Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Southampton Village & Surrounding Areas News - Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer In Contract Negotiations With Iowa School District - 27east

Appears Dr. Houselog came in second again.  To see more about the position which Dr. Houselog was seeking, click on the following:  http://district100watchdog.blogspot.com/2015/04/marion-superintendent-candidates.html

Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer is in contract negotiations with the Marion Independent School District in Iowa as of late last week.
On Tuesday morning, Mr. Dyer said that he was offered the position on Friday to helm the 3,000-student Iowa district starting on July 1. Mr. Dyer said he has not yet accepted the superintendent’s position, but is negotiating a contract and expects to be able to finalize it later this week.
Tuckahoe Board President Bob Grisnik said this week that the district does not know what it will do if Mr. Dyer should choose to leave Tuckahoe, but that the board will explore all its options.
“We don’t have a plan yet,” Mr. Grisnik said. “We are still waiting to see whether or not he is going to get a contract there in Iowa. Once he tells us that he has one, we will begin moving forward with what we have to do.”
Mr. Dyer was first named a finalist by the Marion Independent School District last week, when the district website posted a release identifying the two finalists, Mr. Dyer and Dr. Michael Houselog of Illinois. The position is to replace Sarah Pinion, who is retiring in June.
The announcement comes just four months after Mr. Dyer, who joined the Tuckahoe School District in 2010, turned down a similar administrative position at the Susquehanna Valley School District in upstate New York after receiving a substantial raise from the Tuckahoe Board of Education.
This week, Mr. Dyer said that he thinks now would be a good time to leave the Tuckahoe District because he believes it will be left in good hands. Other than recent financial troubles, the Tuckahoe district has improved steadily over the last few years in terms of test scores and programs, and has increased services for special education students.
Mr. Dyer also has a personal connection to the Iowa area, he said. He used to be a teacher in Iowa, and that is where he met his wife, Cheri, who grew up in Iowa City. Although he is sad to be leaving the Tuckahoe School—he said the Tuckahoe community has been an amazing place to work—he also said he was confident it would be the right move for both himself and the Tuckhaoe School District.
“I have always looked for the opportunity to serve where my educational skills will fit the needs of the district,” Mr. Dyer said. “The community at Marion is very strong and they really support its school. I have a personal connection, the community piece, and a chance for professional growth.”

Above is from:  Southampton Village & Surrounding Areas News - Tuckahoe Superintendent Chris Dyer In Contract Negotiations With Iowa School District - 27east

Monday, April 27, 2015

School drug tests: Costly, ineffective, and more common than you think - The Washington Post

 

By Christopher Ingraham April 27 at 11:24 AM

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Twenty-thousand dollars could do a lot for a typical cash-strapped school district. You could renovate a classroom, or hire a part-time teacher's aide, or buy some computers or a whole bunch of text books.

The school district in Carroll County Georgia -- about 25 miles west of Atlanta -- has $20,000 to spend, but it won't be on any of those things. Instead, they're implementing a random drug testing program for their public high school students. They plan to test up to 80 students each month, according to WSB-TV in Atlanta. With school drug tests costing about $24 a pop, according to Dr. Sharon Levy of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that works out to about $20,000 per year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, about 18 percent of public high schools -- nearly 1 in 5 -- have mandatory drug testing policies like the one Carroll County adopted. Like most of these programs, Carroll County's only applies to athletes, students participating in other extracurricular activities (like marching band), and students who drive to school.

It may seem odd that a school can require your kid to get tested simply for joining, say, the chess club. But the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of such programs in 2002. "We find that testing students who participate in extracurricular activities is a reasonably effective means of addressing the school district’s legitimate concerns in preventing, deterring and detecting drug use,” Clarence Thomas wrote for the 5-4 majority.

But schools are increasingly pushing further. For instance, a nationally-representative survey of 1,300 school districts found that among the districts with drug testing programs, 28 percent randomly tested all students -- not just ones participating in after-school programs. These schools are opening themselves up to a legal challenge

But in the years since the Supreme Court ruling, numerous studies have shown little evidence of effectiveness among these programs. To wit:

  • A 2013 study looked at 14 years of data on student drug use and found that school drug testing was associated with "moderately lower marijuana use," but increased use of other, more dangerous illicit drugs.
  • A 2014 study concluded that drug testing was "was not associated with changes in substance use."
  • A 2013 study comparing drug use rates among schools with and without drug testing programs found some short-term deterrent effect among students who were tested, but no effects among students who weren't tested, and no long-term effects on either drug use or intention to use drugs in the future.

