District 150 Superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan has resigned. Lathan made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday night.
“It has been an honor to serve as superintendent for Peoria Public Schools,” Lathan said before announcing her resignation. She went on to thank her cabinet and the District principals.
Lathan touted her accomplishments, including the expansion of the International Baccalaureate program, a new principal evaluation system, a School Improvement Grant project at Peoria High School and the Woodruff Career and Technical Center.
The D150 school board was scheduled to make a decision on her future during a reorganization meeting Wednesday following the swearing in of two new board members, Dan Adler and Ernestine Jackson. The advocacy group Change 150 spearheaded the effort to oust Lathan and had endorsed Adler and Jackson.
Lathan was set to enter the final year of her contract. She was hired for the position in 2010.
Lathan refused to answer reporters’ questions following her statement of resignation.
Board Vice-President Linda Butler said the board had been in negotiations with Lathan toward a contract extension.
However, stopping short of placing blame for the situation, Butler cited the actions of fellow board members Martha Ross and Lynne Costic in requesting the votes concerning Lathan’s immediate future be included on Wednesday’s agenda.
“(Ross and Costic) used a board governance procedure for, what I believe, was their personal interests,” Butler said. Butler explained Board policy allows two board members to place an item on the agenda.
Butler claimed Board President Debbie Wolfmeyer, herself and board member Rick Cloyd were not aware the items would be placed on the agenda until the agenda was released late Monday morning.
“It is disturbing that Mrs. Ross, from my viewpoint, in anticipation of being board president would schedule a meeting that would have such a significant impact on the District without notifying the current seated board members,” says Butler.
Ross and Cloyd are expected to vie to be Board president during Wednesday’s reorganization meeting after the two new board members are sworn in. The meeting begins at Noon at the District’s Administration Building.
Ross and Costic responded to Butler’s claims late Tuesday night through a written statement.
“Let’s be very clear,” the statement reads, “after the school board election this Spring the issue of Dr. Lathan’s contract was initiated by Linda Butler and Debbie Wolfmeyer. They wanted to extend Dr. Lathan’s contract before the two new members were seated. Their actions to extend the contract forced the board to take a look at all of our options as it relates to Dr. Lathan’s contract. Our decision to put the contract on the agenda was with the intention to bring this discussion to the full board.”
Ross’ and Costic’s statement continues, “Linda Butler’s choice to disparage our character and integrity as duly elected members of this board is absolutely despicable and completely unwarranted. Our record of service to this community and to this board speaks for itself.”
A special meeting is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. Thursday to appoint an interim superintendent and to approve Lathan’s separation agreement, which was described to be in draft form Tuesday afternoon and being finalized.
Butler would give no specifics of the agreement but said, “Even in her departure Dr. Lathan has provided the Board a separation agreement that is gracious and not harming to the District.”
Change150 issued a statement Tuesday evening wishing Lathan well in her next venture, but, “Dr. Lathan realized the Board was listening to the voters who spoke out loudly for change during the last two elections, and she chose to resign, rather than face the termination of her contract.”
“Change150 would like to thank board members Martha Ross and Lynn Costic for their willingness to discuss Dr. Lathan’s employment. Ross and Costic saw the need for a different approach, and we applaud them for listening to the sentiments of the voting public.”
Change150 goes on to ask the board consider an acting superintendent “who is familiar with the District. We ask for an individual who is respected, leads with integrity, has vision and foresight, who loves our city and its children, families and teachers and who will work collaboratively and in partnership with organizations to achieve the best for the students in our district.”