Tag Archives: Jeff Schuler

Board examines its effectiveness

by Susan O’Neill
The Kaneland School Board will participate in a self-evaluation process for its members to determine how the board is working as a team, define its strengths and weaknesses, and to make plans for improving its function.

The group taking part in the self-evaluation includes the board members, Kaneland School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick and Associate Superintendent Jeff Schuler. Each member will complete a survey, which will be sent to Barbara Tonie, a representative of the Illinois Association of School Boards. Tonie will facilitate the session with the group on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Board President Lisa Wiet said the session should help the board gain clarification of a school board’s role and how it is adhering to that role.

The session will not be open to the public. The Illinois Open Meetings Act allows boards to meet in closed session for the purpose of self-evaluation when it meets with a representative of its statewide association.

New Stewart principal starts July 1

Former principal leaves for new position
by Susan O’Neill
ELBURN—Brian Graber takes over as principal for the Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School for the 2009-10 school year beginning Wednesday, July 1. Former principal Rebecca Dahn left the district to become principal of Fremont Middle School in Mundelein, Ill.

Dahn had been with the Kaneland District for six years, the last five as principal at John Stewart. During her tenure as principal, she said her accomplishments included increasing student achievement at the school by 10 percent and hiring a number of good staff members.

According to Associate Superintendent for Kaneland School District Jeff Schuler, Graber emerged as the top candidate after an extensive interviewing process. Graber accepted the offer last Friday.

“He brings a great wealth of experience to us,” Schuler said.

Graber was an assistant principal in the Elmhurst School District prior to coming to Kaneland, and was an elementary education teacher in Western Springs, Ill., before that.

D-302 to hire interim HS principal

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—School District officials will hire an interim high school principal for the 2009-2010 school-year.

According to Associate District Superintendent Jeff Schuler, this will give the district the additional time it needs to find an appropriate long-term candidate.

Former high school principal Tony Valente left the district two weeks ago to accept a position at Hall High School in Spring Valley, Ill. His contract with the Hall Board of Education begins July 1.

Schuler said that a search for a high school principal is at least a month-long process to do it right. In addition, most school contracts begin on July 1 and go through June 30, so attractive candidates would already have signed their contracts for the upcoming school year.

Interim candidates are typically retired administrators, and Kaneland will look for those with strong experience as a high school principal. Schuler said he had a short list of candidates to interview.

KHS principal resigns

Valente said he will remain active in the district
by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Kaneland High School principal Tony Valente’s departure this week leaves the district short on time to find an appropriate replacement for the coming school year, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said Monday.

Valente accepted a position as principal of Hall High School in Spring Valley, Ill., last week after the Hall High School Board approved his hiring in a special meeting June 10. Valente said he will sign the contract, which begins July 1, with the Hall Board of Education this week.

Valente was Kaneland’s high school principal for the past two years. He was hired into the Kaneland School District as the assistant principal three years ago. Prior to coming to Kaneland, he was the assistant principal and dean of students in the West Aurora School District for five years and a history teacher at Proviso East High School for six years.

Valente said he had been looking for other opportunities for awhile before he received the offer from Hall High School in Spring Valley. He said that prior to the Hall High School offer, he had been a finalist in a search with another school.

“I was looking for the right fit,” he said.

He said Hall is a smaller school, with 430 students as compared to Kaneland’s 1,100. He said the size of the school will give him the opportunity to wear more hats and have more control over curriculum and personnel decisions.

A resident of Sugar Grove with three children in district schools, Valente said he has a vested interest in the community and expects to remain active in the district. He is currently a member of the Facilities Planning Committee and plans to continue serving in that capacity.

Schuler said he and other district administrators would take a few days this week to evaluate the options for replacing Valente. He said the district could either post the position and conduct a search for a permanent replacement or it could hire an interim candidate for a year, allowing for more time to perform the search in a typical timeframe.

“If you’re doing it (a search for a principal) right, it’s at least a month-long process,” he said.

“Most administrators’ yearly contracts begin July 1 and run through June 30,” Schuler said. “Anytime you get a resignation in June, it’s late in the game.”

In addition, with most people on a year-long contract beginning on July 1, it limits the number of people available.

Schuler said the administration will determine its hiring strategy sometime later this week.

District Superintendent Charlie McCormick was out of the office and unavailable for comment at press time.

Kaneland Board accepts coach’s resignation

by Susan O’Neill

The Kaneland School Board on Thursday voted to accept the resignation of Kaneland High School coach and teacher Dennis Hansen. The vote was 5-1 in favor of both approving the separation agreement and of accepting Hansen’s resignation.

The dissenting vote was School Board member Deborah Grant, who said her vote was “in light of recent e-mails that the district has received and in lieu of additional information that may come forth.”

Hansen had been suspended from his coaching duties on May 7 and from his teaching responsibilities on May 11. The suspensions and a subsequent investigation were based on allegations made by parents, current students and graduates regarding inappropriate behavior toward students.

The six- to eight-week investigation conducted by Kane County Sheriff’s Police Resource Officer Paul Warren and school officials on behalf of the district uncovered allegations in both the teaching and coaching realm and involved about a dozen current students and recent graduates during the past couple of years, as well as several graduates who had been students in 2001.

According to school officials, the district was not made aware of the 2001 behaviors until the recent investigation, and no information was brought forth from the years in between the two timeframes. Attorney Maureen Lemon, representing the district, said the initial allegations were brought to the resource officer.

Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said that none of the behavior rose to the level of requiring notification to the Department of Children and Family Services, and no laws were broken. Lemon said the investigation also looked into his previous employment in Coal City schools and found no connection with the investigation at Kaneland.

Hansen has been with the district for 12 years as a physical education and driver’s education teacher, and more recently as a coach of the varsity girl’s softball and boy’s basketball teams.