More to the point, school drug programs don't test for the one drug that is most favored by high school students, and which is also the most hazardous to their health: alcohol. The tests also carry a number of significant negative consequences in and of themselves: students subject to testing may be less likely to participate in extracurricular activities. The tests may violate students' privacy by making their personal medications known to school administrators. And they may subject students to disciplinary action, like harsh long-term suspensions and expulsions, that harm their academic prospects.

For all of these reasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently came out against the widespread adoption of drug testing in schools. "The AAP supports effective substance abuse services in schools but opposes widespread implementation of drug testing as a means of achieving substance abuse intervention goals because of the lack of evidence for its effectiveness," they wrote.

School drug tests: Costly, ineffective, and more common than you think - The Washington Post

Corinthian closing its last schools; 10,000 California students displaced - LA Times#page=1#page=1

 

After years of government investigations, Corinthian Colleges Inc. will shut down more than two dozen of its remaining schools, displacing more than 10,000 California students. The move ends the turmoil at what was once one of the nation's largest for-profit college chains but presents fresh challenges to students, who now must seek transfers or federal loan forgiveness.

The loans were both the lifeblood and the downfall of the troubled Orange County company. Easy access to student debt fueled high tuition and big profits — until the federal government cut off the tap last year, as investigators accused Corinthian of falsifying job placement rates.

Many students, attracted by the promise of higher-paying work, now find themselves with heavy debts for degrees of dubious worth. Many others won't graduate at all.

This has really exposed the shortcomings of federal and state oversight, and the accreditation system.- Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success

"A lot of us are devastated," said Dylan Low, 22, who was pursuing a criminal justice associate's degree at Everest College-Ontario and had only three more classes to finish before graduation in July.

The closure, announced Sunday, had been expected for months, but Corinthian gave students and employees almost no notice.

For many observers of the for-profit college industry, Corinthian's meteoric rise and fall offers a cautionary tale for other institutions that rely almost entirely on funding from federal student loans and grants.

Like many other large for-profit schools, Corinthian nearly doubled revenue to $1.75 billion from 2007 to 2011, as the Great Recession prompted millions of unemployed workers to seek opportunity in higher education and career training. But the company lacked the cash flow to survive after the U.S. Education Department barred its access to student loans last summer.

"This has really exposed the shortcomings of federal and state oversight, and the accreditation system," said Pauline Abernathy, vice president of the Institute for College Access & Success, an Oakland advocacy group that focuses on student debt issues. "The fact that a school could be allowed to get so big and so reliant on taxpayer funding — and to harm so many students without action being taken sooner — really exposes the need to reform the system at all levels."

This month, the Education Department levied a $30-million fine against Corinthian's Heald College system, which operates primarily in California. The agency alleged that the company boosted official placement rates by paying temporary employment agencies to hire students for brief stints after graduation. Corinthian denied the allegations.

The higher placement rates, in addition to drawing new students, helped the college chain appease investors and retain eligibility for federal student aid.

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is calling on the federal government to forgive student loan debt for thousands of students who enrolled at schools run by Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges Inc.

California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris is calling on the federal government to forgive student loan debt for thousands of students who enrolled at schools run by Santa Ana-based Corinthian Colleges Inc. ( Chris Kirkham )

Higher education experts acknowledged that Corinthian's demise was imminent, but they questioned why federal education officials continued to allow many schools to enroll students until just before the final collapse.

"Once it became clear they had no future, they should have been making efforts to transfer students elsewhere," said Ben Miller, a former policy advisor in the Education Department who is a senior policy analyst at the New America Foundation in Washington.

Ted Mitchell, the U.S. undersecretary of education, said the department would work with Congress to "improve accountability and transparency in the career college industry."

 

By last fall, amid federal pressure, Corinthian had sold the majority of its schools to a nonprofit student loan servicer. But ongoing litigation with California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris and an investigation by the Education Department prevented the company from selling more than two dozen campuses in California and other Western states. The schools operated under the brands Everest, WyoTech and Heald.

Corinthian said in a news release Sunday that it failed to sell the remaining campuses because federal and state authorities were "seeking to impose financial penalties and conditions" that would affect potential buyers. California regulators this month also ordered Corinthian to stop enrolling new students because the company couldn't produce required financial documents.

The company said it had "ceased substantially all operations" in the release, but the company has not formally filed for bankruptcy.

