the bottle: NO. I'm surprised this wasn't an admin leave pending ISBE rather than a resignation request.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 12:40 PM

Again with the numbers? There are 10 schools in the district not 8.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 12:06 PM

OP Board Member, don't make excuses for yourself. You made the mistakes and didn't care to correct them. That is laziness and children pick up from that. I try to do my best when spelling and appreciate systems that notify me of when I spell a word wrong so I can improve my abilities with spelling. If people did not care about improving and wanted the benefits, they would find ways to cheat to remain with the other students who actually do the work. You aren't a cheater are you OP Board Member

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 12:02 PM

Cont... It seems that a lot of people don't understand what they should expect from a leader. They will fumble through and accept anything without knowing when a leader has no business being a leader of the people involved. Learn what a leader really should be and apply it to everyone who is suppose to be leading you.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 12:00 PM

Cont... A leader will stand and answer questions and defend their decision as being right, and if ultimately proven wrong, a leader does not hide away, a leader will accept they did make a mistake and accept responsibility and resign. The word accountability is wrong is using it to anyone in leadership. It is a softened word to make a leader sound less responsible for his or her actions. A leader takes responsibility and all that comes with it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:57 AM

A Principal is like any other leader. A leader needs outstanding qualities to become a leader. Number one, a leader will do what is best to get the job done. A leader will not kiss ass to anyone and impede upon their own character which only would cause them to lose the qualities of being a leader. A leader will stand by what decisions they have made because they believe it was for the best outcome. Cont...

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:54 AM

OP Board Candidate, I really don't know how you made it through one of the elite colleges you mentioned you and your wife attended without knowing how to spell the work "Violations" and now "Believe", when this posting tells you that the word is misspelled. I don't believe you have any information and you have made up facts. You base cheating on severity of what is cheating. Cheating on a test is cheating. Take your time in posting. This is not a test so don't rush to finish on time, or longer.

Top O' Food Chain  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:52 AM

I am not a 1 percenter, I'm a 0.5 percenter. My kid graduated from Mann. I am utterly disgusted with the hovering parental enigma in our town. Both in school and in youth sports! THANK YOU Mrs. Kumar for the years you spent trying to make chicken salad out of chicken shhhhh.

Please stop  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:37 AM

OP Board is it that you seem to have so much "inside information"? That, in and of itself is highly inappropriate. I'll choose to believe my child, who is not yet capable of concocting elaborate excuses and only relayed what was witnessed. Have you asked your child? Would you believe them?

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:27 AM

I would give up my six figure job if I had to fight an up hill battle everyday between parents with unrealistic expectations and teachers who offered little or not support. The teachers use the parents like tools. They complain about problems with the principal knowing that the parents will run to the Superintendent. This is not the only six figure job out there.

yet another mann parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:03 AM

Anybody who thinks that the principal resigned or allowed herself to be forced out because teachers and/or staff acted independently is fooling themselves. Would you give up a 6-figure job if a member of your staff participated in a deceptive act without your knowledge? Think about it.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 11:02 AM

OP Board Candidate, you are very strong in your approach that a little cheating is alright. Is it possible that you and your wife were allowed to cheat a little to get both of you through school? I noticed you had spelled violations wrong a couple of times and then on your 3rd attempt made the correction. This posting system notifies you when a word is misspelled. Were you a bit lazy and didn't want to correct your spelling because you are use to having teachers do that for you?

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 10:54 AM

I think the numbers speak for themselves. 20-25 students may have been effected but the entire student body has do loose a principal. I think that the board was reactive and they do not have a plan at all regarding how they will fill the three principle positions. Interim principal is not good enough. I hope that the fifth grade teach who dropped the dime is ready to take on a leadership role at the school.

yet another mann parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:51 AM

@Please stop: Bingo! Our child just told us the same thing, specifically that they were pulled out of class and sent to the computer lab to finish. Thanks for posting.

N vs S  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:47 AM

Where is the best place for your kid(s) to get the best education? I say Mann School. The stats tell the answer. Who decided that the more valuable homes were to be built in North Oak Park? People with more money tend to have more education which tend to do more at home. Not that hard to figure out.

