Wednesday, June 7, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Last month, the newly configured Bellwood District 88 school board voted 6 to 1 to place Supt. Rosemary Hendricks on paid administrative leave “pending investigation.” Former board president Marilyn Thurmond was the only dissenting vote.
This month, the district’s human resources director, Dr. Kisha McCaskill, got the axe. In addition to her HR job McCaskill had also held down a full-time job as executive director of the Harvey Park District. Her husband, Anthony McCaskill, was the park district board president.
McCaskill is also a member of the Harvey School District 152 school board. As with the Hendricks vote, Thurmond was the only member to vote against McCaskill’s termination. Board member Annie Copeland wasn’t present for the vote.
McCaskill is just the latest casualty of April’s election, when reform candidates Maria Perez, Deborah Giles and Dorothy Clark-Smith won seats to the 7-person school board and upset a board majority that was largely responsible for keeping Hendricks, and the many apparent patronage hires and contracts she and Thurmond oversaw, in place.
Perez, Giles and Clark-Smith have joined with new board president Sondra McClendon — a vocal opponent of Thurmond and Hendricks — in slowly reinstating defunct board policies, terminating employees with apparent conflicts of interest or whose jobs seem to be due to relationships with top administrators — all issues that the three new board members ran on. The district didn’t cite any specific reason for McCaskill’s termination, since it’s a personnel matter.
According to a D88 official, the district has found a temporary replacement for McCaskill but that person hasn’t been formally introduced. The official also said that the Hendricks investigation is ongoing.
In addition to terminating McCaskill, the school board also voted unanimously to authorize a contract for Interim Superintendent Mark Holder, who was instated last month after Hendricks was placed on leave.
This is the third time that Hendricks has exited the district. According to a Cook County Chronicle report, Hendricks has “revolved in and out of the district three times in 10 years, as nine superintendents came and went in 15 years.
“She was first hired in 2007, then resigned with a $75,000 settlement. Hendricks was rehired by the board in 2010, but then fired for misconduct two years later and sued the district, which later settled for $45,000. Hendricks was brought back as an interim, but then the board bypassed a search and awarded a two-year, $170,000 contract to Hendricks, as parents complained.”
Along with personnel changes, the D88 board, at McClendon’s urging, also reinstated monthly committee meetings that had been discontinued under Thurmond.
“Those meetings were important because a lot of questions we had about bills and other matters could get answered during those meetings,” McClendon said.
The board president added that the committee meetings, which would include all board members, would be dedicated to detailed discussion on action items that would be up for votes at the regular meetings. McClendon said that this would cut short the length of those regular meetings.
The meeting change will start in July, when the board is expected to begin discussion of possibly approving a travel expense control resolution. VFP