The schools will close effective Monday. They include 13 Everest College and WyoTech campuses in California, along with 12 Heald College campuses in California, Hawaii and Oregon. Corinthian will also close Everest colleges in Phoenix and Rochester, N.Y., along with an online division in Tempe, Ariz.

Going forward, students face a choice: Try to transfer credits elsewhere — a difficult process — or get a discharge of federal student loans and start over at a new institution.

When a school shuts down suddenly, students are eligible for a full discharge of federal loan debt. Students at Corinthian schools that were sold last fall, however, do not have the same options, though a group of former Corinthian students and nine state attorneys general are pressuring the Education Department to offer loan forgiveness to all those affected.

For students such as Low, just a few months from graduation, the closure presented a frustrating predicament: Either start over from scratch, or go through the time-consuming process of transferring credits that may never be recognized by other institutions. The disgrace of the Corinthian chain won't help his cause.

One of Low's classmates at Everest College-Ontario, Rena Rivas, 25, is also just a few months away from graduating. She gave birth to a daughter in March and had to stop classes a few months earlier on orders from her doctor. Despite those complications, she said she was firmly committed to finishing her criminal justice degree this year.

Even if she gets her loans forgiven, she said she wouldn't be satisfied.

"The last two and a half years I spent going to that school — the trouble, the time, the money I spent on gas — I feel like it was a waste of time," said Nemer, who lives in Victorville, about 50 miles from the Ontario campus. "I'm pretty much at a complete loss right now. I'm not even sure what the next step is."

On Tuesday and Wednesday, staff from California's Department of Consumer Affairs will be holding sessions at some of the California campuses affected by the closure. Staff will be available at 13 Everest and WyoTech schools across the state, but not at Heald College campuses, which have different accreditation and aren't supervised by the agency.

Russ Heimerich, an agency spokesman, said staff would help students get proper paperwork to apply for loan discharges or to seek transfers.

Everest and WyoTech campuses have a nontraditional accreditation that applies mostly to career colleges, meaning it can be very difficult to transfer credits to community colleges or four-year institutions.

"Transferring credits from one private postsecondary school to another is almost always problematic," Heimerich said, "and it almost always doesn't happen."

Above is from:: Corinthian closing its last schools; 10,000 California students displaced - LA Times#page=1#page=1

Corinthian Colleges Shuts Down, Ending Classes for 16,000 Overnight

 

In what's believed to be the biggest shutdown in the history of higher education in the U.S., Corinthian Colleges said Sunday it's closing its remaining 28 for-profit schools effective immediately, kicking about 16,000 students out of school.

Corinthian, based in Santa Ana, California, said in a statement and an email to students that it would lean on government agencies and other institutions to place the students, who were enrolled at Heald College locations in California, Hawaii and Oregon and at Everest and WyoTech locations in California, Arizona and New York.

"It was very shocking to be told 'hey, tomorrow, no more school,'" Alexandra Roske, a student at Corinthian's Heald College in Salida, California, told NBC station KCRA of Sacramento on Sunday.

Corinthian Colleges Shuts Down, Ending Classes for 16,000 Overnight

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Adjunct Faculty Around the Country Join Fight for 15 Protests - Working In These Times

 

Earlier this year, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which backs both adjunct and fast-food worker organizing, announced a new campaign called “Faculty Forward,” which will demand a minimum compensation of $15,000 per college course taught, plus benefits. That would be a staggering increase over adjuncts’ current median pay of just $2,700 per course nationwide, but it complements the bold demand of a $15 minimum wage that fast-food workers have been advancing since 2012.

“This is the time to be heard for all low-wage workers,” said Alyson Paige Warren, an adjunct who has worked at Loyola University Chicago and other Chicago-area schools for 12 years, sometimes making as little as $100 per weekly class.

Chicago is one of the most recent cities where SEIU is hoping to organize adjuncts citywide, following considerable success in the Boston, San Francisco and Washington, DC metro areas. While the city’s major public school and several community colleges already have active faculty unions, there are approximately 8,000 part-time and contingent faculty members across the city that remain non-unionized, including at private universities such as Loyola and DePaul.

Ahead of yesterday’s main Fight for 15 protest in Chicago, a group of about 50 adjuncts, students and full-time faculty supporters rallied at Loyola on the city’s far North Side. Carrying signs that read, “Invest in instruction, fight for $15K” and “No more profs in poverty,” the group marched across campus before boarding buses to join an estimated 6,000 demonstrators calling for a living wage.