OP parent  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 9:44 AM

@please stop, I agree with you, these posts are out of control! But students do get pulled out of class for make-up tests or if they have an IEP so it doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong if a student is pulled out of a classroom. The 2nd week of ISAT testing in OP has always been make-up testing (or at least for many years it has been done this way). Don't want to assume because a student is pulled out, that means there is impropriety. It could simply be they were sick the week before.

Please stop  

Posted: March 25th, 2012 8:51 AM

OP Board Candidate...I'm not sure where you got your information either but 600 kids did not take the test. It was only grades 3-5 so that number should at least be cut in half. I do not have access to the facts, but was told by my own child that kids were pulled out of class to complete unfinished answers on a different day than the test was completed. Out of the mouths of babes...


Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:42 AM

The only real question is, Will this incident help improve public education in Oak Park? This concern should be shared by everyone.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:29 AM

@OP Board Candidate: I am not sure where you got your information, but Roberts says 20-25 tests may have been compromised.


Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:20 AM

@Realtor/N vs S. It is true across the country that a school district/community with the least amount of renters/Sec 8 households is more attractive than the alternative. Should I throw in "east of Ridgeland, too?" Mann is that district in OP. Again, do you Mannbots understand how childish some of you sound? BTW, why do you think that the RF kids do better than the Mann kids? Even LESS renters/Sec 8! Or do you think that the RF families have superior IQ's to the Mann families? Let it rest!


Posted: March 25th, 2012 7:06 AM

I'd love to throw a parade for the staff that turned her in. There is nothing innovative about cheating. I wonder is she would have done such a think if she were a homeowner in the district. People have houses to sell and this kind of negative attention won't be a draw to potential buyers.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:34 PM

@ board candidate - as someone once said to me when I attended my first pro hockey game as a kid - "act like ya been here before!". If everone in NWOP is nouveau upper middle class, take a pill. Being overbearing and greedy stage parents won't make life easier for you kids. Rather, it will make them neurotic social climbers who think morality is relative and the ends justify the means.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:33 PM

It does help to sell houses when you say its in the Mann school dist.

OP Doard Candidate  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:27 PM

dont you get that is all driven by insecurity? Most of us in Mann are middle/ new 9first generation) upper middle class. We are not generally the top 1% (income above 400k) so we have enough to feel comfortable but also know that it can all go away...


Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:22 PM

It is the very entitlement attitude of D97 parents, and particularly Mann parents, that created the atmosphere where this cheating would occur. The spare no taxpayer cost, our kids deserve the best of everything, I'll bully my Kid's teachers into what I want attitude so evident in many (not all, but many) Mann parents is exactly why you have a principal and teachers who think cheating reflects the values of the community.

Benjamin from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:10 PM

One article on this noted that the students will not retake the test. If true, why not? Regardless of how slight some might want to make it, or how many, some kids had an unfair advantage. Cheating is cheating. Moving forward, there needs to be an investigation - who else knew/participated (fire them) and how long this was going on. Unfortunately, it's usually not a rogue actor doing it on their own. Once that is determined, then we can discuss why it occurred and how to change future behavior.

N vs S  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:53 PM

Mann also has the highest scores for minorities as well. When compared to the other schools.

North Oak Park elitists  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:49 PM

And the north Oak Park elitists come out in droves. It'e clear from this sample that Mann ABSOLUTELY = spoiled parents and spoiled kids. Let's call a spade a spade.

OP parent  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:46 PM

It seems to me that a person who knows she did the right thing would not resign after reviewing a report that was inaccurate, unfounded, or made big issues of small details. It also seems to me that lots of people do some good things, but are still held accountable for their mistakes. And if those Mann moms contributed some of their volunteer hours to other schools in the district more kids could benefit from the extras they provide.The Moms might learn a few things as well.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:43 PM

@OP. Then we mostly have agreement, but I'd add that "the devil is in the details" regarding "scores." I otherwise thought that you had some very good points, but that you were somewhat moving in to the all-too-well-known "elitism" of the Mannbots - which amongst yourselves is acceptable, but, as you can probably imagine, not amongst the population of the other 7 schools.

yet another mann parent  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:43 PM

