Despite rumors, SD 227 Supt. Leak stays on job
BY STEVE METSCH firstname.lastname@example.org May 17, 2013 11:14PM
Rich Township High School District 227 Supt. Donna Leak takes in Friday night's special board meeting from a seat near the back of the room at the district administration center in Matteson. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 20, 2013 4:32PM
Supporters and detractors of Rich Township High School District 227 Supt. Donna Leak took turns trading verbal shots for nearly three hours Friday night at a special board meeting, but in the end not much was resolved.
A large crowd attended the meeting amid speculation that the new school board majority would fire Leak, a rumor fueled by emails around the District 227 community this past week. But that proved unfounded, at least for now.
Leak’s job status may still be uncertain in light of a cryptic reference on the meeting agenda to two employees, identified only as Employe A and Employee B.
It appears that Employee B may have been dismissed on Friday — no one was saying anything publicly — and that Employee A will have a hearing before the board at 5 p.m. May 28. The board met Friday night for an hour in closed session to discuss both employees but members had no comment on the strange situation.
Leak also declined to identify Employees A and B, but a source said the May 28 hearing will be regarding a recent hire and potential mistakes made in that person’s contract.
In another unusual development, board president Cheryl Coleman decided to not have Leak sit with the board at the meeting. Leak opted for a chair at the back of the room, perhaps symbolically showing the growing distance between herself and the new board majority elected April 9.
The board, by a 4-3 vote, did approve a change in which the district’s human resources department will report directly to the board rather than to Leak’s office. Critics said that will lessen the superintendent’s duties, but Coleman said it will streamline procedures.
After the meeting, Leak insisted she has no concerns regarding her job.
“I’ve done a good job, and I’ve had excellent evaluations,” said Leak, whose $200,000-a-year contract does not expire until June 30, 2017. “I know I’ve done a yeoman’s job in providing support for young people.”
Some residents at the meeting ripped the board majority — Coleman, Antoine Bass, David Morgan and Delores Woods — accusing it of having a vendetta against Leak.
Others spoke highly of her and applauded when former board president Betty Owens had a heated exchange with Coleman about Leak not sitting with the board as usual.
Near the end of a free-wheeling public comment period of the meeting that lasted more than 2.5 hours, with strong criticism and defense of Leak, District 227 resident Fred Veazey said, “this has to be the craziest board meeting I ever attended, and I’ve attended some crazy ones.”