The group of adjuncts also delivered a petition with 500 signatures to Loyola administrators, urging them to live up to the school’s Jesuit values of social justice by granting instructors fair benefits, fair wages and the right to unionize. Adjuncts at Loyola are not formally demanding $15,000 a course, but they say their current rate of between $4,000 and $4,500 isn’t enough to make ends meet.

They’re not alone. A study released this week by the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education finds that a full 25 percent of part-time college professors rely on some form of public assistance to supplement their wages. That’s not as high at the 48 percent of homecare workers who received assistance from programs including Medicaid, food stamps, welfare payments or the Earned Income Tax Credit, or the 52 percent of fast-food workers who do so. But it’s a stunning statistic that flies in the face of the assumption that higher education is a path to prosperity.

Paige Warren believes that it’s also a basis for solidarity with other workers, something that adjuncts are increasingly attuned to. “If someone who serves my coffee before I go to teach my students is struggling to make ends meet,” she said, “it’s my job to be concerned about his plight, just as he should be about mine.”…

Read the entire article by clicking on the following:  Adjunct Faculty Around the Country Join Fight for 15 Protests - Working In These Times

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How does Dr. Houselog’s W-2 compare to yours?

Well thanks to a Freedom of Information Request from Mrs. Wang we all can know.  In case many questioned why the figure is not larger—the Board of Education pays his Teacher’s Retirement.

Below is from:  http://www.boarddocs.com/il/district100/Board.nsf/files/9UYL4G549E55/$file/FOIA%20Rqt%20of%203.24.15.pdf

 

image

To see the larger figures with teacher retirement and benefits go to:  http://district100watchdog.blogspot.com/2014/10/teachers-and-administrators-salaries.html  or http://www.district100.com/District/Business%20Office/Collective%20Bargaining%20Contracts/2014-15%20Teacher%20and%20Administrator%20Salary%20Compensation%20Report.pdf

Friday, April 24, 2015

Marion Superintendent candidates: Finances, new programs among top challenges for Marion Independent | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather

Will Dr. Houselog be picked?

MARION — Managing a tight budget and dealing with changes in education and student demographics are among the top challenges to be faced by the next Marion Independent School District superintendent, two candidates for the position said Thursday.

The two finalists announced this week — Joseph Dyer of the Tuckahoe Common School District in Southampton, N.Y., and Michael Houselog of the Belvidere Community Unit School District No. 100 in Belvidere, Ill. — interviewed Thursday with the Marion school board, administrators, teachers, students, support staff and community members.

In the community interviews, five parents and businesspeople said they are looking for a clear vision from the new superintendent. Some said they are unclear on the district’s long-term plans are now.

The district has been searching for a new superintendent since Superintendent Sarah Pinion announced her retirement in January. Pinion has led Marion schools since 2009. Her last day is June 30.

Dyer and Houselog both said they are interested in the Marion job because of its location, citing family connections. Dyer said he likes the somewhat closed-in nature of the Marion community. Houselog said he hopes to be closer to his family, including two children and his mother, who live in Iowa.

The candidates would bring a variety of experience to Marion. Dyer implemented a pre-kindergarten program and related professional development programs in his current district to help address deficiencies in young students’ reading ability, he said.

“This is a national issue,” Dyer said. “This is not just Tuckahoe.”

Houselog cited a dual-credit program with a college near his district — in which some students get a high school diploma and an associate’s degree at the same time — as one successful initiative he has implemented. He also pointed to his leadership in the establishment of a STEM school and a dual-language program in Belvidere.

Both candidates said managing finances is among the top challenges schools will face in the next five years.

“As bad as things are in Iowa in school funding, it looks really, really good to me,” Houselog said, comparing Iowa’s state funding for schools to Illinois.

Colette Atkins, a parent in the district, said finances have been a problem in Marion schools.

“We need to manage our money better to allow our kids to excel,” Atkins said. “We’re not doing that in this district.”

Dyer also said teacher burnout has been a problem in his district, in part because of New York’s implementation of the Common Core and related teacher-evaluation measures.

Both candidates said they would spend the first part of their time as superintendent listening to community desires and concerns.

Houselog said he sensed an “appetite” for trying new things from the interviews with district parents and businesspeople.

“Marion is in a position because of its size and because of the community to really do some great things educationally,” said Doreen Zumwalt, a Marion graduate and parent. “I’m glad to hear that you’re picking up (on that).”

Dyer and some of the businesspeople said schools also could work with businesses to provide career and technical education.