Food for thought . . . this behavior is likely happening at ALL D97 schools--especially erasing stray marks which can interfere with the machine accurately reading the students' answers. My money is on select Mann staff members who saw an opportunity to potentially rid themselves of a leader who is known for being abrasive. I believe the people who leaked this information did not do it to expose dishonesty.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:20 PM

@OP Board Member. I think that you should look to see which D97 schools have the smallest number of renters and minorities and factor that in to your "Mann is GREAT!" argument. I'll make it easier for you: compare "white vs white" and "black vs black" and then you'll know which schools are performing well. This also plays a large role for the RF kids and the Giles kids, etc. Motivated parents generally have motivated kids - the difference in IQ is very, very small in comparison.

Fact Check from OP  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:41 PM

So Mann is at 96th percentile in the state, great. But if they cheated to get there -- and 1 minute extra IS cheating, however small the infraction -- then questions need to be asked about the validity of the results. Where's the Board on this? Where are they on anything? Probably on Spring break....


Posted: March 24th, 2012 7:11 PM said that Mann=spoiled parents and kids. What does that have to do with property taxes? Clearly, the Mann community did not single-handedly pass the referendum. Focus on the issue please. Our kids are depending on us to actually be grown-ups and do what's best for them. And we are relying on our teachers and principals to do the same.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:32 PM

cont ... Which is why property values have fallen less here than in some other places. School success is a complex issue. What happened at Mann isn't. The rules were not followed. The reasons aren't all that important. Accountability matters. Break the rules and suffer the consequences. I'm sorry for the Mann parents and students but let's call it what it is. Knowing the potential consequences, a professional made a choice and it ended badly. It's too bad but it's not at all unfair.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:26 PM

You can, actually, buy academic success. Maybe not student by student but certainly school district by school district. More affluent districts outperform poorer ones on a regular basis. There are lots of things that make schools more or less successful but to deny that money makes a difference is at best naive. Parental involvement also matters but is affected by economic status as well as other factors. Many people have moved to Oak Park because of the schools. That helps property values. cont


Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:11 PM

Maybe Pope will give Kumar a job polishing his brick cufflinks?


Posted: March 24th, 2012 5:45 PM

There's nothing wrong with wanting the best for your kid, we all do. However, there is something very wrong with superfluous spending of other people's money and justifying it as being in the best interest of the kids. The biggest factor in school success is parental involvement, not big spending. You can't buy academic success, but you can destroy property values with crippling tax bills.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 3:29 PM

I've found the comment section of this article particularly interesting. I was under the impression that the state government was the driving force of the ISAT pressure. I'd also think the out-going principal was under strain to ensure the scores didn't slip under her reign. It seems there is a tendency to blame the parents but I'd venture that this is reflective of a problem in our society as a whole.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 3:28 PM

@OPRFDad...Mann=spoiled parents and spoiled kids? Grow up. Your comments are crossing the line. If you were part of the Mann School community you would know that the majority of families are probably just like yours. We want our kids to have the best education possible, as I'm sure you do for yours.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 3:15 PM

Tax rebate, OPRFDad? Think it's unfair to pay Catholic School tuition and then also "foot the bill" for others in your community who attend D97's 8 elementary and 2 middle schools, not just Mann? Here are St. Giles' "scores." More for less? I doubt either would stand an audit:

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 2:51 PM

A Mann school teacher might be able to shed some light on the question of whether they considered it to be an adminstration directive to "teach to the test". Were there any actual safeguards in place to prevent the manipulation of the results? Is this an isolated and unfortunate incident or an example of a widespread problem? I trust the school board will address community concerns with a full report.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 2:36 PM

@chronic, you are getting to the heart of the matter. Mann = spoiled parents and spoiled kids. Think i am wrong? Look at the referendum. God forbid d97 kids not have every little thing they want. When we're spending $13.5 a kid and Giles spends a fraction of that and gets equal or better results, something is very wrong, and in a nutshell, it comes down to priorities. Parents who don't deny their kids want the rest of society to foot the bill.

