Five weeks after cleaning out her office, the principal of L.J. Hauser Junior High School in Riverside has officially resigned.
On Tuesday night at a special meeting, the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education voted 6-0 to accept the resignation of Leslie Berman from her post as the principal at Hauser.
The board approved a severance agreement with Berman. The details of the agreement have not yet been disclosed. When the Landmark asked for a copy of the agreement, school board President Mary Rose Mangia told the Landmark that it should file a Freedom of Information Act request, which the Landmark has now done.
Lawyers for the school board and Berman have been in negotiations since Berman walked away from her job in on Jan. 8. That day was the first day school was back in session after winter break; two days of school had been canceled earlier that week because of cold and snow.
It appears that Sharma-Lewis had begun a formal evaluation Berman, and it was widely believed among insiders that Berman would not be retained after her one-year contract expired at the end of June. Performance and management at Hauser was a concern. A recent district survey showed that parents were less satisfied with Hauser than with the elementary schools in the district.
While some parents liked Berman, many others had issues with the way she ran Hauser. She was hired as principal by former Superintendent Jonathan Lamberson in 2006.
Also on Tuesday night, the school board approved a settlement agreement with Blythe Park School Principal Robert Chleboun, who announced last month that he was resigning at the end of the 2013-14 school year. A copy of that agreement also was not provided to the Landmark last night.
District 96 Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis declined to comment Tuesday night when asked about how she felt about Berman resigning. Mangia was also tight-lipped.
“I wish them well,” Mangia said, referring to Berman and Chleboun.
Berman was the fourth administrator in District 96 to resign since Sharma-Lewis took over as superintendent on July 1. Director of Technology Vern Bettis abruptly resigned last month and Special Education Director Mary Polk resigned in November with a severance package after being placed on administrative leave. Chleboun is the only one of the four departing administrators who is completing the year, and the term of his contract.
Chleboun was generally held in high regard. He seems to be extremely well-liked and respected by most Blythe Park parents, many of whom are upset over his impending departure.
Berman, Chleboun, Bettis and Polk all retained the same lawyer to represent them. That lawyer, Steven Glinke, raised the possibility of filing an age discrimination complaint on Berman’s behalf, but Berman weakened her negotiating position by walking away from her job.
It is not clear if current Hauser Junior High Assistant Principal Stacy Westin will be appointed acting principal now that Berman is officially gone.
“We’ll have to discuss that,” Sharma-Lewis said.