The school board was scheduled to meet in closed session Thursday night to interview and discuss the candidates. David Law, the board president, said this week that the board hoped to have a verbal commitment from a candidate Thursday night or Friday morning and announce the next superintendent Monday or Tuesday after the candidate has signed.

Marion Superintendent candidates: Finances, new programs among top challenges for Marion Independent | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

State board of education member resigns over superintendent hire - Chicago Tribune

James Baumann, a key member of the Illinois State Board of Education, formally resigned this week, citing concerns about the unusual

the new state school superintendent was chosen.

There was no national search and only one candidate, he said.

"I had wished there was a more robust process, both on the front end and the back end," Baumann told the Tribune.

"It's just healthy to have a robust process. It is in everybody's best interest, including the person who ends up with the job."

Tony Smith — a charismatic but sometimes unpopular leader who closed struggling public schools, butted heads with teachers unions and created more privately run charter schools in California — was hired Wednesday as Illinois' new state school superintendent. ( Diane Rado and Jessie Hellmann )

A former president and CEO of the Follett Higher Education Group, Baumann had been chair of the finance and audit committee on the state board, and his term wasn't up until January 2017.

In previous years, the state board has used search firms and conducted a national search for the state's top school leader, records show.

Current state Supt. Christopher Koch, for example, was hired after a national search, as was one of his predecessors, Robert Schiller.

Even local boards often hire search firms and vet a number of candidates before picking a superintendent, Baumann noted.

But this time around, there was only one candidate — former Oakland, Calif., superintendent Tony Smith, who has ties to Gov. Bruce Rauner. The governor doesn't hire the state school superintendent but he appoints members to ISBE, an independent board. Rauner recently appointed five new board members — a majority of the nine-member board.

 

 

"The law dictates when the superintendent's contract expires and allows the Governor to make a recommendation. Governor Rauner made a recommendation and the Board chose to go with that recommendation," ISBE spokeswoman Mary Fergus wrote in an email. The board could have conducted a national search, but declined to do so.

Smith was hired by the board Wednesday to oversee the state's school system, effective May 1. The vote was unanimous — 8-0, but the 9th board member, Baumann, was missing, with nothing mentioned about his whereabouts.

In fact, Baumann said he had already decided to resign April 6 — a few days after the state board met behind closed doors to discuss personnel matters, presumably about hiring a new superintendent. He said he notified the board of his intention to resign but was told he had to write a formal letter. He did so the day before the meeting at which the board voted on Smith's hire.

The April 14 resignation letter, written to Rauner, stated: "It has been my honor and pleasure to serve as a member of the Illinois State Board of Education but I have decided to tender my resignation effective immediately."

He added: "Wishing you all the very best of success in providing every child the opportunity to realize his/her full learning and human potential."

Baumann said he respects board members and wishes them the best. "The board can do whatever it wanted, and the board chose to do this. There's nothing wrong with (what) they did," Baumann said.

Still, he believes the board's action may have set a precedent, "where now every time you have a new governor and a new party, you'll get a new superintendent. Stability is good if you have a competent superintendent."

State board of education member resigns over superintendent hire - Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Northern District of Illinois

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 21, 2015

Former North Chicago School Board Member Sentenced
To 30 Months In Federal Prison For Bus Contracts Fraud Scheme

CHICAGO ― A former North Chicago school board member, and the last defendant of five,  was sentenced today to 30 months in federal prison for receiving at least $566,000 in kickbacks from three co-defendants who controlled several different transportation companies that received more than $21 million in student bus contracts over nearly a decade.

The defendant, ALICE SHERROD, 63, of North Chicago, pleaded guilty in September 2013 to one count each of wire fraud and filing a false federal income tax return. Sherrod admitted that between 2001 and 2010 she schemed to deprive the approximately 4,000-student North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 (NCSD) of her honest services. Sherrod, who was the school district’s Director of Transportation, participated in the fraud scheme with four co-defendants, including Gloria Harper, who was the former President of the North Chicago school board. The three co-defendants funneled kickbacks totaling at least $800,000 to Harper and Sherrod and made more than $9.6 million in profits.

“Unlike three of her co-defendants, she was in a position of public trust that affected poor children.  She did not think about who she was hurting.  And this went on for more than five years.”  U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman said in imposing the sentence today.  Judge Coleman ordered Sherrod to serve her sentence beginning August 31, 2015.  The judge also ordered Sherrod to pay approximately $7.2 million in restitution.

“The North Chicago School District has one of the highest low-income populations in the state. But rather than looking out for the interests of the district’s taxpayers and the children who depended on the schools for education, Sherrod selfishly used her position to enrich herself, and then filed false tax returns,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Getter argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.

