One retired educator will apparently replace Mary Polk as the director of special education at Riverside Elementary School District 96 this year and another retiree will help her by serving as a special education program and system evaluator.
On Oct. 4, District 96 parents were notified that Pat Folland would begin work on Oct. 7 as the interim director of special education.
Folland worked as division administrator for special education for the Illinois State Board of Education from 2003 to 2010. She has 35 years of experience working in special education as a teacher, program coordinator, principal and district-level administrator, according to an email sent to district principals and parents by Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis.
Peggy King, who retired in June as the director of special education for Glen Ellyn Community Consolidated School District 89, will help Folland by evaluating the district’s special education program. King also started working on Monday.
“They have both been classroom teachers, program coordinators and special education administrators, and each comes with over 30 years of experience,” Sharma-Lewis said in an email to the Landmark. “Both were highly recommended by their colleagues for their skills, leadership and professionalism. They both have strong organizational and communication skills, vast leadership experiences and the ability to manage systems, processes and procedures that support special education best practices.”
As retirees neither Folland nor King is expected to work full time, because retirees can only work a certain number of days and still receive their pensions.
The school board still must officially approve the hires at their Oct. 15 meeting. The salaries for the two new administrators will be determined at that meeting, Sharma-Lewis said. Typically retirees are paid a daily salary.
The new hires are one more indication that Polk will not return to work for District 96. Although Sharma-Lewis said in her Friday email that Polk’s leave was for personal reasons, more than one school board member has acknowledged that Polk was relieved of her duties because of concerns about her job performance.
The Landmark has learned that top district administrators were dissatisfied with Polk’s job performance.
Sharma-Lewis declined to directly address that subject when asked by the Landmark whether she expected Polk to return to work for District 96.
“This is a personnel matter and it is inappropriate for me to comment on a staff member’s leave of absence,” Sharma-Lewis said in her email.
Polk has a one-year contract that expires on June 30, 2014 and pays her $128,685 a year. Polk is currently on paid leave.
The Landmark has learned that she has been offered a separation agreement, and she is apparently considering her options. Polk is believed to have hired a lawyer to represent her.
Under her contract Polk has the right to have hearing before the District 96 Board of Education if the district is trying to terminate her. Polk could not be reached for comment.