School board accepts LaVonne Sheffield’s resignation
By Jim Hagerty
The Rockford Board of Education accepted the resignation of Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield Tuesday (April 12) in front of a sizable crowd at Ellis Arts Academy.
The motion passed with a 5-1 vote.
Jude Makulec, Jeanne Westholder, Harmon Mitchell, David Kelley and Bob Evans all voted to accept Sheffield’s resignation, while Lisa Jackson voted “no.”
Alice Saudargas was absent.
Before the board voted, Jackson expressed disdain for the process by which she claims the superintendent was influenced to step down. She also applauded speakers who expressed support for Sheffield.
“For months, I have been listening to the vicious attacks by members of the community,” Jackson said. “It is refreshing to sit here and listen to the positive things said here tonight.”
Jackson emotionally thanked Sheffield for making radical changes in the district, something she said was necessary to “put children first.”
“You have had a very difficult, daunting tenure,” Jackson said. “You have been charged with maneuvering us through a financial crisis… providing a climate conducive to learning, bringing forward a balanced budget–to name a few. I’d like to say, ‘Job well done.’
“You have had to work with a divided board– in particular a divisive board member that has undermined your authority from the very beginning.”
While Jackson did not name the board member she accused of sabotaging Sheffield, she said her colleague did so with “hidden agendas and false allegiances.”
The board also approved the addition of a virtual learning program and the purchase of summer reading packets for elementary students. Both items were brought forward last week during a meeting of the Education Committee.
Sheffield’s last day with the district will be Saturday, April 30. Her severance packaged reportedly will include $105,000, three months’ worth of health benefits and unused sick and vacation days.
Three new school board members will be seated Tuesday, April 26. Laura Powers, Ken Scrivano and Tim Rollins will replace Kelley, Saudargas and Westholder, respectively.
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