The separation agreement specifies salary and health benefits payments to Hansen, per the teacher’s contract, through Aug. 31, 2009, and includes an agreement that neither party shall litigate against the other. It also spells out the wording for any references given to future prospective employers in writing. The reference only identifies his dates of employment and that he resigned.

Although the employment reference wording is factual and neutral, School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick explained that, for those in the education industry, that wording would be considered a red flag.

McCormick said the district decided to accept the agreement offered by Hansen in lieu of further investigation and potential termination of his employment for three reasons. First, any additional action could be appealed and overturned; second, it would involve uncomfortable situations for the students, who would be subjected to cross-examination; and three, Hansen’s resignation was the ultimate outcome the board wanted.

The investigation also brought to light a whole range of policies, procedures, climate and culture that will need to be addressed with teachers, students and parents, McCormick said.

“The current technology has outstripped our ethics,” he said.

For example, coaches typically have their students’ phone numbers listed in their cell phones and will use them to text students to notify them of a game cancellation.

Sugar Grove resident and KHS graduate Jennifer Amery, who is the parent of an 8-year-old, said she was not happy with the way the situation was handled. She said that Kaneland could just be passing on its problem to another school.

“How about a big red check on his resume?” she asked.

See the June 11 edition of the Elburn Herald for additional reporting.

Schuler named superintendent for 2010

by Lynn Meredith

The Kaneland School Board approved Jeff Schuler to replace Superintendent Charlie McCormick when McCormick retires in 2010. Schuler has served as Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the past three years.

“I am recommending him to you with a lot of pride, a lot of pleasure and a lot of confidence,” McCormick told the board on Monday. “We are very, very comfortable that we have an internal candidate and do not need to do a search.”

When Schuler was hired, school officials had required all candidates for the position have an endorsement for superintendent on their administrative certificates. They wanted to insure that over time, the person hired could be considered for superintendent.

Schuler will continue as head of Human Resources under the title of Associate Superintendent. During 2009-2010, he will take on additional responsibilities as the district makes the transition between superintendents.

Schuler, who began his career as an elementary teacher, has risen through the ranks. He began as an instructional specialist and gifted teacher in Wheeling. He moved to middle school, where he taught science and social science. He then became a middle school principal and Interim Assistant Superintendent for Staff Services in Northbrook before coming to Kaneland.

Schuler credits mentors along the way who guided him into administration.

“The one thing that I’ve always been blessed with in my career is that I’ve worked for quality people who nurtured me into the postions. I’ve had mentors that have continued into my time at Kaneland,” Schuler said.

Schuler holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Northern Illinois University. At Kaneland, he has coordinated the recruiting and hiring for the distict and supervised the district’s six principals.

The School Board expressed its pleasure at the hiring of Schuler and giving him their vote of confidence.

“You are coming in at a time of many challenges, financially and across the state,” School Board President Lisa Wiet said. “I am sure you are going to drive us forward. I am delighted.”

To hear more about Schuler in his own words, go to www.kaneland.org. Schuler has created an audio podcast to introduce himself to the district.

Noting that there is no lack of candidates with good ideas, Schuler thanked the board for honoring the work he has done in his three years in the district. He left the board with a favorite quote he used with in-coming sixth-graders when he taught.

“You can have the highest ideals, the loftiest goals and dreams, but nothing’s going to work unless you do,” Schuler said. He added, “It’s my pledge to you as a board and to our community that I will work for Kaneland.”

Investigation ongoing into KMS 8th grade basketball complaint

by Mike Slodki

            The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is investigating a complaint filed against a Kaneland Middle School coach by the parents of a student-athlete following an incident at the school on Nov. 12.

            According to Det. Paul Warren of the Kane County Sheriff’s Department, the incident took place between a coach and a player during an eighth grade basketball practice.

            The names of all parties involved were withheld due to the ongoing investigation.

            The complaint stated that the coach pushed the student against a padded wall forcefully. The parents questioned their son about the incident before he told them about being pushed, according to the report.

            The parents later gave Det. Warren a copy of a typed statement by the student.

            According to Warren, the parents had already talked to Kaneland Middle School’s principal and assistant principal, Rick Burchell and Maureen Frawley, and gave them copies of the letter.

            Warren interviewed four students said to be with their teammate at the time of the incident. The detective asked the students to demonstrate on him how hard the victim had been pushed.

            One student gave a detailed description and demonstration of the incident  and said he was surprised by it. Another student said the coach placed his hands on the player because he was yelling at a teammate. The coach then gently pushed back using his hands and gave the team the look to be quiet, according to the student.

            Two more students said they did not see anyone get pushed, and one of those said he first heard of the incident through a text message.

            According to the report, an assistant coach was present but said he did not see an incident.

            On Nov. 14, Warren met with the mother and the player at the KHS gym to demonstrate the incident. The player said he and several other people were yelling about an open player. He said the coach pushed him against the wall and was told to “shut up.”

            Warren received a letter from the coach, who admitted to placing his hand on the player’s shoulder to remove him from the court when he was yelling at another player. The coach said he was trying to move the player from the court, and demonstrate to the player that his role was to coach and the player’s was to play.

            The coach told Warren that he wanted to cooperate completely and get back to coaching, and his gesture at practice was not meant to embarrass or cause injury to anyone.

            On Nov. 17, the detective received a letter signed by 18 of the 20 members of the team saying they wanted the coach to remain in a coaching position. After investigating, Warren referred the family that filed the complaint to the State’s Attorney’s Office.

            Kaneland assistant superintendent for human resources Jeff Schuler said the district cannot discuss anything personnel-related, but said the district was aware of the incident, investigated it and took the appropriate action. Burchell said he was not able to comment on matters of personnel.