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District 111 superintendent given 90-day notice

MINOOKA – Minooka High School District 111 Superintendent Jim Colyott’s fate with the district was sealed during a special meeting Friday when board of education members voted unanimously to approve a unilateral 90-day termination notice.

A packed board room, consisting mainly of teachers, some bus drivers and a handful of community members, waited over an hour for the board to return from closed executive session.

Following the 7-0 vote, the majority of the audience broke into applause and cheers.

Board member Karen Buchanan said she voted in favor of termination because it was in the best interest of students and the community. She said she hoped the best for Colyott and his family.

Teacher’s union president Dennis Grosskopf, following the meeting, said the vote to terminate brought relief because the fear of job loss was so great among teachers.

During public comments before the vote, Grosskopf addressed the board of education, saying working conditions under Colyott included bullying, intimidation and emotional abuse.

“Our working conditions are our children’s learning environment,” he told board members. “Will you protect our children, our assets, with your vote?”

Two people spoke publicly in support of Colyott. Dewitt Buchanan, husband of board member Karen Buchanan, ran through a list of accomplishments that Colyott had achieved during his time with the district, including increasing test scores for students and reducing the district’s budget.

“He has been targeted by a select few who were attempting to undermine him,” Dewitt Buchanan said. “[This is] not because of a performance issue. It’s because he isn’t popular.”

Following the meeting, Board of Education President Mike Brozovich said he didn’t wish to comment about the vote at the time, adding that a statement will be forthcoming.

In a statement received by email shortly after the meeting, Colyott outlined his achievements, including increasing the district’s school ranking from 206th out of 689 in 2011 to 93rd in 2013, maintaining excellent financial ratings during difficult financial times and successfully negotiating a contract with the teacher’s union, among other things.

Colyott’s contract with District 111 allows the board to unilaterally terminate his contract with a minimum of 90 days notice without cause. He will be given all of the aggregate compensation and cash value of fringe benefits through the termination date.

“I respect the decision that the Board of Education has made to unilaterally terminate my employment contract and will, of course, proceed as the board directs for the remaining 90 days of my employment,” Colyott said in the statement.

“I very much appreciate the opportunity [that] Minooka community has provided to my family and I, and I am incredibly proud of all that the MCHS students, staff and I have accomplished together these past three years.”

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