Symptom of a Chronic Disease from op  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:26 PM

@MannDad: I agree. Nicely said. I would add that parents are still the first and most important teacher of their children. Even in Oak Park where the schools are good, one cannot just "delegate" their children's education to the district. The current crop of "helicopter parents" should be focused on raising and teaching their children, not on harrassing the school, teachers and principal into doing it for them. THIS is the chronic disease to which I refer.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:19 PM

Wanting one's children to be well educated is not a chronic disease. It's a chronic desire, and a goal everyone should share. An illness occurs when something -- a false goal? -- forces a system off-kilter. Perhaps this incident will help D97 remember that it's the children who come first and not legislated systems of accountability, which though they have a place, have only one place.

Long Time Oak Parker  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:09 PM

@Q, I never meant to imply it was not wrong, I was just giving the principal the benefit of the doubt. I don't know her or the school so I can't speak to her character or anyone else who is involved. It isn't as simple as it used to be to administer these tests tho so I try to remain positive even with some of the "better than other school" comments on here. There will be many who say now we know why the kids were better but I am trying to believe differently. There are many layers to this story

Symptom of a Chronic Disease from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:08 PM

Ask yourself why the principal or her subordinates would do this. Ask yourself whether this is just a "bad apple" or whether it's a school, a district, a system or a community that has a problem. I'm not surprised that this happened and I'm not surprised that it happened at Mann. Perhaps if the taxes weren't so high, the pressure from parents so incredible, and the students so unprepared...this is just a symptom; think about the disease for a moment.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 1:02 PM

Well oneoponion I guess if principals grew on trees Mrs. Kumar could be let go immediately. As it is I am quite concerned that District 97 will not be able to replace all three of the principal positions that it must now fill by next fall.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:32 PM

Cont... So if this was just a mistake, then maybe if a punk breaks into your home he can plead it was a mistake and you would agree with that. You have to take a stand on the values you want to instill in children, and by allowing children extra time is not a balanced way to demonstrate the importance of equally treating kids. Is this as serious as a punk breaking into your home? No, but maybe that punk learned that if you don't get caught everything is ok.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:29 PM

Long Time Oak Parker, maybe you are right, but to agree with you, I would have to assume that everyone administering the test were not informed that they were not allowed to give extra time for students. That would be difficult for me to understand because in the schools I went to, when a test was given the teacher would say stop, or time up, etc.. The teacher new tests have time limits. Cont..

EP Mom  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:28 PM

Forgive me and my limited vocabulary. Isn't "improperly administered" just doubletalk for cheated? Oh, I forgot, Oak Parkers don't cheat; that is just for closed-minded, obviously racist peasants in other towns.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:08 PM

Ctd Reform focused on scores may lead some to cheat, & they & their reform ideas must be examined. Rhee's idea to tie pay & job security of teachers to scores led to cheating & the very schools held up as shining examples were exposed after "a yearlong investigation of the Washington schools...found a high rate of erasures on tests as well as suspiciously large gains at 41 schools."

A former teacher from Chicago  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:06 PM

When this principal was an AP at a middle school in Gurnee 8 years ago, she fabricated several items on teacher evaluation forms about me which were simply false and untrue. I lost my teaching job because of such inaccuracies. I suppose one's character never changes, does it? Karma is a b*tch, isn't it Kumar?


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:59 AM

Whether intended or not, students given extra time that was not specified by an IEP received an unfair advantage. I remember a 5th grade teacher @ Holmes in the 80s who had us bring our California Achievement Test to her when we finished and told me to "look again" at certain questions. I thought it was odd but later knew it was cheating and lost some respect for a teacher I otherwise loved. Even Michelle Rhee, darling of ed reform, is not immune (Ctd)


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:55 AM

Well said MannDad. Children are not products. Schools are not businesses. We are reaping what we sew by holding test scores in such high regard. There is no mistaking the message in education today - test scores are everything. This is the end result.

N vs S  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:44 AM

How many students in RF schools? How many Schools?


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:27 AM

But, well note, River Forest trumps Oak Park big time in academic achievement.

N vs S  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:21 AM

The last time the Wednesday Journal posted test scores for all of Dist 97 schools, Mann ranked #1


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:21 AM

for N vs S


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:20 AM

My children have had some wonderful teachers at Mann, and the senior administration has worked hard to keep them challenged and engaged. Mandated testing is irrelevant to the their love of learning, which has been well-fostered at Mann. Mistaking high scores for success is a national tragedy, and the Mann fiasco aligns with these misplaced values. Similar problems will reoccur so long as people believe that a quality education can be readily quantified.