All five defendants pled guilty last year and have been sentenced.  In addition to Sherrod’s sentence of 30 months imposed today, Gloria Harper, 64, of Berwyn and formerly of Gurnee, received a 10 year sentence, Tommie Boddie, 69, of Harvest, Ala., and formerly of Wadsworth received a one-day term of imprisonment followed by a three year term of supervised release including nine months’ home confinement; Derrick Eubanks, 50, of Lake Villa received six months’ imprisonment; and Barrett White, 55, of Matteson, received a one day term of imprisonment followed by a one year term of supervised release during which White will spend the first six months of supervised release serving weekend imprisonment.  

Sherrod, who was District 187's transportation director from 2001 to July 2010, used her  position, along with Harper, to enrich themselves secretly by soliciting and accepting gifts and cash from their three co-defendants in exchange for favorable official action regarding student transportation contracts. Initially, Harper and Sherrod received kickbacks of approximately $4,000 to $5,000 a month but, by 2003, they were collecting approximately $20,000 a month.

From the late 1990s until mid-2003, the NCSD contracted with various companies to provide student transportation, including T&M Transportation, which was owned in part and controlled by Boddie, and Eubanks Transportation, which was owned in part and controlled by Eubanks. In 2001, Harper and Sherrod met with Boddie and agreed they would arrange for the NCSD to increase the number of students that T&M transported in exchange for kickback payments.

In May 2003, Harper suggested to Boddie and Eubanks that they join together to form one company ― Safety First Transportation, Inc., which won the NCSD’s transportation contract in 2003, and Harper, Sherrod, Boddie, and Eubanks agreed that they would split the profits from the contract. After an IRS audit of Safety First in 2006-2007, White, who had been acting as the “bagman” for the kickbacks, began receiving funds from Safety First as both an employee and a contractor, even though he provided little service other than being the bagman.

In April 2008, the defendants agreed to set up a new company, Quality Trans, LLC, to replace Safety First and to assume its contracts with the school district. All five agreed to continue splitting profits from Quality Trans, and Boddie, Eubanks and White continued making cash payments to Harper and Sherrod.

The sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Robert J. Holley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Stephen Boyd, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The North Chicago School District cooperated with the investigation.

USDOJ: US Attorney's Office - Northern District of Illinois

Marion school district announces two superintendent finalists | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather

Dr. Houselog is looking again.

MARION — The Marion Independent School District on Monday announced two finalists for its superintendent position.

Joseph Dyer, a superintendent in Southampton, N.Y., and Michael Houselog, a superintendent in Belvidere, Ill., are the two final candidates, the district said.

Marion this year has been searching for a replacement for current superintendent Sarah Pinion, who will retire June 30. She has led Marion schools since 2009.

Ray and Associates, the firm hired to lead the search, received 46 applications and presented 11 to the Marion school board, said board president David Law. The board chose five to interview via Skype, he said.

Dyer and Houselog will be in Marion Thursday, Law said, for in-person interviews with the board, administrators, students, faculty, support staff and community members.

The board will decide on a candidate Thursday night and hopes to have a verbal commitment from the candidate that night or Friday morning, Law said. He added that he hopes to get a signed contract and announce the next superintendent on Monday or Tuesday.

Dyer has been the superintendent of the Tuckahoe Common School District in Southampton since 2010. He previously was a superintendent in Pennsylvania and earned a doctor of education degree from Virginia Tech University.

Dyer planned to leave the Tuckahoe district last year for a superintendent position in the Susquehanna Valley Central School District, also in New York, according to an October report from the Southampton Press and a release from the Susquehanna district.

The Susquehanna district later hired a different superintendent. Law said the Marion board did not “delve into” that situation in considering Dyer.

“We did not feel it had a great deal of bearing on our situation,” Law said.

“My hope is to serve where educational needs are a professional match with my skills as an educational leader,” said a statement from Dyer. “I highly regard the excellence and community pride that are characteristics of Marion Independent School District and am honored to be considered for the position of superintendent.”

Houselog has been the superintendent of the Belvidere Community Unit School District #100 since 2007. He previously was a superintendent at two other Illinois districts.

Houselog earned a doctor of education degree from Aurora University. He also has earned an education specialist degree from Drake University and a bachelor’s degree from Loras College.

