Come out of the bunker

Opinion: Editorials

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By Editorial

If the Riverside School District 96 Board of Education believes it can simply weather the controversy regarding the actions of one of its principals by simply huddling in a bunker, it's mistaken.

Since the Landmark exposed the complicated, outrageous series of events that led to the termination of a part-time teacher in the fall of 2011, members of the school board have failed to either grasp the extent of the outrage or willingly disbelieve all of the inconsistencies leading to their conclusion that all is well.

Dozens of people appeared at the District 96 board meeting in late November. And while a warning speech given by the board president had its intended effect of muting public questions or comments related to the matter, the board's handling of the one question that did get asked is a forehead slapper.

What is boils down to is this: Even if the board believes that the teacher's termination is unrelated to the criminal charges reported against her; even if the board believes the principal did the right thing in reporting the accusations of sexual abuse against the teacher to the police; then how on earth was the teacher allowed to remain in a classroom inside Ames School for two full weeks after police were notified of the accusations?

Were children at risk or were they not? Did the principal dutifully follow policies laid out by the district, as she did in reporting the matter to police in the first place, or did she apply the policies in a selective way?

Is there any sanction for selectively applying policies, especially when it comes to grave criminal accusations against people who are in contact with children on a daily basis? If so, how was the principal disciplined for allowing that to happen?

The board president's response to this question?

"We're not going to tell you."

The public is getting tired of the stonewalling.

If the board thought it could limit the distribution of the police report around which this whole issue swirls, they already know that it was email blasted over the weekend to more than 80 people in Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside — the board members were copied on the email. Maybe they'll get around to reading it this time.

Because the fact remains that the termination of the teacher and the accusations laid out in the police report, while the board may want to believe them to be separate events, are inextricably linked.

And a reading of the police report leads to one of two conclusions — either people should be going to jail for committing heinous acts against children (a conclusion rejected by multiple police and social service agencies) or someone purposely tried to destroy the reputations and careers of innocent people.

The board cannot hide from its duty to confront the whole story. The community should not let them.

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Reader Comments

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thanks chris   

Posted: December 18th, 2012 3:38 PM

The problem still remains- LEIGGI is to blame for using her own children and others to get what she wants. Read the facts!

question and answer  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 10:07 AM

The only sick person here is Colleen Lieggi. She reported allegations to the police against the teacher and then kept that teacher in the classroom for two weeks after she made the police report. How can our children be safe at school if she allowed this to happen? The sad truth is that the public has to investigate this matter because Lamberson and the board cannot or will not.

Divided?  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 8:20 AM

It disturbs me to see so many attack those who want truth from public officials charged with the care of children. When tough issues are dealt with the community benefits. If not we become divided. Often, when truth divides, much has been misrepresented or misinterpreted and we need stronger leaders.

Ames parent from Riverside  

Posted: December 18th, 2012 7:39 AM

Take a breath, Robling. No one said you foia'd on behalf of anyone. And you might want to rethink your definition of "e-mail blast." You sent it to 30-40 people? You exploited two young girls with that one action. With that one action, you showed that you will stop at nothing to take a person down, even of it means harming innocent CHILDREN. You don't have any respect for our community. And you won't affect change with actions like that made to intentionally hurt others. Sick, sick person.

Christopher FitzHenry Robling from Riverside, Illinois  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 9:15 PM

1. i did not FOIA the report on behalf of the Landmark. The Landmark knows this and so do i. The Landmark, quite obviously, did its own solid reporting. 2. i have not been "email blasting." i sent one email with attachment to a group email chain started by someone else. there are perhaps 30 - 40 addresses on that chain. 3. folks who post should check to be sure that what they say is accurate.

question and answer  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 3:24 PM

There are simply too many questions surrounding this incident. Colleen needs to leave; she can't recover from this. And the board can't be trusted to review this on its own-there needs to be an independent investigation.

To Kristen Bell  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 2:38 PM

Chris Robling foia'd the police report - not the Landmark. Chris Robling has been email blasting the police report - not the Landmark. Be mad at Chris Robling. Not sure why the police department didn't take the time to review the work they were about to release. Not only was a name missed, but there might have been a HIPAA vioaltion or 2 by allowing the disclosure of some medications and conditions.

Blame  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 2:31 PM

Why are you blaming the Landmark for distribution of the report? It was Chris Robling and two others in our own community. Fueled by our do-nothing-and-hope-it-goes-away school board. And I don't see how the reporters could have gotten around identifying the girls.

Kirsten Bell  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 2:14 PM

Clearly it's very tragic and heartbreaking, and we all hope truth and justice are served. To my original point, blacking out the names is not enough to eliminate identifying information in this high profile case. And even it was, they should go back and check their work, because in at least one instance the name was not blacked out. No matter where you stand on this issue, you cannot use any of it to justify recklessly distributing these reports. We canceled our subscription to the Landmark.

