Guest Column: Speech to the Rockford School Board

Editor’s note: The following comments were to be given during the public comments period of the Nov. 9 Rockford Board of Education meeting. For more about the Nov. 9 Board of Education meeting, including Rockford Public School District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield’s response to her critics, click here.

By Shannon Symonds

I am here tonight [Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010] to protest the unethical actions of this administration and the subsequent non-action of the BOE (Board of Education) that relates to me personally.

I am a former four-year teacher, one day from tenure, with excellent district evaluations, who was not rehired this past summer. During my ordeal, I have simply wanted my job back.

I allege that as a District 205 teacher, I have been discriminated against by this administration for having been assaulted by a student and reporting it. Furthermore, I have subsequently aggravated the situation by speaking to the BOE about improprieties in the hiring process. Make no mistake; in questioning the ethics of this administrator, I have received her wrath. Principals have been told by this administration not to interview me and not to recommend my name for rehire. I can prove that at least twice I have been the preferred, most-qualified candidate for advertised teaching positions, but building administrators have been overruled in their choice by the Human Resource Department, at the direction of this administration.

Unfortunately, the school board has refused to fully investigate my allegations of retaliation, as the majority of members feel that this is not their role. Board President David Kelley has NEVER even acknowledged my multiple correspondences, which is no wonder why teachers do not come forth.

Nonetheless, without a committee investigation, I have been forced to take legal action. As of late October, my attorney sent notice to all board members.

My allegations of unethical, retaliatory actions on behalf of Dr. Sheffield should be investigated. I remind you the charges are not only unethical, but illegal. As such, I ask the citizens of Rockford to not accept this behavior, to demand an investigation of these charges and not accept the non-action of this board.

Sadly, I realize my favorable legal outcome, on my behalf, would be at the expense of the taxpayers and not as it should be, on the superintendent. Taxpayers, this is your city and your schools; please do not let this continue; demand that the superintendent be held accountable for her actions.

Shannon Symonds is a former four-year teacher in Rockford School District 205.

From the Nov. 10-16, 2010 issue

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