Valley View School Board Action is Like the Weather: It's a White Out

Bolingbrook Principal Michael White's resignation is accepted even after citizens present 1,200 signatures on a petition to support him and students share stories of the difference he's made in the school building.

Bolingbrook PTA President Lynn Wypych, Bolingbrook High School senior Robiel Barredo and Valley View School Board President Steven Quigley were three of the featured speakers at Monday's meeting. Credit: Ron Kremer
Bolingbrook PTA President Lynn Wypych, Bolingbrook High School senior Robiel Barredo and Valley View School Board President Steven Quigley were three of the featured speakers at Monday's meeting. Credit: Ron Kremer

For more than 2½ hours, Valley View School District Superintendent James Mitchem and the board of education listened to public comments and then it came time for action.

And, after the board voted 5-2 to accept Bolingbrook High School Principal Michael White’s resignation, president Steven Quigley answered  the public outcry.

 “We will not go backward,” Quigley said on Monday night near the conclussion of a meeting that drew an overflow crowd that filled the auditorium at Lukancic Middle School in Romeoville and spilled into the cafeteria.

Citizens lined up to address the board, most in an orderly fashion. Many voiced their support for White and painted a picture of a man who has created a safe learning environment during his 1½ years on the job at Bolingbrook. A few said he has gone too far with discipline and called him a bully.

Others spoke of a clear divide that runs deep within the district and a dysfunctionality that prevents the district from being all that it can be and then came the first public remarks from White.

“My decision (to resign) was that I felt that I was limited in my ability to do my job as a building principal,” he said. “That means when curriculum is not a part of my daily routine I’m not doing the full job that is required of me.

“I felt I had reached the limits of what I could do at Bolingbrook High School. So, I submitted my resignation after many, many, many conversations. Don’t think this was just a one-time deal. I decided it was time for me to move on as a result of the fact I couldn’t get senior leadership to make some decisions that would help me do my job.”

White said he met with members of the Valley View School District administration several times and shared his concerns, the situation reaching a boiling point over the winter break period from school.

“Those concerns were not met—many of them that were discussed here (during the comments session of the board meeting),” he said.

White turned emotional when asked how he felt about the public display of support from so many in the crowd.

“As a building principal or administrator or educator, you can’t ask for a more rewarding thing than that of people seeing the impact you’ve had on them, their kids, the community,” he said. “So, I feel pleased and proud and humbled by what they shared tonight.”

White said he will finish the school year and do his job just like he’s always done it—no matter the hard feelings that have surfaced.

“I’ve been doing this for a year-and-a-half here; I will behave no differently, putting in the time, the effort and the care for the kids, spending the individual time with them, the after-school stuff,” he said. “Everything that I’m allowed to do within the limits I’m given, I’ll do. Absolutely.”

Tears were shed when the news of the board’s decision to accept his resignation was made clear to all those in the crowd—Quigley explaining the result of a vote on a consolidated action report for certified, classified and administrative personnel.

“If the board decides to accept Mr. White’s resignation, I just want to thank him for all he’s done to change Bolingbrook High School for the better,” said Amber Williamson, a freshman at the school.

“This whole thing—pitting Mr. Mitchem or the school board against Mr. White—is crazy,” said Thomas Weathers, a security officer at the high school and the father of two Valley View School District students. “Of course, great minds have their own ideas of how they want to do things. But I’m just saying, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’

“This is the first time this community has come out in force for one idea or another. So, that means something good is being done and something the community thinks is good is being threatened. So, let’s sit back, take some time and readdress the things.

“If we’re going in the right direction, give the man what he wants—some of what he wants—and if he doesn’t do it right, then you get rid of him. But let him be the principal if that’s all he’s asking for. What’s so bad, what’s holding up this issue, is that it’s pitting people against each other. And that’s not what this is about. It’s the kids.”

