The leader of a group formed out of a protest of Peoria District 150 leadership says he's taking his kids out of the public school system.
Change150 president Jim Powell announced on a blog post that he's putting his kids in private school. The reason, he writes, is to escape the stress put on his family by what he describes as ineffective, and damaging, district management. Powell writes that the school board and superintendent Grenita Lathan have "outdated and detrimental philosophy" which is hurting children and the community.
"This philosophy includes a heavy-handed, top-down model of leadership that intimidates and controls. In a world becoming more decentralized and empowering, this administration is centralizing more decisions and trying to make every school as similar as possible," Powell states, adding that the "cookie-cutter mentality" of the district is bringing schools down to the lowest common denominator.
Powell says while the leadership issues are troubling, it was a personal issue that forced his hand in making the decision.
"My wife had an encounter with the superintendent that got her kicked off school property, in what we feel was an abuse of power. My oldest son witnessed this encounter and was troubled by the incident. It caused him to lose confidence in certain leaders at his school, leaving him anxious and afraid much of the year. My youngest son had his inclusion teacher moved midway through the year, and he grieved the loss of his principal. He questioned why the administration thought his school cheated and came home with stories of problems and discipline issues that had never occurred before. These experiences and countless others left our family frustrated, angry, sad, and on edge," Powell writes.
He says he's not, however, going to step down as president of Change150. The group was originally formed in protest of the district's investigation of ISAT score irregularities at Charter Oak Primary School and the subsequent reassignment of popular principal John Wetterauer, who has since resigned. Change150 went on to swing the March school board election by supporting Sue Wolstenholm, a candidate who decided she didn't want to serve too late to get her name officially taken off the ballot.
Wolstenholm has formally given up her seat as promised, and the school board this week will conduct interviews to find her replacement. Change150 has endorsed Dan Adler for the position. Former Morton Dist. 709 school board member Nancy Overcash, former Peoria County Board member Jeff Lickiss, retiree Melvin McCaw, Peoria High School parent Phil Romanis, District 150 parent and CSE Software, Inc. Vice-President Lara Aaron, Richwoods High School parent Jon Bateman, and Laura Petelle, who lost her D150 school board seat to Wolstenholm, are also vying for the spot.
Powell says he plans on explaining his decision to stay with Change150 at a later time.