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Guest Column: District 205: In defense of sanity

May 11, 2011

Editor’s note: The following is in response to the May 4-10 guest column “In defense of LaVonne Sheffield,” by Dyanna Chandler. The author suggests reading Chandler’s column prior to reading this rebuttal.

By Jane Hayes

She came to Rockford in April 2009 with an autocratic leadership style that nearly destroyed our school district, divided our community along racial lines, and certainly eliminated morale throughout our schools. Sorry, this taxpayer never proclaimed her as a savior because of her chaotic leadership style, inequitable and costly decisions, and impersonal demeanor and outbursts.

Crafting academics was her visionary plan, hardly! Craftiness, however, was her forté.

Equity for children? How is that possible without an orderly school environment? Without discipline and respect, there can be no academic gains, order or responsible learning environment in the classroom or throughout the schools. Permissive acceptance of double standards and privileges for favored students or staff members was more her status quo.

Ethical behavior? Hardly, when those who were in power abused that power and misused the public trust. Does this really surprise anyone? Former Rockford Public School District 205 Superintendent Dr. LaVonne M. Sheffield did not respect us: the taxpayers, community, parents, students or staff!

I, for one, question her fiscal responsibility that led us from a $111 million surplus in 2009 to deficit spending, closing schools and obliterating teachers, athletic directors and principals. I question her centers for learning when serious discipline incidents went unreported, creating an often chaotic learning environment.

Those who challenged her leadership were put on administrative leave and ushered from their buildings by the long arm of her law, Earl Hernandez. I question her love for children fueling her as an agent of change because this nearly destroyed our district, divided our community, and negatively affected so many children throughout the district.

Yes, I have been a watchdog of Dr. Sheffield, but as a retired educator, I yearn for academic reform and academic improvements and don’t consider this as an adult-oriented agenda. I consider common sense and educated views as being the only logical course of progress for education. In fact, the so-called vocal minority certainly became the vocal majority, as evidenced by the turnout at the board meetings to counter illogical cuts made to established personnel and schools that proved their merits.

Yes, I am a vocal critic of the damage done to our schools and the trail of tears she imposed on us. Yes, I am a critic of those still in power who drank from her Kool-Aid!

However, I do believe this newly-elected school board will make a difference, and I will support their efforts. Your work as board members can be overwhelming at times, but you need to know the citizenry will more likely support your decisions if they are made transparently and you have included the community in the process of making changes.

We need to trust each other again. However, if you do not act openly to engender my trust, I will be a vocal critic and watchdog of you as well. You see, I am part of the solution, as I trust you will be. In defense of successful public schools and sanity, I will continue to be a watchdog for ethics in education.

Meanwhile, thanks to the taxpayers’ dime, she, who will not be named, is riding around our streets in her red Porsche with Von2 license plates. God help the community she visits next!

Jane Hayes is a founding member of Watchdogs for Ethics in Education and a retired teacher. She was also a candidate for the Rockford Board of Education in Sub District C in the April 4 election.

From the May 11-17, 2011 issue

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