‘Fairness’ school rally not about Sheffield
By Jim Hagerty
About three dozen people gathered outside the Booker T. Washington Center Monday night for the “Rally for Fairness in Our Schools.”
While early reports said the event was an attempt by supporters to sway outgoing District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield to withdraw her resignation, officials and speakers suggested otherwise.
While several voiced their concern about the state of the city’s public education system, Sheffield’s name was largely mentioned in passing.
Winnebago County Board member George Anne Duckett organized the event and addressed the crowd several times. Each time she took the megaphone, her message was clear.
“We don’t need Dr. Sheffield here tonight,” Duckett said. “We have each other. We have ourselves.”
Although school board member Lisa Jackson (Sub District A) said many of the changes Sheffield made in two years have been positive, she also noted the focus, moving forward, must remain on children.
“It’s a ’save our children’ rally to me,’” Jackson said. “I would say that’s what it is. The community is really concerned about some of the proposed changes that have been happening.”
However, National Council of Negro Women President Aprel Prunty said Sheffield should stay and finish the work she started.
Former Board of Education President Mike Williams, who was on the board when Sheffield was hired, said the community must have a voice while the board looks for her replacement.
Williams also said many of Sheffield’s changes were done at a time when the community was not unified.
The school board is scheduled to vote on Sheffield’s resignation and severance package at tomorrow’s public meeting. According to word from the board, Sheffield will receive approximately $105,000, three months worth of health care benefits and unused sick and vacation days.
If the board agrees to those terms, Sheffield’s last day will be April 30, four days after three new members are seated.
Tuesday’s school board meeting will be at Ellis Arts Academy, 222 S. Central Ave. As of this report, the meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
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