Colleen January 28, 2014 at 03:35 PM
It’s hard to put into words how disappointed I am. I’m disappointed that there were some who felt this ‘cause’ became a personal attack on Dr. Mitchem. The reality is that based on recent events the masses are questioning the professional ability of Dr. Mitchem to lead this district. Until Dr. Mitchem’s interview with the Bugle, I was practically campaigning for Dr. Mitchem. I told a group of people in a Support Mr. White! committee meeting that I felt he has the potential to be a superb superintendent. He is smart, communicates well, and in my opinion truly cares for the success of all children. I don’t doubt that he is an exceptional person. After speaking to many people and then reading the Bugle article, however, it also seems that he is inflexible, appears arrogant and has been unable to inspire the community to support his vision. This isn’t personal; it speaks to his ability to effectively lead this district. I don’t know the answer to that question. My mind is not made up, but I have taken a few steps away from my original thought process. Dr. Mitchem, I urge you to show some humility and be the bridge that heals this community. We all have room for growth and the experiences we have in life do change us; hopefully for the better. Ms. Campbell stated that maybe the positive to come out of this situation is that we stand up as a community and finally solve problems that have been stewing for years. I hope that is the case. I am disappointed that many people were afraid to speak openly and came to me anonymously with their personal experiences. Those were teachers, parents and, believe it or not, business members in our community who feared reprisals. I am disappointed that we live in an environment where people are afraid to speak their mind. If we truly want to make positive change, all sides need to feel safe to be open, we need to be honest and we should be civil to each other. Perhaps we need to create an online forum where members of our community can voice their opinions, ask questions, and post updates on progress related to educational matters in VVSD. I am willing to put a committee together to manage that, if the community feels it would be helpful. I truly hope that we don’t become complacent as time progresses. Respectfully, Colleen Douty
Cirrock January 28, 2014 at 03:40 PM
Colleen, a positive change would be a vote of no confidence? Let's make that happen.
Colleen January 28, 2014 at 04:02 PM
http://thetimesweekly.com/news/2014/jan/28/bolingbrook-high-school-principals-supporters-pack/ Time article about the meeting last night.
my opinion January 28, 2014 at 04:28 PM
Mray- how right you are. The voting law was changed, any kid can register and vote in the elections that take place anytime in the calendar year they turn 18.
Karen Saari-Thacker January 28, 2014 at 04:44 PM
Beyond ridiculous..... ALL of it!!! This is why we are leaving the District & going to Park Ridge!!!
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 05:20 PM
This looks familiar!http://www.myfoxchicago.com/story/24226690/teachers-vote-no-confidence-in-superintendent-principal
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 05:25 PM
Another http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-no-confidence-vote.htm
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 05:33 PM
Am I reading it wrong, sounds like teachers Union needs to get Involved/do it?
Spouse of a teacher January 28, 2014 at 05:49 PM
The vote of no-confidence is primarily a 'symbolic' move to show the BOE (or any governing body) and superintendent they are not pleased or are questioning the methodology and practices of that governing body. That being said, to get teachers to stand up or request a union meeting to propose a vote of no-confidence would prove difficult due to the size of the district.
One to always learn January 28, 2014 at 06:21 PM
Vote of no confidence is symbolic- Minooka just accomplished it against their Supt. and principal. The union does not have to endorse it, the teachers can do it on their own with 90% of the tenured teachers signing it. However, as Spouse of the teacher said I'm sure it would be hard for them to accomplish that since the district has so many schools and staff and faculty are afraid of losing their jobs do to retaliation. It would be nice to see the district staff unite too in numbers, but I fear that fear has gotten to them.
Cirrock January 28, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Our teachers are afraid of reprisals. Need I say more?
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 08:18 PM
Jim George: you are correct he did get it from Argosy University, does anyone know exactly when?
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 08:19 PM
How do I go about getting pending lawsuits pertaining to Romeoville High School?
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 08:26 PM
Here is a person everyone need to contact. You aren't going to like what he says but enough people call maybe they will look into the school board. Frank Perucca 1-815-740-8360. He is the assistant superintendent at the Will County regional office of education. I believe he is in charge of the school boards in the area. We have called so many people I'm getting a little confused.
Tristan January 28, 2014 at 08:57 PM
Pete: he got his degree from Argosy the spring before he started as Superintendent (BHS secretaries report he was never at BHS that winter/spring because he had to hurry up and finish his phd stuff). He had one of his Argosy professors do an independent audit of the district a year later. It declared VVSD to be ineffective so it was never released to the public. I think a Freedom of Information act could be filed to get it made public. An FIA could also be filed to see who the district has paid in lawsuits against Kinder and the board too. As for the teachers union and a vote of no-confidence, that's a tough battle because as I understand it, the union president and Mitchem are best buds. The teachers will try on their own, but the union pres will run interference. Sounds like poster Jim George might have more lawsuit information (see above).
