The relationship between the Madison Junior High School principal and her staff isn't so damaged it keeps students from learning, but it isn't something likely to sort itself out, either.
That's the opinion of Thomas Cavenagh, the conflict-resolution specialist Naperville school leaders have hired to help Principal Predonna Roberts and her staff work through differences that have emerged during her first year on the job.
And, as mediator, it's one of the few opinions Cavenagh is likely to express.
"From what I have heard so far, it's a relatively narrow set of issues that are the relatively natural products of a transition in leadership," Cavenagh said Wednesday. "I think we're in the middle ground between 'no big deal' and a colossal set of issues. It's not going to be easy to mediate because there are fairly significant levels of disagreement in some areas, but I don't think it involves everyone on the staff."
Roberts became principal at Madison this school year, taking over for Jerry Virgo. Virgo was well-liked and well-respected in the school and community and held the post for 19 years before retiring.
Roberts came to Naperville Unit District 203 with strong credentials as a teacher and building principal and even had served as the director of pupil personnel services in a Calumet Park elementary district. Naperville administrators said at that time they were excited to put someone with her experience into the Madison position.
Shortly after the school year started, though, differences began to mount between Roberts and her staff, sources said.
No one says publicly where the roots of the dispute lie, but Cavenagh and district officials categorize it as a working relationship issue and possibly a personality conflict. It is not tied to working conditions spelled …