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Proviso Probe

Monday, July 30, 2007

District 209 cans Stan Fields, hires Robert Libka

At tonight’s special board meeting the District 209 (Proviso Township High Schools) board of education voted to place Superintendent Stan Fields on paid administrative leave pending a termination hearing.

Former CEO Robert Libka was offered a 60-day contract as the interim superintendent.
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Four board members voted affirmatively for these moves: Brian Cross, Robin Foreman, Reatha “Sue” Henry and Emanuel Chris Welch. Dan Adams was absent. Robert Cox voted against both moves. Theresa Kelly voted “present” on the issue of removing Fields and opposed hiring Libka.

The meeting had to pause when the move to hire Libka was announced. The audience was laughing loudly enough to disrupt the meeting.

The board took some other actions.

The contract with Glenn Gerard to consult on the Proviso foundation was terminated. And the group that had been working with Gerard was disbanded. As I understood the meeting the foundation will still be created, but it will be done in-house. Gerard was brought to the district by Fields.

The student codes of conduct were approved 6-0.

Kelly raised the issue of Fields being paid a bonus. When she asked the rest of the board if Fields had been paid a bonus no one would respond. Also, after the meeting Kelly reminded people that board member Charles Flowers had pushed for a review of Fields’ performance while he was on the board. Kelly made it sound like Welch resisted the performance review.

Also, the police liaison agreement with the Village of Hillside was approved “as discussed in closed session”. Board president Emanuel Chris Welch who makes money billing school districts for legal work used this language twice. This discussion should have happened in open session. When I questioned the lawyer from Giglio & Del Galdo about why this was handled in closed session he said it was a personnel matter.

The Open Meetings Act provides for discussing personnel matters in closed session because of the issues about privacy and candidly discussing performance. Renewing a contract with a police department doesn’t fall in this category. If one applied the Giglio & Del Galdo analysis any contract where the services were ultimately provided by people would be a personnel matter to be discussed in closed session. Construction would be discussed in closed session because personnel would be used by the contractor to do the construction.

I also think canning the superintendent was a violation of the Open Meetings Act. I think removing a superintendent needs to be specifically publicized in the agenda. The heading of “Personnel Matters” seems too vague.

Feel free to discuss the back story in the comments.

[UPDATE Tuesday, 8:56 AM: Getting lots of traffic this morning.

[What do you think of Fields getting canned? Bringing back Libka? How should the community react? What should other public officials do to make District 209 a properly functioning school district?]

[UPDATE2: Forest Park Review (Josh Adams) has a good summary. The board members for terminating Fields declined to give reasons. But the attorney told Adams it wasn't because of the federal subpoenas. There's more to the article. Good read it.]

[UPDATE3: Chuck Fieldman seemed to think the earliest Proviso Herald would cover the story is Wednesday, eight days from now. But he was wrong. See Proviso Herald (Chuck Fieldman)
Cox said he had been advised to "not comment on the logic of the Board's decision to remove Fields as superintendent." He added that he wants his "no vote" to speak for his view of whether Fields should have been placed on leave, pending a termination hearing.

[Bob, Bob, Bob, feel free to consider the possibility that the people giving you advice are giving advice designed to serve their interests, not you, the board, the taxpayers or the students.]

[UPDATE4: I talked to Cox this morning (August 6) and he voted against putting Fields on administrative leave and for hiring Libka.]

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  • CUFP recorded the meeting, so hopefully there will be some video up on You Tube before too long.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 11:49 PM, July 30, 2007  

  • Welch must be panicking out of his mind...
    Gene Moore,Brian Cross and Don Sloan are suffering from massive diarrhea.....
    Adams,Matlock,Henry,Carlson,Cox,Bruno are sweating...
    Every noise could be Fitz coming to unseal an Indictment..

    Thump Thump Thump Thump....


    It's Fitzmas...

    Testify Under Oath! Testify Under Oath!

    Perjury = Prison!