A different Ames parent  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 1:01 PM

To Kristen Bell: The names were blacked out on the police report. And regarding privacy---perhaps the girls' mother should have thought about the implications and complications to her daughters before she filed false police reports.

shameful from north riverside  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 10:23 AM

Ms. Bell do you know what is shameful? someone using their authority and children to falsely accuse people in her school and community of disgusting acts against children. Trying to have them arrested and getting the fired. Now that is shameful.

Kirsten Bell, Ames Parent from Riverside  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 9:33 AM

I am appalled police reports were distributed with disregard for the minors involved. The FOIA states:"Under the Juvenile Court Act, a public body is required to withhold information identifying an alleged minor victim of a sex crime." If you read the report, were you able to identify the minors? I'm not a lawyer, but it seems those involved (police, Landmark, email blasters) have legally and morally failed the children involved. Fight your fight, but not at the expense of a child's heart.

Constructive Action  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 7:51 AM

If you want constructive action, I assure you, it's coming.

Does it matter? from Riverside  

Posted: December 17th, 2012 7:35 AM

You've already read it and distributed it all over god's creation, thereby exploiting the girls as much as anyone involved here. Does it really matter at this point whether you're allowed to read it? A Class A misdemeanor is the equivalent of a traffic ticket. If you are truly standing for the community and our kids, I think you can handle the "bullying" and "threats." I've never seen a more pathetic community movement. So much whining, excuses, and gossip and so little constructive action.

To: Huh from north riverside  

Posted: December 16th, 2012 1:19 PM

It's an excellent question. They've made this threat several times, and yet, who has been arrested? Don't you think people would have been arrested if this were true? It seems to me that the board is simply following the (bad) advice of their attorneys in order to bully community members to keep quiet.

huh? from north riverside  

Posted: December 15th, 2012 9:19 PM

A friend got a letter back from the BOE. They are saying reading the report is a "class A misdemeanor" huh? Is this true? Why would the police release the report? Sounds like the board members are hiding behind a lot of lies.

Joanne Rogers  

Posted: December 13th, 2012 5:56 PM

The next district board meeting is Tuesday, December 18. I would encourage everyone who wants answers to attend and to comment at the meeting. I think you can simply stand up, identify yourself as a district resident, and state that you have questions surrounding what occurred in September of 2011 at Ames, and you want the board to address them openly and honestly with the community.. Let's not allow them to intimidate us.

Why isn't Lamberson accountable  

Posted: December 13th, 2012 5:21 PM

Why isn't Lamberson accountable to us? I get that he should be accountable to the school board, but since the school board for years has let him do whatever he pleased, they have shirked their responsibility. He should be accountable to us. We pay his salary.

Must be accountable from Riverside  

Posted: December 13th, 2012 5:12 PM

42% of our tax bill goes directly to district 96 and they should be held accountable for their actions by the residents. I have no children in district 96 but I do have a sizable investment in their success. Parents and residents need to take action and demand answers, it is not good enough to tell us it is handled, we are not children. This whole board is accountable to us not Lambertson and the lawyers so now is the time to stand up and be counted. I truly hope your paying attention.

Why oh why  

Posted: December 13th, 2012 2:56 PM

Why should Colleen be allowed to continue as the top Ames administrator? Is she trustworthy? My answer: NO. And while I'm at it, why should Lamberson be allowed to stay on? He has proved not be able to be trusted, too. Neither one of these people should be allowed to continue in an sort of capacity. They do not have any integrity, so vital to be a leader.

march 2013 from north riverside  

Posted: December 13th, 2012 7:45 AM

I think the board renews contracts in March. No new contract for Lieggi!

Jeanne Ottenweller from Riverside  

Posted: December 12th, 2012 9:19 PM

This entire episode is an embarassment and blemish on the wonderful community that Riverside / North Riverside is. It is amazing that as a professional, Colleen Lieggi showed such a lack of judgement and ethics, beginning with hiring one of her employees to babysit her children. My children had some excellent teachers at Ames, including Ms. Battersby, and in order to continue that tradition of excellence, the principal and those school board members that supported her need to be replaced.

If they had a good answer...  

Posted: December 12th, 2012 7:43 PM

...they'd have already told it to the public. Lieggi didn't remove the teacher from the classroom because she knew the charges were false when she reported them. I believe she fired the teacher because the teacher wouldn't go along with her scheme to get her child in the gifted program. OF COURSE this is a personnel issue. We don't need this kind of principal. In this case, the board's silence only damns them further.

i agree from north riverside  

Posted: December 12th, 2012 7:32 PM

i so agree with this letter. I am still very confused with the board. I dont understand their reasoning behind that this is lieggi's personal issue and not a personnel? This teacher was employed and under lieggi's leadership she was working with in the school when this went down. Lamberson was involved what is the board talking about?

Joanne Rogers  

Posted: December 12th, 2012 7:14 AM

Amen.

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