Teacher Layoffs Draws Concern In District 111
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#1 Jun 10, 2010
A reporter that is not fair or balanced! Shame on you, Ms. Shamah! You were offered to speak to the board members and you refusedv and I was at that board meeting. As a parent and community member, I am disgusted with your inaccurate reporting. You were used and it worked. In fact, you sat next to the ousted members, one who is a convicted felon for steeling an elderly life savings. You made your decision based what they told you. Did you know that the four of the newly elected board members reached out to different communities, helped clean up money laundrying and saved the district lots of money. Did you investigate that Ms. Shamah? In fact, the "D" members are the only ones that had respect for your nationality to listen and attend Arab and Muslim forum. Where were you to report on that? Where were the the people you were sitting with? They were invited as well to those forums. The ones you sat with purposefully ignored your own nationality. Please do a balanced and fair reporting.
#2 Jun 11, 2010
Burbank School District 111 has undergone major changes that have resulted in an interim superintendent, no permanent assistant superintendent and a business manager running the show.
Thomas Long, who had previously served as superintendent of the district, was fired from the position for allegations ranging from misconduct to how he spent funds related to the district.
But according to a District 111 parent, Long’s termination is the result of board members “ganging up on him” for no legitimate cause.
#3 Jun 11, 2010
“The district is being run like old-style Chicago politics,” said the parent.“People are scared to speak up because of what they think is going to happen to their job.”
District 111 has recently laid off almost all of their non-certified teacher aides in what they say is a way to save money during a time when school funding is at a near-standstill and many jobs and programs are at risk of getting cut.
All summer enrichment programs and summer sports camp have been cut.
According to interim Supt. James Gray, the cuts had to be made to save the district money.
But just recently, the district rehired a part-time secretary, who upon retiring, received her full pension.
Sharon Wiel will be receiving $25 an hour for a job description that the district defines as “special projects secretary.”
She will be responsible for showing new Supt. Carol Kunst, who assumes office in July, around the district and introducing her to all eight buildings.
“They are giving someone $25 an hour to show the superintendent the buildings, despite the fact that this woman has worked in the district for years and knows her way around very well,” said the parent.
She added that the hourly rate Weil is receiving is more than what average teachers in the district are getting paid.
According to Gray, Weil will not be working 40 hour work weeks and her hours per year will be kept at a minimum.
Gray defends the hire as saying that the new secretary needs to be able to introduce Kunst to all elected officials, including Burbank Mayor Harry Klein and state Sen. Louis Viverito (D-11th).
Gray says he does not regret his decision to lay off the teacher’s aides because the aides are not certified, and some of them “don’t even know how to type.”
When asked why teacher’s aides were hired in the first place despite not even knowing how to do something as basic as type, Gray responded that “they were never tested for something like that.”
The parent says that board members in the district have chosen to take sides against other board members, causing them anguish and fear of speaking up and defending themselves.
“There is a personal vendetta against some board members,” said the parent.
She adds that there are board members who strive to bring panic onto other board members.
She says these members — Dave Kasper, Danette Williams, Donna Zarnecki, Frank Kriegseis and Linda Cusack — also led the effort to get Long fired as superintendent.
“It doesn’t make sense that Tom Long went years never getting in trouble, never getting written up once. Yet, in one week, out of the blue, he gets written up three times,” said the parent.“And then there was an automatic meeting held to get him kicked out.”
The parent adds that the worst of the situation is the meeting that led to the termination of Long.
Board members refused to continue the meeting into the next day, causing Long to suffer physical pain, says the parent.
The meeting lasted into the late hours of the night, even though Long’s attorney pleaded with the board to have the meeting held the next day.
Gray defends the allegations by stating that “if it were me in his place, I would’ve gotten up and left.”
He adds that his attorney could have just taken his client and walked out of the building.
“People don’t understand that the man’s job was on the line,” the parent said.“They wanted to see him suffer.”
The parent says that the intimidation tactics that board members are using have forced members of the board to choose early retirement rather than stick around and deal with the stress.
Fred Wagner, assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum, is retiring at the end of the year because, according to the parent,“they won’t let him do his job.”
Susan Laff, business manager, is also retiring because of what some say is “not being able to handle the stress anymore.”
“They didn’t trust her to do her job,” said the parent.“They would FOIA every record she did to the point where it got uncontrollable.”
#4 Jun 11, 2010
Former SW suburban schools chief going to court over ouster
BURBANK (STNG)-- Former southwest suburban Burbank School District 111 Supt. Thomas Long has asked a judge to overturn his firing.
