Growing Facebook group calls for Sheffield’s resignation
Updated Dec. 19, 2009 at 3:05 p.m.
By Jim Hagerty
More than 1,000 people have joined a Facebook “fan” page named “Wanting a Resignation of LaVonne Sheffield.”
Members of the page, many claiming to be District 205 students, have posted several messages, most of which express opinions about why they feel Sheffield should step down as superintendent.
One post invites citizens to gather at district headquarters, 201 S. Madison St., Monday, Dec. 21, to protest for Sheffield’s resignation.
The post reads: “Anyone who wants to make a difference, show up at 201 S. Madison (Rockford Board of Education) at 12:00 p.m., with signs of resignation, while the 4 Auburn High School students are inside.”
Four Auburn students are scheduled to meet with Superintendent Sheffield Monday to discuss concerns, most notably those relating to the removal of former Auburn Principal Dr. Richard Jancek. More than 300 students staged a walkout Wednesday, Dec. 16, a day after Jancek’s ouster was announced.
The protest was later moved to Madison Street, where several students held signs indicating support for Jancek.
Tuesday, Dec. 15, Sheffield announced at a packed school board meeting Jancek and former West Middle School Principal Thomas Schmitt would be removed from their posts the following day. Reports say both will be offered other jobs within the district.
Although at least one “Wanting a Resignation of LaVonne Sheffield” post claims the Facebook page is run by a student, others have become “fans” and expressed their desire that the Rockford Board of Education replace Dr. Sheffield with a better candidate.
Karen King, a parent of an Auburn student, has joined the Facebook cause and feels Sheffield should either be fired or resign to make way for a district leader with local ties.
“They keep bringing in people from out of town,” King said. “To them, it’s only about their job and how to use Rockford for a year or two as a stepping stone to better opportunities.”
King said she also is dissatisfied with Sheffield’s explanations that recent violent incidents inside four schools were isolated and not necessarily part of a larger, ongoing problem.
“I don’t buy it. There is a problem, and I think it’s a problem with school leadership,” King added. “I haven’t had any problems at Auburn until now. The board needs to find somebody else.”
King also noted Dr. Sheffield’s seeming inability to be reached outside of scheduled board meetings.
“She can’t be reached,” King said. “She’s out of town. She’s supposed to be a leader, and the current situation shows a lack of control and I don’ t think (Superintendent Sheffield) is effective.”
Sheffield was scheduled to appear as a guest on 1330 WNTA yesterday (Thursday, Dec. 17,) from 10 to 11 a.m. According to host Ken DeCoster, the station was told the superintendent was dealing with an emergency personal matter and would not be on the show. In her place, Executive Director of Schools Earl Hernandez, Board of Education President David Kelley and Chief Communications Officer Mark Bonne fielded questions from DeCoster and listeners.
Sheffield also postponed a Thursday, Dec. 17, media roundtable, where members of the media were scheduled to meet the superintendent to address communication issues. That meeting has been re-scheduled for Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, at the Rockford Register Star news tower.
King said she favors increased police presence in the schools and the use of metal detectors, something she has contacted school board officials about. According to King, who says she’s “very concerned” about the safety of schools, she wasn’t given any answers as to what immediate actions to increase security will be taken.
Although the use of metal detectors in Rockford schools has been discussed in the past, it likely won’t be formally brought to the table by the Board of Education until January 2010 or later.
King said she won’t join Monday’s protest because of a prior engagement, but will keep calling for Sheffield’s removal via Facebook.
Click here to visit the Facebook page.
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