    Hee hee hee!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:59 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • Firing Fields is so ridiculous that one can only think of what the hell is going on at 209! Hopefully regional super. Flowers will investigate the firing!
    I think Fields is a real ass and a stupid man who deserves his firing, but considering Welch,Henry and Cross fired him , makes one wonder if Fields decided to stop obstructing justice and refused to cover up Welch's, and Moore's previous actions!!!
    Sombody needs to contact the Sun Times and Tribune and let them come and investigate these firings!!!I wonder how the feds are going to react to this newest firing of yet another superintedent by Welch.Can you imagine the federal trial of Welch and Moore with all these superintendents showing up to be witnesses against Welch??? Priceless!!!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:06 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • What reason was given to remove Fields? I heard it was for not allowing kids to stay home during last years snow storm! The Board felt that Fields risked the children's lives,as well as the parents by not calling off school during last year's snow storm, then it was noted that Fields cursed out parents when they complained, even though he did'nt make it to school on that day until 1:00pm!!
    What a bad year for stan,First Mundelien , now Proviso,what's next being fired as a inmate teacher at the prison wherever he gets assigned too?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:13 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • Rumor has it Welch finally got fed up with Fields not playing ball on Welch's shady deals and patronage manuevers. People here at the district have been aware even though Welch is Fields boss, Fields was vehemently opposed to the ongoing hanky-panky of Welch. The conflict supposedly got heated when Welch demanded 209 cut crooked deals with the law firm, printing company, PR firm and insurance broker. Most people here also understood Fields was trying to replace the totally inept principal at Proviso West but he couldn't pull it off because of Welch. The real shit probably hit the fan when the feds came in last week. My guess is Fields probably didn't lie when asked about Chris Welch and Gene Moore.

    By Anonymous The Big Chill, at 6:55 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • When are the taxpayers of dist. 209 going to say ENOUGH? Fields had all these grand plans and now we're going back to Libka? The entire community should show up at the next board meeting and ask questions. It seems to me that years ago the people of Elmwood Park got the state to axe all the board members on the school board. Why can't the citizens start a grass roots petition and get rid of these guys who are screwing up an already failing district?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:24 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • Who wants to be part of a community group that exists to reform Proviso public schools.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 8:49 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • That last post should end with a question mark.

    Contact me, (773)430-3538, RadioNyberg circled "a" yahoo spot com.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 8:50 AM, July 31, 2007  

  • The BOE could not be more irresponsible in the way they run the district. It is a shame that a true leader is being sent away. Personal agenda vs. doing what is best for kids? Pathetic! To all who believe keep on doing so and do what you can to move forward. This is a true test of hope, faith...and ACTION. The kids need you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:44 PM, July 31, 2007  

  • What ever happened to no Anonymous Replies, or is that rule in effect only when it suits you?

    By Anonymous Just Wondering, at 2:57 PM, July 31, 2007  

  • I'm expending most of my effort moderating comments looking for stuff that's disrespectful or talks about peoples' bodies, health and sex lives.

    But you're right. I'll go back to holding the line on anonymous comments too.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 2:59 PM, July 31, 2007  

  • There! I am no longer anonymous. That feels much better.

    By Blogger Cook County Cretin, at 9:04 PM, July 31, 2007  

  • All the taxpayers and parents in the district should be at the next meeting, but a vast majority of the parents don't care about what's happening with their children's education.

    Chris Welch and Gene Moore are menances to the citizens of Proviso. They create jobs for family members, bypass the union hiring procedures and mismanagement funds.

    I read in another post that someone suggested an investigation by local news reporters; I think that a federal investigation should take place. The school board and administration are a joke.

    It amazes me that in such a poor community that the board can find monies for public relations, lobbyist, made up positions for family members, hiring of unqualified personnel, etc.
    One example is the hiring of the pregnant switchboard operator, who got promoted in less than 60 days to the business manager at East. She got promoted during her probationary period, worked less than 30 days in her current position and is now on maternity leave. Of course when you're friends with Nikita Johnson, it doesn't matter that you don't have a business or accounting degree, or experience in business management.
    As a taxpayer, I am tired of friends and family plan at Proviso. We need to hire people that aren't connected to the current board and administration.

    Libka is a nice man, but he is not the person needed to lead this district.

    By Anonymous sickandtired, at 10:26 AM, August 01, 2007  

  • complaints should be forwarded to the following...

    Robert D Grant
    Special Agent in Charge


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:28 PM, August 01, 2007  

  • I'm stunned and deeply frustrated that Stan Fields got fired. Our schools finally had a true leader and reformer who had a vision, an intelligent plan and the no-nonsense guts to carry it out. As I see it, his only serious mistake was actually believing the school board shared the same goal of turning around our high schools' performance. But no, Proviso political corruption once again was far more important than educating our kids.