Long filed a lawsuit in the Cook County Circuit Court's Chancery Division asking for a review of the District 111 board's decision to fire Long and the charges filed against him, Long's attorney, Edward Copeland, said Friday.
School board members contacted deferred comment on Long to board president Frank Kriegseis, who declined comment on the advice of board attorney Bill Gleason. Gleason also declined comment.
According to board minutes, Long was fired in October because the board found "a preponderance of evidence" to sustain six of seven charges levied against him.
They were: improper eavesdropping on employees; buying equipment and software to surveil board members and staff; creating a hostile and fearful workplace; inappropriate workplace conduct; dishonesty to board members; and failure and/or refusal to follow board directives.
Long was fired after two lengthy hearings in October. The board met until 12:20 a.m. one night and 3:48 a.m. the next, according to board minutes.
Copeland contends Long was "not treated fairly in the hearing.
"He's a decent guy, he really is," Copeland said.
Long joined the district in 1996 as business manager and was named superintendent in November 2004. He signed a four-year contract in June 2008.
In June of this year, Long told the board he planned to retire in June 2011. But in August, he was placed on paid suspension. The board did not say why.
Long, of Gurnee, was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, the board, which meets Wednesday, soon will form a search committee to find Long's replacement.
"We want a younger Mike Ditka. We want to get a superintendent who can motivate," Kriegseis said.
He plans to seek input from parents, teachers and residents.
Former Supt. James Gray, whom Long replaced, is interim superintendent.
#5 Jun 11, 2010
Burbank schools superintendent suspended
STICKNEY TOWNSHIP (STNG)-- Burbank School District 111's superintendent is on paid suspension.
Details are sketchy as to why the board voted to suspend Supt. Tom Long at a special meeting Wednesday.
"It's a personnel matter," board vice president David Kasper said.
Calls to the district for Long were forwarded to board president Frank Kriegseis, who was also tight-lipped about the decision.
"There are a lot of facts we need to get through," Kriegseis said. "We have a lot of paperwork we need to get through."
Kriegseis said he couldn't provide a timeline as to how things progressed, but did say it wasn't a knee-jerk reaction.
"It takes time to make a decision," he said. "We've made a decision."
The board is expected to discuss Long's fate at the next board meeting, scheduled for Wednesday. In the meantime, Frank Wagner, assistant superintendent for instruction and human resources, is running the district, Kriegseis said.
Last year, Long earned $175,649, according to state records compiled by Championnews.net . He could not be reached for comment Thursday.
"This board is trying to focus on becoming a blue-ribbon district," Kriegseis said. "We believe we have the teachers and the the parents to do it. With some good direction, we know that can happen."
Board attorney Ray Hauser added the board "will be serving charges upon [Long] with regard to his employment."
"I would not say the board is unhappy with his performance," Hauser said. "The board has issues that they want to talk to him about."
Copyright 2009 STNG Wire, The Chicago Sun-Times. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
#6 Mar 14, 2011
In response to Bewildered..........Just before every election a " meet the candidates night" is held. It is our understanding that the Triple "D" group were approach by a Parent's group that was interested in having a Forum in Burbank but was turned down because they committed to attend Arab and Muslim forum in Bridgeview. If your telling the community you want to connect with them why would you attend forum in Bridgeview? Would you think that the B"R" best group would want to show off their candidates? David Kasper,Danette Williams and Donna Zarnecki played it just like Scott Lee Cohen did for Lieutenant Governor.Give them what they want to hear.
In Bridgeview they were in a very control and safe setting with other candidates running for other offices and if the tough questions were asked there were very few Burbank residents to hear their responses and learn more about them.
There was a list of very hard to answer questions out there ready to be asked, that meant a lot of explaining on their part that we feel and they may of felt would have change the outcome of the election. Why risk it.
Why bring this up now......Well the elections are coming up and the Board majority ( David Kasper,Danette Williams and Donna Zarnecki ) have two candidates running with Linda Cusack and Frank C. Kriegseis for the School board. Will a " meet the candidates night" be held this year to get a real understanding of who the candidates are? It worked once ,why not try it again and not have it. With a possible shift in the Board majority will they risk a " meet the candidates night" ? I don't think so.
#7 Mar 16, 2011
No...A "meet the candidates night" is not taking place this year.
#8 Apr 1, 2011
I would like to remove his (superintendent)pony tail very slowly one hair follicle at a time so he could feel some of the pain he caused these terminated personal. And then he should work until mid June with no hair back there.
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