Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

E. St. Louis Schools May Fight Dismissal the Issues; Poor Academics Cited; Financial, Ethics Concerns Have Been Raised.; the Successors Regional Superintendent Will Appoint 5 People to Run the District

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

E. St. Louis Schools May Fight Dismissal the Issues; Poor Academics Cited; Financial, Ethics Concerns Have Been Raised.; the Successors Regional Superintendent Will Appoint 5 People to Run the District

Article excerpt

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Newly ousted members of the East St. Louis School Board might seek a court injunction to save their seats "before the ink is dry" on the state's decision to remove them, one of the board members predicted Thursday.

"They're not going to go away just because eight people in Springfield voted to remove them," said Carl Officer, one of the ousted board members. "You think (School Board President) Lonzo Greenwood and the School Board attorney are going to let these guys come in and take their sandbox?"

The possibility of a court fight is one of several unknowns going into the first-ever removal of a local school board by Illinois state education officials.

The Illinois State Board of Education made the decision with a unanimous vote Thursday, citing generations of academic failure and a culture of resistance toward fixing it on the part of the local board.

"It can't go on," said state board member Vinni Hall, reflecting the frustration voiced by several state board members before the 8- 0 vote. "We've had generations and decades of children who are affected. Somebody's got to do something."

The measure passed by the state board mandates State Superintendent of Education Christopher Koch to direct St. Clair County Regional Superintendent Susan Sarfaty to remove the East St. Louis board members.

Koch then will appoint five people to an "Independent Authority" that will "exercise the powers and duties necessary to operate the district, improve school performance and student achievement," according to a statement by the state board.

Sarfaty, the regional superintendent, attended the state board meeting Thursday but said later in the afternoon that she had not had any official communication with Koch regarding the process of removing the board or details on when it would occur.

The state's action follows years of poor academic performance. The district has failed to meet standards under the federal No Child Left Behind law for the last nine years. In 2010-11, less than 10 percent of 11th-graders in East St. Louis schools taking the state's Prairie State Achievement Exam has passing scores in reading, math and science. Just 30 percent of its fourth-graders passed all state tests, compared with 63 percent statewide.

While academics is the issue that allows the state takeover under law, Koch and other critics also have referenced fiscal and ethics issues which, they have said, play into the district's academic failures.

Fiscally, the board was healthy eight years ago, amassing more than $40 million in surplus under a state financial oversight panel that had been in place for nearly a decade. But after the oversight panel was dissolved in 2004, the surplus dissolved, too. Today, the district is grappling with a $12 million deficit.

State officials have also made an issue of what they say was board members' lack of cooperation regarding district contracts - some of which carried hints of nepotism and cronyism. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.