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D-54 board approves retirements, resignations in personnel shakeup

MORRIS – Morris Grade School District 54 board members have approved the retirement of art teacher Joan Workman, as well as six staff resignations and the employment of two teachers and eight support personnel.

The staff resigned for various reasons, including continuing education, the need for a full-time position and for jobs closer to home.

The board accepted the personnel changes by a vote of 4-2, with Dave Obrochta absent and Bonnie Cap and Jerry White voting no.

During discussion, Cap said she had an issue with the art teacher position.

“I have a problem with the art position and the posting of the position,” Cap said. “I was called by a member of the community, and I checked for the posting every day and it was not there.”

Cap said she emailed Board President Scot Hastings with her concerns, but did not get a satisfactory response from him.

Superintendent Teri Shaw said Hastings asked her for proof of the date the job was posted online. She responded with a computer screenshot of the web page the district posts the information on, which shows a posting date of July 29, 2014.

That’s two days before the formal letter from Joan Workman announcing her intent to retire before the school year.

Cap said the screenshot did not meet her expectations, since anyone could fill out that portion and take a screenshot. It did not guarantee an actual online posting.

“I believe it is a legal issue, and I don’t think any board member should vote on this tonight,” Cap said.

Caroline Cummings told Cap she believed the school board meeting was not the place to get a problem solved and suggested that if Hastings didn’t answer Cap to her satisfaction, she should have called Shaw personally.

Shaw said in a phone interview Tuesday that she gave Hastings what she was asked for and if she knew it wasn’t to Cap’s satisfaction, she could have been prepared to show the entire board the whole process.

“We received 18 outside applications,” Shaw said. “You don’t get 18 applications without posting the job.”

Shaw said the school district often posts a job opening as soon as officials know it’s going to happen, especially in the late summer months, so they have time to interview and have someone in place when the school year starts.

“It was a heavy accusation and unfounded,” Shaw said. “It was uncalled for, inappropriate and unnecessary.”

Shaw said she spoke with the board’s attorney Tuesday morning; the attorney’s office did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

White made an appointment to meet with district Principal Chris Maier on Tuesday and saw the online application process as well as the posting history and a list of applicants.

“I didn’t doubt that Mr. Maier posted it,” White said. “I voted no because I was unhappy with other board members’ reactions. I should have abstained.”

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