To the Editor: No numbers to back up Sheffield’s claims

June 9, 2010

To hear District 205 Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield speak, you would think the school system was drowning in a virtual tsunami of certification violations within the teaching ranks. Actually, she used the word “tons” on the final segment of WREX’s profile of her first year in office. Well, I got tired of never hearing hard numbers or detailed information to back up these pronouncements. So I did some digging.

I contacted Dr. Richard Fairgrieves, superintendent of the Regional Office of Education. His office is the repository for all teaching certificates in the Rockford school system. He told me that the chances of classroom teachers working outside their areas of certification was practically zero. So where did these “tons” of violations come from?

The answer is from nowhere. They were merely a smokescreen used to justify the laying off of some 500 teachers, the opening salvo of an assault on the teaching contract.

I invite the administration to provide in print verifiable evidence of these violations. Give us the numbers for elementary, middle and high schools. Give us the numbers for bilingual and specialist staff members. I won’t hold my breath waiting for this information.

By the way, a question has been raised about whether Chief Financial Officer Cedric Lewis has all of the certification required to serve as CFO. If he does, fine. If he doesn’t, why is he employed?

Roger Oehlke


From the June 9-15, 2010 issue


  1. VeryModest

    June 10, 2010 at 11:12 pm

    Please don’t forget that this is the same woman that made the comment at the Signal Hill neighborhood meeting that she has people looking at ways around the contract. A contract I might add that she agreed to and signed her name. This is also the woman that stood up before that group of people and was there to answer their questions. Only when she started answering each question she was on topic for the first couple of minutes and then very skillfully took that topic and twisted it around to what she really wanted to talk about. I don’t remember her answering one question that was asked of her that night but she sure did a whole lot of talking.

    As for Cedric Lewis, shouldn’t the Regional Office also have his credentials on file? He is a public employee paid for out of taxpayer funds. So shouldn’t his information be public knowledge just like everyone else that is paid for with taxpayer monies?

  2. shern

    June 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Story time! Continuing on the saga of the Lewis Lemon School Cafeteria manager selection…latest news is that the union was asked to file a grievance on behalf of the caucasian candidate (the one who lost her bid for the mgr. job at Lemon) and the union rep says, because the new union contract book was not yet signed, the grievance would go no further because the old contract book did not carry specific language about seniority having priority in selection of candidates. Excuse me? Past practice in food service reflected the choice of candidate on capability, experience, and seniority in food service. The new contract book states that seniority is indeed a priority. Back to the bare facts, the African American candidate that was chosen for the mgr. job does not have the vast experience nor the seniority as the caucasian candidate has. The “winner” was indeed chosen by the African American principal at Lewis Lemon, who went directly to Supt. Sheffield and requested her! Sheffield instructed her people to relay to Food Service to Hire Her! This is as clear a case of discrimination as could possibly be! Why there has been no investigation of this incident is beyond explanation! Are the School Board members(whom allegely receive trips and gifts from Dr. Sheffield) going to continue to support and condone these ludicrous events and incidents? There will surely be some changes when the voters have their say! Stand up for this horrible unfair injustice to this hard-working food service worker who sought only to better herself but instead ran into a wall of discrimination and sad behavior among our very own “leaders”. I hope she takes her fight to an attorney and sues the Rockford District for discrimination. She has the facts to back it up.

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