Just asking January 28, 2014 at 09:07 PM
This is a large diverse, well funded district. In the search for a principal for our flagship school we required someone with experience and of course credentials in order. However, in contrast in filling our superintendent's position we selected someone with no experience and no credentials in order. In order to avoid the perception of cronyism a search team for the best qualified individual should have been used. We can't pretend this board is working in the best interest of the community. It's happen again power brings about arrogance and his friend ego.
Tristan January 28, 2014 at 09:16 PM
School board member Quigley calls parents who want to move out if this dysfunctional district "selfish" in the latest Chicago Tribune Article: http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/2892/article/p2p-79012248/
Betty Fractal January 28, 2014 at 09:20 PM
Did you know that the new state report cards have spots for principal turnover and teacher retention? What are people going to think about the community when they see that the high school has had at least four principals in six years? If a lot of teachers hold true to their word and leave, what will people assume about our kids? Will they want to take the gamble and settle here when it appears as though the school district staff doesn't even want to be here? I fear that people will make a lot of assumptions with those two pieces of data.
Faith Kinsman-Jones January 28, 2014 at 09:20 PM
It is sad that the school board didn't seem to care what all these people stood for. I hope they approach Mr. White and try again. It appears he has made such a significant impact. It is true we have a horrible reputation inBolingbrook and he had finally been able to turn it around.
Spouse of a teacher January 28, 2014 at 09:36 PM
Faith - I doubt there will be any discussions since they posted the principal position on the VVSD.org. What I find interesting is they have not posted the video from last nights meeting.
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 09:40 PM
Thx, Tristan. The whole appointment before he was certified seems a little weird to me. Would a Law firm give a contract to someone who didn't pass the bar yet? What if him/her Didn't pass the first time? I know the no confidence was a long shot, I understand that the teachers are too afraid. Completely understandable. Can't believe Quigley's quote. Tell me that he is following the Illinois Assoc. of School Board code of conduct https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.iasb.com/pdf/issue5.pdf&sa=U&ei=HmnoUrWjOo_8qgGSuIHAAg&ved=0CAUQFjAA&client=internal-uds-cse&usg=AFQjCNEajlLihlOu_FTgb5I_rfzfDyiqVw
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 09:48 PM
I also reading in one of the comments that the school board employs a lobbyist. Isn't the company Quigley works a lobbyist? http://www.wcgl.org/news/lobby-day-2014.html Anybody know what lobbyist our school board uses?
Spouse of a teacher January 28, 2014 at 09:54 PM
Pete - JAR Consulting is the lobby group.
Pete Simon January 28, 2014 at 10:00 PM
Seeya Later January 29, 2014 at 04:07 AM
Under the Freedom of Information Act you can request ALL Media Interviews and published articles from the Districts Public Relations Office, They are bound by Act to comply with any request for it even if it is 1 Page or 10 thousand they have to comply.
billy tridy January 31, 2014 at 09:31 PM
There is something you can do. Start attending the board meetings regularly. We also need to start talking to people to run against Quigley, Venegas, and Gougis in April 2015. There were some good canidates in 2013: http://bolingbrook.patch.com/groups/schools/p/bolingbrook-election-2013-valley-view-school-district-365u It is obvious they are not interested in what is best for the community, or the true constituents (11th, and 12th grade students. Remember this pro-Mr. White BHS students- the majority of you will be able to vote). We should think long term and focus on the election. We need to change the school board. We ousted an incumbent last time, we can do it again. It might not happen overnight, but it can be done. Their time is over.
Gina Keifer February 01, 2014 at 11:05 AM
Keep the momentum going. This was only one issue of many significant concerns by teachers in the district. Please hear them parents.
Marie February 09, 2014 at 04:46 PM
Hi Pete Simon, you asked about JAR consulting group awhile back. VVSD is paying them $3000 a month. Jim Riemer JR is the guy from JAR Consulting, who happened to go to high school with Steve Quigley. Connections, it's all about connections.
Rylan Lane February 20, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Hello, I'm a freshman attending BHS. And it was a very, very sad day when we hear Mr. White was leaving. They also lied about saying he was taking a "leave of absence" that Friday; he was leaving indefinitely. Which is such a disgrace; for a man to come in and not single-handedly, but without much support, transform a school I was literally afraid to go to into something I was proud to attend was remarkable. And the fact that he has to resign is ridiculous. These "disagreements" should be made public, and I personally believe anyone who supports The Board either doesn't realize how wonderful this man is or is blind.
Lisa February 21, 2014 at 07:13 PM
Want change? It's time to vote the entire board out.


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