    This latest sad episode is so incredibly outrageous and sets back the community so far, I'm not sure we'll ever recover. What person in their right mind who had any character and vision would now want to become superintendent here now that the board's corruption has been so publicly demonstrated? Why would Bob Libka want to again get involved with these scoundrels when he has to know the feds are just starting to put together the criminal puzzle? The only reason I can think of is his highest priority is to help corrupt board members cover their tracks.

    I hope loads of folks who can show up at the next board meeting do so and voice their outrage at Stan Fields firing.

    By Anonymous One Angry Woman, at 5:16 PM, August 02, 2007  

  • I question some of Fields' decisions, but believe that this is a disaster for the students of this district. Fields came in and gave the teachers the authority they needed to teach in the classroom, instead of letting the students get away with showing up late and unprepared. I hope the administrations of these schools prove me wrong, but I fear that it will be another year of a few students running the halls and ruining it for those who want to learn. The new discipline plan will only be effective if those in charge are willing to back it up.

    By Blogger not ready to quit, at 8:39 AM, August 03, 2007  

  • As a Forest Parker I can't believe Bob Cox wouldn't be outraged by the despicable acts of this board. With Fields firing, he now has GOT to know the degree of corruption. Hell, anyone who has followed the board shenanigans during at least the last 10 years has to be astonished by this record-setting new low they reached in firing Fields. Just read the papers. This board just fired a man who reestablished rapport with teachers and built relationships. He put in a strict disciplinary system that gave good kids the chance to actually learn. He put in academic standards that gave a Proviso diploma some real meaning. He improved communications with every facet of our community by meeting with parents, churches, and union reps and actually ACTING on their suggestions. He created a thorough strategic plan and put it out on the websites for all to see. He got us websites that are ACTUALLY informative and ones we can be proud of. He was cleaning up the schools financial mess. He was getting rid of the excess personnel and the incompetent political hires. He terminated the contracts of people who didn't DO anything. If outsiders like us can read about just these accomplishments in the paper, I have to believe an insider like Cox would know even more and be even madder about Fields firing. C'mon Bob! WTF! Represent!

    By Anonymous Forest Parker, at 10:59 AM, August 03, 2007  

  • As a teacher at Proviso West, I'm deeply saddened by Dr. Fields termination. I know many of us felt he was quite supportive of our needs in providing a learning environment. Although his superintendency was brief, his impact was profound. His direction and leadership was much needed. Certainly, we all initially wondered if he was sincere and capable of reforming the system. We quickly realized he was a person who walked the talk. Sadly, the politics that poison Proviso appear to be too formiable for even a strong leader. I will continue to do my best in my classroom, but I hold no hope that Proviso will change in my lifetime.

    It's a bad day to be a Panther.

    By Anonymous PWHS Teacher, at 11:37 AM, August 03, 2007  

  • What happened to Stan Fields is a simple example of the chickens coming home to roost!

    Form the day he was hired, Stan aligned himself with the majority board (Chris Welch, Danny Adams, Sue Henry, Brian Cross and Shirley Madlock) to rubberstamp their wishes. He assisted these leaches with patronage hiring, no-bid contracts and personnel decisions based on the interests of this corrupt majority. To ring the alarm and start a "March on Washington" for Fields is a misuse of commonsense and a waste of time.

    As the saying goes...when you lay down with dogs...you'll wake up with fleas.

    I expected Stan to be smarter than what he has shown...by his own free-will he decide to do the bidding of Welch and the majority board. I have no remorse for him because he knew exactly what he was doing when he did it!

    The majority board makes up like the mafia with Gene Moore being the godfather. It's common knowledge what happens to those who do business with the mob...when they are no longer needed...or out lived their worth...they get wacked, plain and simple! Stan was no longer needed...and he got wacked!

    There is no honor amongst thieves!

    Stan would like to portray himself as an innocent victim…a good Samaritan even, who came to this district and tried to reform and make good. My message to Stan is; you cannot play the innocent victim when you are a willing participant! Stan Fields…through patronage awarded his friend Scott Schroeder from Technivista an $800,000.00 contract for the District 209 website. Right…$800,000.00 for a website…but lest not forget…Stan is a victim. Stan also instituted a “pro-majority” board policy that states, information cannot be released to a single board member unless the full board approves. This was Chris Welch’s wish that Stan implemented. This was put in place to keep information away from the minority board members…in essence it keeps them from contesting the corrupt actions of the superintendent, the school board president and the majority board.