Long Time Oak Parker  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:17 AM

@N vs S - I assume you are trying to get a rise out of people. You might want to check your facts before you post your comment next time because your statement is incorrect. Mann students are not smarter than any of the other elementary schools in Oak Park. Less diverse they are, but not smarter.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 11:10 AM

It's fair to say that Mrs. Kumar is a divisive figure at Mann. Students and families are not treated equally. Mann deserves a better leader. I can't understand why her resignation is not until the end of June. I don't see how she can be effective from here on out.

N vs S  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:52 AM

Clarification-It's true that there are more students from upper income brackets within Oak Park than any other place in the Village. (In the Mann School boundaries)

N vs S  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:50 AM

This will not disprove the fact that Mann students are generally smarter than the majority of the other grammar school students in Dist 97. I believe there is a direct correlation between socioeconomic's and academic success. It's true that there are more students from upper income brackets within Oak Park than any other place in the Village.

Enough already  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:45 AM

From Wikipedia "The rules infringed may be explicit, or they may be from an unwritten code of conduct based on morality, ethics or custom, making the identification of cheating a subjective process."

Long Time Oak Parker  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:24 AM

@Q - it says the OPTA alerted the district to the issue, fyi. My kids never went to Mann (we are about as far from Mann as possible) but I see no delight in this story. I would assume that all involved made a mistake. It is cheating but I don't think it was egregious. They did not actually answer questions for students. It's still wrong what was done but even tho we have spent years hearing about how great Mann is, I don't believe the intent was as malicious as some are implying.

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:24 AM

Paragraph 12, "nor did they intend to provide anyone with an unfair advantage on the test"If some kids get extra time, and some kids dont get extra, even if they finish to recheck their answers,then an unfair advantage was given to some students.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 10:12 AM

Mann Parent Also, Are you saying Roberts fired Kumar? It doesn't say that in the story, and also do you think Roberts is going to sweep something under the carpet? He would lose his job if he was caught. Kumar got caught. Now ask yourself how did Kumar get caught when everything that took place was within the school.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:58 AM

@Fish...1 principal is retiring which is not the superintendant's doing. And 1 was involved in an agregious violation of the rules. I applaud him for making the right decision which, by the way, only makes his job harder. Would you have been happier if this had been swept under the rug?

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:47 AM

The picture of Kumar used in this story looks more like a mug shot if she wasn't smiling. Didn't anyone think to tell Kumar she looked very disheveled and should have taken a moment to groom herself.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:42 AM

OPRFDad, you are absolutely correct that all teachers who willing took part in cheating are cheaters and should be removed. The benefit of cheating without being caught would have been a terrific job of Kuman and the teachers, and they would have all accepted the congratulations. That didn't happen so now they should all accept and submit their resignations. A society based on cheating only ends cheating each other. No one wants a teacher who lies to their kid.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 9:27 AM

All I can say is a fish stinks from the head. This is now one of many concerns in D97... three Principals in one year! I think it is time to reconsider who really is behind the troubles and the now excessive spending in the district: time for Supt. Al Roberts to move along into his second retirement.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:41 AM

And to be clear, it stinks that this happened, but the ONLY way Mann can regain its reputation in the community is to take a no-tolerance policy on this stuff. As a property owner in Mann, I purchased here in large part because of the school. If the school has a reputation as "success at all costs" or "cheating isn't cheating when ...", there is no faster way to destroy the reputation of what is a great school. Take a hard line now, or pay the price later.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:32 AM

@Concerned Parent - you sound like a politician: "improper post-test administration." Call it what it is: cheating, and move to correct it. Mann is a human organization. Human organizations make mistakes. But to recharacterize this as something other than cheating is, well, self-deluded. And it sounds from the article that this spanned more than one grade, three through five, so it is a little more pervasive than a rogue actor. Parents should move to have the cheating teachers removed.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:27 AM

As a parent with a child at Mann, I can assert that the teachers at Mann do not condone cheating, nor is it a place with a cheating culture present. Parents at Mann do not condone cheating and their children know this. Please stop overgeneralizing an unfortunate incident of bad judgement made by a small group of adults. My child is not learning that greed is good. I don't argue that there appears to be some improper POST test administration issue. This is wrong and should not have occurred.

