Editor’s note: Sara Bowers sent a letter to District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne Sheffield on March 27, 2010, that also appeared in the April 7-13, 2010, issue. Following is a guest column she submitted for publication.
By Sara Bowers
I guess that the majority of you all have no idea exactly what has been going on behind the scenes since Dr. Lavonne Sheffield has taken over Rockford Public School District 205. Do you all really know these teachers have been putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to teach your children as well as mine? Can’t write them up for fear that you will lose your job. Don’t speak up, don’t do what’s right because Dr. Sheffield will call you down and make you explain, and then you get a permanent letter of reprimand placed in your file. Kids throwing chairs, threatening teachers that they will kill them. Bringing pellet guns, BB guns or real guns in and threatening other students and staff. You didn’t hear about that, did you? Or the fact that there was almost no reprimand for the student? How about being beaten by a student, and now the cops can’t be called, and you better not press charges. If you do, your job is on the line! Bullying tactics, threats and lies are what this administration operates in. There has not been one transparent day in this entire administration.
She outright fired all first- and second-year teachers. Anyone who had been in the district less than 3.0 years was terminated. Yep, some of you can apply again, but your years of service do you no good. You are on the same playing field as a new grad. 2.98 years of service? Sorry, you’re gone! Beware, folks. Wait for the test scores. If we go up, Dr. Sheffield will bask in the glory of “look what I HAVE DONE! I have made so many positive changes.” Guess what if the scores go down… Principals, don’t get comfy. She is going to THROW YOU UNDER THE BUS! You are now going to be responsible for everything. We may not think she is very smart, but she is conniving and cagey. She will make this work for her benefit only.
I agree wholeheartedly that if a teacher is not making the mark, then, yes, they should be let go. Every year but this year, the union has been involved in the decision-making process, as well as the principals. There has never been so much deceit, trickery or secrecy as there has been in this administration. Dr. Sheffield strong-armed this in, and she did it in a manner that is deceitful and wrong. She pushed through a new union contract on the premise that layoffs will be minimal. Get the teachers to vote on it, and push it through so they can’t strike. Then, BLINDSIDE THEM with more than 500 terminations and layoffs! That’s not who I want to run my school district, and that is not who I want making decisions for my child’s education. Shame on you, Rockford School Board! Shame on you for being mindless puppets who do Dr. Sheffield’s work with no regard for the real consequences that will follow. What about our kids? What about their home away from home? You are turning my child’s educational career upside down, and you do it with little or no regard for me or my child. Parents, you need to know what is going on in your schools! We need a no-confidence vote in our superintendent and our school board. It may not get them out, but it will show everyone in this community what’s what. No more smoke and mirrors. We elect these people, and I plan to talk until I can’t talk anymore so that come election time, this board is OUT!
Sara Bowers is a CT/MRI technologist at Rockford Memorial Hospital and a PTO secretary at Jackson Elementary School.
From the April 14-20, 2010 issue