SD 227 strips principal of his duties
By Casey Toner email@example.com January 20, 2011 9:24PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
A Rich Township High School District 227 administrator, who is suing the district and was at the center of a monthslong controversy after a photo of him was burned at a party attended by Rich Central staff, has been stripped of his duties as principal.
District 227 Supt. Dr. Donna Simpson Leak said Thursday she met with alternative school Principal Maceo Rainey at his office at Rich South High School and told him he no longer would be working as principal.
Rainey will continue to make his principal’s salary until his resignation takes effect June 30. He submitted a letter of resignation to the board in December. Debra Nicholson will take over as the alternative school principal, Leak said.
Leak said Rainey will work on yet-to-be-determined projects she assigns him and will not work on district property. She would not comment on the reason for the reassignment.
Rainey’s demotion comes less than a month after he filed a federal lawsuit against the district, claiming it should pay for an attorney he hired to represent him in a separate lawsuit.
Rainey is a defendant in the other federal lawsuit, filed by former Rich Central assistant girls basketball coach Fred Jacobeit against the district and Rainey in July 2009.
Jacobeit, who is white, alleged in the lawsuit that he was a victim of racial discrimination and that a violation of due process took place when Rainey removed him from the coaching position. Jacobeit was the assistant girls coach from Oct. 29 to Nov. 13, 2007, when the job was rescinded, according to court records. The job later was offered to a black woman, who declined it.
According to court documents, Rainey, who is black, removed Jacobeit from the post because he heard Jacobeit was “racially insensitive” to blacks on a boys basketball team he previously coached.
Rainey and the district were to be represented in the Jacobeit case by the law firm of Scariano, Himes and Petrarca, as assigned by the district’s insurer, Indiana Insurance.
According to Rainey’s lawsuit, Rainey met with Leak in October and told her he wanted to hire Crystal Lake-based attorney Jerome M. Davis to represent him in the Jacobeit case because of “serious conflicts of interest” involving Scariano, Himes and Petrarca. At the time, Scariano, Himes and Petrarca also were conducting the district’s investigation into the incident in which Rainey’s picture was burned at a party.
That investigation resulted in Rich Central dean Helga Spoolstra, who threw the party, being suspended for three days, a punishment Rainey thought was too light.
“Rainey didn’t feel that firm could zealously represent him, and he’s entitled to zealous, undivided representation by his counsel,” Davis said.
In November, Indiana Insurance removed Scariano’s firm as Rainey and the district’s counsel in the Jacobeit lawsuit because of the conflict of interest, according to court records. The insurance company assigned attorney Jeff Taylor from the Spesia and Ayers law firm to take over.
Rainey wanted Davis to defend him in the lawsuit, but Indiana Insurance sent Davis a letter Jan. 3 saying the district would not pay for him to represent Rainey. Rainey has refused Taylor’s counsel, and Taylor said Wednesday he is representing only District 227 in the Jacobeit case.
Leak said the district is not required to pay legal bills from Rainey’s preferred attorney.
“That would not be the most prudent measure,” Leak said. “Part of the reason we have insurance is so that law firms that are consistently serving school districts keep their prices at a competitive rate to ensure we’re getting good representation at a price that spares the taxpayers.”
Rainey declined to comment.
The District 227 electoral board on Wednesday removed Eddie Fischer, Komaa Mnyofu and incumbent Jacqueline Upshaw from the ballot for the April 5 election because of problems with their nominating petitions and statements of candidacy. There are nine candidates left for three open seats: Incumbents Tony Brunson and Emmanuel Imoukhuede and challengers Gail Burks, Cheryl Coleman, Reginald Ford, Constance Means, Shapell Smith, Shelia Whorton and Delores Woods.
Contributing: Sarah Zylstra