A vote of no confidence in the District 111 superintendent and principal by Minooka High School teachers union has added another major issue to an already overwhelmed board of education.
Minooka Education Association President Dennis Grosskopf presented the no confidence vote by high school educators to the board in front of a crowd of nearly 100 teachers on Thursday. The teachers union voted the previous evening on whether or not they had confidence in the administration. Of the 160 Minooka High School teachers, 132 voted. Of those, 126 had no confidence in Supt. Jim Colyott and six had confidence in him. On the question of confidence in Principal Darcie Kubinski, 118 voted no confidence, nine had confidence and five abstained.
The problem, which has plagued the school over the past two years, is that educators are unclear about the expectations of the administration.
"We are working in an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty where we are constantly looking over our shoulders," Grosskopf told the board of education. "We want to do what is best but we are unclear of what that is."
Teachers work in fear of being disciplined for not performing correctly and lack clear guidance from the administration to make the right decisions, he said. In turn, the focus is being taken off the students where it belongs."As educators we need a safe environment where we can focus on teaching," Grosskopf said.
In 2010, the district, with the help of community stakeholders, completed a lengthy process of creating a strategic plan. Grosskopf cited three of the goals that the district is not maintaining — a safe environment focused on learning, staff and organizational effectiveness and shared accountability of the district's mission.
"Over the past two years not only have we moved away from these goals, we are at opposite ends," Grosskopf said.
Colyott was hired as superintendent in July 2011 and Kubinski as principal in August 2012.
While Grosskopf was speaking on behalf of educators, board member Karen Buchanan walked out of the meeting, an action teachers took as directed toward them, they said after the meeting.
Buchanan responded to the matter the following day, saying she was removing herself from a situation she feared was going to breach the rights of some administrators.
"I was not walking out on the teachers," Buchanan said. "I support the teachers and staff and appreciate the fine group of individuals that work at District 111."
The union has asked the board of education to conduct an investigation into the cause of the negative environment and create and implement an action plan that aligns with the district's goals.
Grosskopf went into closed session with the board later that evening to further discuss the vote and the issues that led to it.
In a phone call that night, Grosskopf said that while the no confidence vote has no legal standing, it's a statement from the certified staff members about their working environment.
"I think it speaks for itself," Grosskopf said. "We have given our input. We really hope they take it to heart."
Board President Mike Brozovich, in an email, said he is taking the statement very seriously, as he does all comments from the school's stakeholders.
Brozovich said he is concerned about the morale of teachers and the effect it could have on students. He and the board of education will "take all necessary steps" to ensure the schools create the most productive, effective and positive learning experience for students.
"We will continue to work tirelessly to achieve this goal," he said.