    I do not agree with the way Stan was dismissed…but it couldn’t have happened to a better person! Stan has become the district 209 poster child of what happens to you when you join the majority board mob…when you have outlived your worth…you get replaced by an even dumber pawn! Right Libka?

    By Anonymous Willing participant..., at 2:19 PM, August 03, 2007  

  • To "willing participant",
    Let me first say I work at the district. I see 1st hand what's going on. Stan Fields, like any other superintendent, works for the BOE. He did what he was directed to do by the BOE while at the same time he got his reforms in place. If board president Welch told him to do something like your communication policy then he had no choice but to do it. Besides, you don't know if he protested behind the scenes. You just don't know. But what is fact is Stan Fields made the big changes necessary for our kids and our teachers. That's fact. He listened to the teachers. He created action committees with parents. He got rid of as many political hacks as he could. And if you check your facts you'll see we paid $192,000 for websites for all three schools and one for the district office. Not $800,000. And the fact is our websites are excellent.

    Stan Fields got more done for 209 in less than a year than all others put together for all those years. The problem was not Stan Fields. The problem is and always has been the BOE. If they would have just let this man do his job without the bullshit from the BOE we would be far better off. The firing of Stan Fields is a major setback for all of us.

    By Anonymous a true insider, at 8:56 AM, August 04, 2007  

  • Just playing “What if?”
    What if someone had so much dirt on board members and elected public officials that he used that chip to cash in a big yearly paycheck despite doing no work?
    What if a person was given a high position because he’s the one player who knows where all the skeletons are and can now have complete access to “manage” things now that the feds are poking around?
    What if someone writing checks was socially involved with a board officer?
    What if a board member or two were in so deep that they put together a “Plan B” where they would be willing to talk about bigger fish already in pan?
    What if a “Plan C” was developed where if plans A and B weren’t working, they would talk about even bigger fish still swimming around?
    What if a former board member went far outside the rules on several occasions and is thinking the best defense is a good offense?
    What if a former board member is wrestling about throwing “friends” under the bus hoping to save a good gig?
    What if at least two elected public officials have decided to cut their losses?
    What if a mistress was really, really mad?
    All these things would make a good movie, doncha think?

    By Anonymous the big chill, at 10:59 AM, August 04, 2007  

  • It appears a lot of people are passing judgment on the Board before hearing all the facts. If Stan Fields was so great, why did Morton throw him out? Why did he bolt Mundelein in the middle of a contract? Were they about to throw him out and he got out before then? Do we really know why the board was in closed session for almost two hours Monday? Did the board investigate the allegations that Fields brought in tons of friends on lucrative contracts? Did the board catch Fields' hands in the cookie jar? I ask these questions because people should wait before passing judgment. I bet some juicy stuff on the board and Fields is about to come out.

    By Anonymous Fields Watcher, at 2:17 PM, August 04, 2007  

  • Theresa Kelly told me that Fields paid himself a $25,000 performance bonus without board knowledge. She said Fields admitted it to Bob Cox, and Cox inadvertently told her. I also hear Fields hooked up quite a few of his friends from Mundelein with huge contracts. The website was designed by Scott Schroeder of Technivista. Fields and Schroeder go way back. They play golf on the course the Schroeder's house sits on every Sunday. Fields paid Schroeder $192,000 to design the sites, but he pays him $25,000 a month to maintain them. Schroeder was the only company to respond in an "open" bid process. Hmmm. I also hear Fields was real good buddies with this Foundation Consultant, Glen Gerard. They were buddies at Mundelein also, and they were keeping information from the board. I also hear Fields was really upset when he tried to rig the bid process to get the copy company bid to Xerox Corporation, another company he worked with at Mundelein. Fields and the Xerox field rep are apparently close friends and the friend stood to gain a big commission. However, the board got wind of the deal, and they awarded the contract to the low bidder. I hear there is more stuff like this set to come out.

    By Anonymous Fields Was Caught, at 2:39 PM, August 04, 2007  

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