T.J. from OP  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:14 AM

Live by the sword, die by the sword. That's the way it goes.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:08 AM

whatever happened with the disabled child that she wanted moved to a d97 selfcontained classroom at the beginning of the year? i know mann parents felt it was good for their children to be with kids with differing ablilities but she felt that mann could not meet his needs. i never heard what the end result was.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 8:07 AM

According to public records, Kumar made $134,000 last year. Not too shabby. But she wanted more. Just showing the continued greed of teachers and unions. Hurting the students as much as they can for their own personal gain. Apparently the values Mann wants to teach its students is GREED is good. Just don't get caught.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 7:45 AM

I also know that this matter has been forwarded to Lisa Madigan's office for review, with a strong suggestion that the AG conduct a forensic investigation of the school and D97. Any culture that condones cheating to get ahead has suspect morals, and their work in all areas should be reviewed to assure that they are satisfying their fiduciary obligations to the taxpayers.


Posted: March 24th, 2012 6:54 AM

Perhaps I am wrong the statement reads, to me, that the teachers/other parties were working under Mrs. Kumar's directions. Having been a Mann parent, I felt she placed a very high priority on these scores. I don't know what the rest of the OP elementary schools are like but it seemed extreme. I applaud the person who related the discrepancy to the OPTA. They did the right thing.

D97 Parent from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:59 AM

As soon as Q from Oak Park posts a comment -- respectful debate is over and sarcastic snarkiness takes over.

Another Mann Parent  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:42 AM

This move by the district does not take in to consideration the needs of the students. Mann School has had three principals in 10 years and I find it concerning that three of our schools are in need of principals. School principals are not easy to come by and I feel that my tax dollars entitle my children to more that a partially invested interm principal for the next school year.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:27 AM

Mann Parent Also, I was referencing to your previous comment and now have noticed your follow up comment and understand that you readjusted your previous comment.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:21 AM

Q...again, I agree with you! And again, it's all about the kids...not us.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 24th, 2012 12:08 AM

Mann Parent Also, my comment was in reference to you saying "assume that all Mann parents" to How Ironic! How Ironic wrote, "encountered so many Mann parents". Communication is important. Good communication is even better. If the staff knew what they read, they would not have done what they did. If they are teachers, then they should be fired because they are lacking in comprehension and can't improve your kids. Those teachers may have been given extra time on getting their teaching certificate.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:51 PM

Q from Oak Park...If you read my posts you would know I agree with you. Sheesh!


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:39 PM

When it comes down to it, I'm a pretty big douche.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:33 PM

Mann Parent Also and Julie Klein, if you can't read this story and understand it, how can you expect your kids too. Pay attention and if you need a little extra help, ask for help in understanding it. Supt. Albert Roberts, if your teachers can't understand the rules of the test, maybe you can take time to teach them.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:27 PM

How Ironic...indeed you did not say every parent, just want to represent the population you haven't heard from. I was not suggesting the grass is greener at Mann. Just that things aren't always as they appear which this whole thing clearly demonstrates. Safe to say we're all on the side of the kids.

How Ironic!  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:21 PM

Mann Parent Also, I never said "every Mann Parent", but I did say and have met many with a superiority complex about their kids being in Mann... I actually never felt the "grass" was "greener" in the Mann district.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:16 PM

@ How Ironic...please don't stereotype and assume that all Mann parents have a superiority complex. Some of us are actually envious of other schools and hope our kids can enjoy the same passion and energy those school leaders exude. Grass is always greener.

Manny Parent Also  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:12 PM

I'm fairly certain the district would have taken into consideration whether the students involved were on IEPs. Last I knew, not following the rules equals cheating. Even our grade schoolers know that.

How Ironic!  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:07 PM

How ironic that this would happen at Mann, especially when I've encountered so many Mann parents with such a superiority complex about their kids being in a school with "superior" "standardized test" results compared to other Oak Park public schools. I suppose those test results mean a little less now that we all know how they were "achieved". Let's see how scores stack up when the rules are followed, like everyone else. This whole situation just makes one wonder if all the skeletons.


