Bhavna Sharma-Lewis (File 2014)

Irreconcilable differences.

That’s why the Riverside Elementary School District 96 Board of Education and superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis are parting ways at the end of the school year, at least according to a press release issued Tuesday night.

The tumultuous and brief reign of Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis in Riverside Elementary School District 96 will officially come to an end on June 30.

On Tuesday night the District 96 Board of Education voted 6 to 1 to approve a separation agreement and release of claims between the board and Sharma-Lewis.

Art Perry, Sharma-Lewis’s only supporter left on the school board, cast the only vote opposing the separation agreement. After the meeting, Perry declined to comment when asked about his vote.

No one was saying much Tuesday night. The vote was taken without discussion and immediately after the vote school board President Mary Rose Mangia, with Sharma-Lewis sitting right next to her, read a short press release and statement.

“On March 17, 2015, by mutual agreement, the Board of Education of Riverside School District 96 and Superintendent Bhavna Sharma-Lewis decided to end their contractual relationship, effective June 30, 2015, as a result of differences in direction that could not be reconciled,” the press release read by Mangia stated.

“The board of education acknowledges Dr. Sharma-Lewis’s vision, resilience, and ability to problem solve in challenging situations and thanks her for her contribution to School District No. 96. In turn, Dr. Sharma-Lewis would like to thank and commend the past present community members, parents, board of education, administration, staff and students for maximizing the success of the students of School District No. 96.”

Mangia went on to say that Sharma-Lewis will be paid through June 30, 2015. Her contract was scheduled to expire one year later, on June 30, 2016.

No member of the school board would comment Tuesday night. Sharma-Lewis also declined to comment after the meeting. Sharma-Lewis’s husband attended the meeting.

The separation agreement was not made immediately available and the Landmark was told, after Mangia checked with Sharma-Lewis, that the newspaper would have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain a copy of the agreement. The newspaper did so Wednesday morning.

Mangia also read a prepared statement saying that the board will begin a search for an interim superintendent.

“The board’s commitment to exceptional learning at District 96 is guiding our search for an experienced and well-credentialed interim superintendent,” Mangia said. “We will hire a highly qualified interim as soon as possible. We seek a smooth transition that will support great learning and strengthened academic achievement.”

Sharma-Lewis will not be leaving Riverside for another job. Also on Tuesday night, the Skokie School District 69 Board of Education announced it had hired Dr. Margaret Clauson, who presently is assistant superintendent in Wilmette School District 39 as its new suprintendent.

Clauson and Sharma-Lewis were announced as finalists for the job earlier this month. The District 69 board has called a special meeting for Thursday, March 19 to approve a contract with Clauson.

“[Clauson’s] collegial and inclusive nature as well as her expertise in human resouces and curriculum make her the ideal the candidate to lead the district moving forward,” said District 69 school board President Terri Lefler.


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