Houselog previously was a candidate for Iowa superintendent positions in the Johnston, Southeast Polk and Dubuque districts, according to media reports and the Southeast Polk district. He has two adult children who live in Iowa, according to a news release from the Marion district.

“The Marion superintendency provides a rare opportunity for me to share my successes I’ve had in Belvidere and other locations,” said a statement from Houselog. “I am highly motivated to relocate my wife and younger children to Marion. Upon researching your school district during the past few weeks, I’ve concluded that my skill set could likely be a great match for the superintendent of schools position for Marion Independent.”

Dyer and Houselog did not return requests for comment Monday afternoon. The Marion district did not make available a schedule of the Thursday interviews.

Marion school district announces two superintendent finalists | KCRG-TV9 | Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather

Sunday, April 19, 2015

College of DuPage under federal investigation - Chicago Tribune

 

n a sign of intensifying scrutiny of the College of DuPage, federal prosecutors have opened a wide-ranging criminal investigation at the embattled community college, issuing two subpoenas this week that seek documents tied to spending and other matters, according to records obtained late Wednesday.

The subpoenas, which were served to college administrators Monday, cover three main areas: administrator expenses, contracts with the college's fundraising foundation and credits awarded to police recruits at a law enforcement academy on the Glen Ellyn campus.

College of DuPage under federal investigation, local and state investigation continues

College of DuPage under federal investigation, local and state investigation continues

Federal authorities are demanding records from the College of DuPage, including those regarding the $800,000 severence package for outgoing President Robert Breuder. (WGN)

Federal authorities are demanding records from the College of DuPage, including those regarding the $800,000 severence package for outgoing President Robert Breuder. (WGN)

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The subpoenas come as the publicly funded college has been grappling with tough questions about spending and financial oversight, including the awarding of one of the largest severance packages ever to a public employee in Illinois to its president, Robert Breuder.

The school released the subpoenas in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Chicago Tribune.

"The College of DuPage and the College of DuPage Foundation are confident in the proper conduct of their affairs and will fully cooperate with any government investigation," said Randall Samborn, who has been hired to handle crisis communications for the school.

The subpoenas, from a federal grand jury, present the state's largest community college with new legal and public relations problems. They follow a Tribune investigation that raised questions about everything from the spending of top administrators at the campus's high-end restaurant to the decision to give additional academic credits in a program without increasing the amount of training.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon declined to comment Wednesday.

The federal inquiry adds to investigations by DuPage County prosecutors as well as state education officials.

A DuPage County grand jury issued two subpoenas in early February, two weeks after the college's board of trustees awarded Breuder a $763,000 severance package to end his contract next year, three years early. A third subpoena was issued March 19.

Federal subpoenas sent to College of DuPage

Federal subpoenas sent to College of DuPageRead the story

The federal subpoenas request many of the records sought by DuPage prosecutors. Federal investigators have asked for employment records, expense reports and conflict-of-interest statements for Breuder, all senior managers and trustees.

The federal investigation also seeks records relating to the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy. The Tribune recently reported that the college increased the number of credits given to recruits in the training program without increasing the amount of instruction — a change that boosted enrollment figures and led one top official at the police academy to question "the integrity of this process" before he resigned late last year. The revelation upset the school's faculty union, which said the change should not have been made without consulting the campus's curriculum committee.

School officials defended the increase, saying it brought the program in line with credit hours offered at other schools and did not need the curriculum committee's approval. They denied it had any connection to Breuder's well-publicized efforts to break the school's all-time enrollment record.

Both the DuPage and federal grand juries also sought Breuder-related employment agreements, contracts and other documents tied to his tenure. The federal subpoenas also asked for information about Breuder's college-issued credit cards, reimbursements and house accounts. The Tribune has reported that Breuder and his top administrators charged to house accounts about $190,000 at the campus's Waterleaf restaurant over the past three years, often drinking pricey wine and Champagne.

Read more by clicking on the following: College of DuPage under federal investigation - Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America - NYTimes.com

 

Teach for America, the education powerhouse that has sent thousands of handpicked college graduates to teach in some of the nation’s most troubled schools, is suddenly having recruitment problems.

For the second year in a row, applicants for the elite program have dropped, breaking a 15-year growth trend. Applications are down by about 10 percent from a year earlier on college campuses around the country as of the end of last month.

The group, which has sought to transform education in close alignment with the charter school movement, has advised schools that the size of its teacher corps this fall could be down by as much as a quarter and has closed two of its eight national summer training sites, in New York City and Los Angeles

Read the entire article by clicking on the following:  Fewer Top Graduates Want to Join Teach for America - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New St. Charles school board tasked with finding new superintendent - DailyHerald.com

 

With St. Charles Unit District Superintendent Don Schlomann retiring in two years, the three school board members elected April 7 will be part of the group that hires Schlomann's replacement.