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:07 PM

Poor Julie. Boo hoo. Read the article. My conclusions follow from application of common sense. Why would there be disciplinary actions if a teacher were following an individual plan? Mann continues to slip, despite the excessive spending ...


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 11:02 PM

@mom - yeah, I know. Julie thinks we're idiots. They cheated and got caught. Own it.

Mom of kid with disability  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:56 PM

Pleeese - you cannot blame this one on kids with disabilities. Kids with disabilities get extra time only if the IEP team has determined that it is appropriate and has documented this in the student's IEP. If a kid's IEP specifies extra time on the ISAT then it is appropriate to give that kid extra time. It is done within the rules and regs. It is not a violation.


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:56 PM

Julie, the situation you are describing is clearly not what they were doing here. Teachers weren't abiding an individual plan, but were giving kids extra time at their own discretion. This is a big screw up. Don't try to obfuscate to protect the school.


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:40 PM

Giving kids extra time to take a timed test is cheating, no two ways about that. The state has rules, and Mann School didn't abide by those rules and got caught.

Mann Parent Also  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:17 PM

Sorry...I posted about the best interests of the kids. Should have clarified that I'm not the same Mann Parent who posted previously.

Another OP parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:16 PM

I read the article - the district conducted an investigation, she heard the results, and then she resigned. Do you really need a digital whiteboard to connect those dots?


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 10:08 PM

I didn't support the referendum. Can I have my money back now? $13.5k a kid to cheat is more than enough money.

Mann Parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:39 PM

Given the fact that the district is in the process of replacing both middle school principles...I have to believe that this decision was not taken lightly, nor hastily. I believe in school leadership that is based on the best interest of the children. From the information that has been presented...that was clearly not the case here. I am hopeful for a positive outcome for, above all, the children. That's what it's all about...right?

Another mann parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:34 PM

@ another OP parent- read the article again. Nowhere does it say that SHE was involved in any cheating or that she was aware of it. I'm all for holding people accountable. I just hope they are holding the right people accountable.

another OP parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:30 PM

OMG - apparently there is (at least on occasion) some level of accountability at D97. For those who are sympathetic to the principal - honor is honor is honor. If she was so stressed by achievement expecations that cheating (aka "violations") seemed like a viable option, then she should have resigned a long time ago. Our kids deserve not only a good education, but good role models as well. If they get to college they'll be stressed by tests - do we want them to think cheating will be ok?


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:16 PM

One of the few woman and minority principals. Sad. Did it have to be?

Mann Parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 9:15 PM

I am waiting to see the press release that the teachers involved in this have also resigned or that they have been terminated. Ms. Kumar shouldn't be the only person facing consequences here.

Gina Robbins  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 7:32 PM

Disappointed that the board and district have conveniently chosen to release this story to the press on the eve of D97's Spring Break, when neither the board nor the superintendent are available to explain these facts, and how they portray a commitment to our children's learning. Truly saddened to lose such a committed principal, over standardized testing--particularly when it's been stated that there was no intended malice in the reported errors. Why not just void those results?

OP parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 7:13 PM

I am shocked, shocked! to hear that Mann might be gaming its test results. Shocked! Did I mention shocked?


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:56 PM

yin meet yang

Parent from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:35 PM

I am saddened and disappointed that a valued and excellent principal lost her job as a result of this incident. Without more information, I feel it was a rush to judgement and, quite frankly, unfair. I am deeply concerned that we were informed in the late afternoon on a Friday before a break with no opportunity to ask questions or weigh in. Running an excellent school is an incredibly hard job, and Mrs. Kumar has done a great job for many years. I'm a Mann parent and I support her.

another parent  

Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:25 PM

So sad that she had to lose her job over senseless standardized testing. Don't our children deserve a better education than teaching to the test? The schools are so stressed out about performance on these tests, it makes me sick. Good luck to you Ms. Kumar!


Posted: March 23rd, 2012 6:04 PM

What is the recourse for homeowners in the Mann district whose property values may suffer as a result of the gross ethical violation?

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