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Former Rockford Public Schools Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield dies

ROCKFORD — Former Rockford Public Schools Superintendent Dr. LaVonne Sheffield died Wednesday at Beaumont Hospital in Dearborn, Michigan.

According to reports, Sheffield died from an acute infection. She was 69.

Sheffield was hired as Rockford’s superintendent in April 2009 and resigned in April 2011 with two years left on her contract.

Her time in Rockford was turbulent at best. Sheffield was named in three civil rights lawsuits, one brought by a Rockford teacher who claimed she was unduly terminated and retaliated against by the superintendent. The case was settled out of court, and the teacher was rehired.

Another complaint claimed Sheffield made defamatory statements about an education consultant who visited Rockford to speak against some of the changes she was making in the district. The case was later dismissed.

On Nov. 3, 2010, The Rock River Times brought a suit against Rockford Public Schools over a letter Sheffield received from former Auburn High School Principal Patrick Hardy and the newspaper requested under the Freedom of Information Act. The district argued the that letter was not subject to FOIA but released it before there was a ruling in the case. The court later ruled in favor of The Rock River Times and ordered the school district to pay a $2,500 penalty for acting in bad faith.

After her stint in Rockford, Sheffield was hired as an associate vice president of early college expansion at JFF, a Boston education-based economic development organization.

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