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Letter to Dr. LaVonne Sheffield From Sara Bowers
Editor’s note: This writer sent a letter to District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne Sheffield March 27, 2010. She chose to share it with our readers.
I am writing in protest and in concern. I understand that my e-mail will have little or no weight on you or in your decision-making process; however, I have a voice that I would like to be heard.
My son Matthew is a first-grader at Jackson Elementary School. I am the PTO secretary and a very involved parent. I am very disheartened by your decision making in our district over the last week. I am even more upset that you have been less than transparent in all of your statements and in your administration since its inception. I feel that you have been less than honest, and when I hear you speak, I feel as if you are dancing in circles around the issues in an attempt to distract people from what is really going on. I don’t see you as the No. 1 advocate for our kids; I see you as having your top priority as federal and state funding and money. I don’t honestly see you as genuine or as caring. You have not come across as warm or inviting; you seem cold, condescending and standoffish. Both you and your administration’s presence have come in like a steam roller and a wrecking crew in District 205.
Our Principal Dave Molck called me on Thursday evening to let me know that he will no longer be our principal next year. In fact, that he will no longer be in the building next year at all. I cannot even tell you how devastating this is to me as well as to my son. When Matthew found out about it, he actually sobbed. What I don’t think you understand is that we are a family at Jackson! The staff, the parents, the students, we are all a family. You have managed to tear apart our family. I don’t know that any explanation that you could give me, test scores or whatever host of excuses that you have, would ever justify this decision.
Dave has been in our building for over 20 years. He knows every (and yes, I mean every) child by name. He is the leader of our children’s home away from home. Dave is the perfect combination of grace and authority rolled into one. Every child in that school loves Mr. Molck. My 4-year-old (who isn’t even in school yet) loves Mr. Molck. I am devastated that you have robbed my children of one of the greatest experiences that they could ever have by removing Dave and other staff from our school. I would understand if our school was in shambles, discipline issues on the rise, low staff morale, etc… but it’s not. Dave has done fantastic things in our building. We have an established PTO this year… the first year in several years, thanks to Dave. We have had two successful fund-raisers to raise money for our school because of Dave. Our kids are excited to learn because of the fantastic teaching staff and because of Dave. We have had events to draw in the parents and establish a greater family all because of Dave. I cannot imagine in my mind a justifiable reason to strong-arm someone out of a position that they love! I watched him last week look absolutely distraught, worn out and exhausted, and now I know why. I am sure that was the worst decision he has ever had to make in his professional career.
Do you understand the implications of what you have done? I don’t know that you do, and I am not sure if you ever will. The district is in shambles right now, and you have just heaped a ton of “crap” on top for us to dig out of. Years from now, when you are no longer here and the rest of us are still trying to dig out from the mess that you have created, I can still say that you have robbed my kids. You have robbed them from the best possible education they could have by the hasty decisions that you have made over the course of the last week. My son’s educational career will never be the same. You have removed cornerstones in his building by removing not only the principals but the non-tenured staff this last week. Those cornerstones are very important to me, my son, and all the other members of the Jackson School family. By the decisions you have made and pushed through the last week, you are not making RPS 205 the district of choice. You are forcing the hands of many parents to either move out of the district or to put their children in private education. You are not moving us forward, Dr., you are hitting the rewind button. We don’t need any more discord in our district, we need unity!
Respectfully, Dr. Sheffield, you are not uniting this district, you are dividing it and driving a wedge between the administration and the staff. You are making teachers, parents and other staff weary and very distrustful of this administration. Fear is no way to run anything, a family or a school district. You may get what you want for the moment, but eventually things begin to fall apart. Eventually, the truth comes out, and the only thing left standing in the midst of the rubble is our children. Our children, and that’s not OK with me. My child does not need to suffer because of the decisions made by your administration and the board of education. This is wrong, and I will talk until I can’t talk anymore to tell people that we cannot stand by and passively let our children’s bright future be snuffed out. As the district’s leader, I do respect your position, but I DO NOT agree with it, and I plan to move forward for our kids’ future.
Next week: Read Sara Bowers’ Guest Column, “School District 205 in shambles under Dr. Sheffield.”
From the April 7-13, 2010 issue