The nine candidates for the three seats have opposing views on the relationship between Schlomann and the board, and the qualities his successor must possess. Candidates provided input on the selection process during an interview and forum last week.

Incumbent Kathy Hewell and former school board member Lori Linkimer both had hands in selecting Schlomann to lead the district about eight years ago. They agreed the new superintendent should have many of Schlomann's qualities and a similar relationship with the school board.

"Dr. Schlomann is a very strong leader," Hewell said.

She said Schlomann's financial knowledge, his ability to advocate for the district with state officials and his track record of keeping technology up to date in the district all are skills his successor should have. Hewell said the next superintendent will also, ideally, have had experience as a school principal, which would indicate an understanding of how to work with parents, teachers and administrators.

Well-rounded skills are important because a school board that micromanages the superintendent can create a toxic atmosphere, she said.

"I am not an educator," Hewell said. "I rely on the expertise that (the superintendent) has. When a board starts micromanaging, the board loses that superintendent, and they will not get the superintendent they want in the future."

Linkimer said the next superintendent must be a "visionary" who can see obstacles coming before they arrive. She will seek a "natural born leader" with honesty and integrity. Linkimer agrees with Hewell that there should not be an adversarial relationship between the board and superintendent.

"We certainly don't want a board who is a rubber stamp," Linkimer said. "No good superintendent wants that. But we should be seeking answers rather than demanding them. You want a transparent board, but you don't want a board that is nitpicking the superintendent's every decision."

But Rick Leidig said there are decisions Schlomann was involved in that are worthy of major criticism. That includes the transformation of Davis and Richmond elementary schools into grade-level centers when the district faced serious No Child Left Behind consequences.

Leidig said the superintendent is the "mayor of the school district." He wants a successor who either has or has had kids in the district's schools.

"If you bring someone in from within our community, it adds a level of social accountability," Leidig said.

He also promised to push for a lower salary and elimination of side benefits that have become somewhat common for suburban school superintendents.

Incumbent Judith McConnell said Schlomann, the current school board and the teachers union have too many connections for her liking. Her campaign literature advertises her as proudly not endorsed by the union.

"I would like to see a superintendent who keeps his distance from the union," McConnell said. "The union should be represented. That's a very reasonable thing. But this community is being run by the union. Not good. This school board does not direct Dr. Schlomann, and that bothers me."

Challenger Jennifer Reeder said the next superintendent must be willing to stand up to state education officials and provide some follow-through on the board's existing resolution decrying federal Common Core rules and the implementation of the related PARCC testing.

Bucking those mandates will require much dialogue between the superintendent and community, she said. She favors expanding opportunities to get input from the community, including allowing residents to Skype or call in to board meetings.

"We need to know what the community wants," Reeder said. "Parents are upset about the decisions that this school board is making. They're not listening. We need leadership, follow through, communication and transparency from our superintendent."

Challenger Lowell Yarusso agreed the next superintendent will be expected to stand up against local unions and politicians if the new school board sets directions and goals that include such stances. Yarusso said the district does a poor job now of setting a high performance standard with measurable goals.

"What doesn't work is to say we'd like to get better, and we'd like our taxes to not increase too much, and we'd like everyone to be happy," Yarusso said. "We say we didn't spend too much more than the average of the state, and we got a little bit better test scores than the state. So you're mediocre and average, and you're touting that?"

Yarusso wants a superintendent with a track record of competence in the education field and a history of success in performing tasks similar to what a school superintendent must do. He views the superintendent as a CEO and the school board as the board of directors for the district.

That said, Yarusso doesn't want a superintendent is who is just looking to make a big splash and jump to a larger school district.

Incumbent Nick Manheim agreed that he's not interested in hiring someone seeking to catalyze a career.

"We need someone who is invested in our community," Manheim said. "We need someone who is proactive instead of reactive. There are a lot of issues that are going to occur in our district in the next five to 10 years. We want someone who is ready to lead."

There are nine candidates running for three seats on the school board. Former school board member Mike Vyzral and challenger Stephen Bruesewitz are also on the ballot. Vyzral could not be reached for comment. He did not attend the forum or endorsement interview. Bruesewitz is not actively campaigning.

New St. Charles school board tasked with finding new superintendent - DailyHerald.com