We attended the District 96 Board of Education meeting on Nov. 27 hoping to get some answers about what the board is doing to investigate an incident at Ames School that was the subject of a recent Landmark article on Oct. 24.
Two attorneys representing the district administration were also present at the board meeting (at the taxpayer’s expense). One question was asked by a community member. That question was whether the district had a policy regarding the treatment of teachers accused of abusing children. The superintendent responded affirmatively.
The district administration was then asked if that policy required the immediate suspension of the teacher from school. The superintendent again responded affirmatively. The board was then asked whether that policy was followed with respect to an incident from last year.
In unison, the board president and the superintendent responded that they were not going to answer that question. So much for open, transparent communication with the public.
In response to a letter we wrote, the board informed us that they had fully investigated the Battersby incident. The Landmark article has made it clear that Principal Lieggi, in a complaint to the Riverside Police Department, accused Susan Battersby (an Ames teacher) of sexual abuse of children on Sept. 14, 2011 (allegations the police later determined to be baseless).
Principal Lieggi then allowed Ms. Battersby to remain teaching at Ames School for another two weeks before firing her. Why did Principal Lieggi knowingly permit a teacher accused of sexual abuse to remain at Ames School for two weeks before firing her?
What does the board and district administration really know about whether Principal Lieggi violated its policy regarding the immediate dismissal of teachers accused of sexual abuse? Is there a special exception for principals?
This community is not getting answers from the board. The board and district administration have refused to respond to the Landmark’s inquiries on this issue. The board and district administration have refused to respond at their own meeting in which they solicited public comment.
The board has indicated that it has fully investigated this incident but offered no results of their investigation. If the board and district administration followed their own policy and dismissed Ms. Battersby immediately from her teaching position, they would be vocal, loud and proud of their actions. Their silence is deafening.
The board, the district administration and their attorneys seem to have little interest in the truth and prefer to use all their energy to cover up the truth. Why? Doesn’t our community have a right to know if the board allowed the district administration to ignore its own policies and endangered the safety of our students? Who is accountable for making sure that policies created for the protection of our students while at school are enforced?
We need accountability and an answer from the board: Did you follow your policy regarding the immediate removal of a teacher accused of child abuse in this incident?
Mary Lescher and Robert Bartolone