Student Council leaders Will Elliott and Erica O’Neil reported that students were “incredibly excited” that sports, including basketball and football, were resuming and said that the Senior Student Council was working with the Association of Parents and Teachers (APT) on senior class appreciation activities. Dr. Chala Holland spoke about how LFHS staff have been very flexible in trying to accommodate student learning preference changes and said information on which teachers are in-person and which are remote was available in the PowerSchool system. She also noted that fewer students are choosing to attend school in-person for reasons ranging from health and safety concerns to a preference for remote learning. She stated that students would soon be surveyed about their preferred learning model, with the survey devoting special attention to seniors and their needs.
Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger Executive Summary Report
Attorney Rebecca Leitman Veidlinger summarized the independent investigation regarding sexual misconduct allegations involving a former teacher.
Her three-part review comprised a look at the adequacy of the District’s response to the allegations, a climate assessment of current circumstances that was based on interviews and a District-wide online survey of students, parents, and employees, and an evaluation of the District’s policies, reporting structures and practices, sexual abuse prevention education, and training related to inappropriate sexual conduct by staff members toward students. Vedlinger's final report included thirteen recommendations.
Ahead of the presentation, Board President David Lane, shared this statement:
“In July 2020, the Lake Forest District 115 Board of Education voted to retain a nationally renowned investigator of sexual misconduct in response to a complaint raised by an LFHS alum that a former staff member had an inappropriate relationship with him several decades ago while he was an LFHS student. This report is a result of that effort.”
“The Board opted to pursue a thorough third-party review after local police concluded that no charges would be filed due to the passage of the statute of limitations to fully assess the District’s past responses to allegations of inappropriate conduct and to examine the District’s current policies and procedures for responding to such allegations in a timely and appropriate manner.
“While the report outlines the many steps the District has already taken to enhance our responsiveness to allegations of inappropriate behavior, we are committed to taking further action to ensure we maintain a safe learning environment for all. The safety and well-being of our students is our highest responsibility as educators and school leaders,” Lane said.
Superintendent Search Update Report
Board member Jenny Zinser reported that with the hunt on for a new superintendent following Michael Simeck’s resignation, the District 115 and 67 Boards hired Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates (HYA) to handle the search after a recommendation from an ad-hoc subcommittee comprised of three members from each Board was made.
HYA President Max McGee spoke to the Board, stating that HYA was already receiving inquiries. Currently HYA is in the “engage” stage of the process. An online survey was offered to the community, students, and staff, and interviews were underway with each of the District 67 and District 115 Board members. He said that up to 25 focus group meetings would also be scheduled as well as community and/or staff forums. McGee said he expected HYA would present the Boards with a list of candidates by late March. Two or three finalists were expected to be chosen by Spring Break with visits and community forums to follow. A new superintendent, McGee said, was to be in place by July 1.
Saying there was “quite a bit of good news,” Superintendent Simeck launched his reopening report. First, however, he saluted Human Resources Director Pete Theis for receiving the Illinois Association of School Personnel Administrators 2020-2021 Mentor Award and reported that Principal Holland had been selected Lake Region High School Principal of the Year by Horace Mann and the Illinois Principals Association. Dr. Holland now joined other regional winners being considered for statewide honors.
Mr. Simeck, and other administrators reported on the status of voluntary COVID-19 testing, vaccinations, IDPH travel guidance, and planning for school this spring.
Dr. Patrick Sassen, Director of Educational Services, reported on the Class of 2020’s path after graduation. The class was “thrown into a shifting admissions landscape” by the pandemic, requiring some tough decisions. He stated that many students deferred college for a year, with upcoming surveys expected to provide even more clarity on that. Overall, he said, the majority of LFHS students attend two- or four-year colleges and would be spread out across the country and world. He also reported that Educational Services had expanded programming for students to pursue multiple pathways after high school.
Extracurricular Activities Report
Student Activities Director Ashleigh Malec updated the Board on extracurricular activities including clubs and sports. There were currently 50 clubs meeting in a hybrid model, remotely, or in-person. She stated that such activities allowed students to stay connected to the high school, even if they were remote. She added that the goal was to achieve 90 percent student participation. Athletic Director Timothy Burkhalter thanked his team as sports, including those delayed by COVID-19, ramped up. “We know that on the social emotional front, the athletic piece is a highlight of [students’] day and we’re going to continue to do everything we can to support those endeavors,” he said.
Dr. Holland reported that the committee met December 16 and focused on how to create an inclusive learning environment. The committee is next meeting February 17 to discuss remote learning beyond the pandemic.
Finance and Operations Committee
Sally Davis, committee chair, reported that the committee met January 28 and discussed the external audit report for the school year ending June 30, 2020. That report, which the Board approved later in the meeting, received “an unmodified clean opinion, the highest level of assurance” auditors can bestow.
Jenny Zinser, committee member, reported that the committee was working to align District 67 and District 115 policies including communication to and from the Board of Education and on how written comments from community members would be addressed at Board meetings.
ED-RED Legislative Update
John Noble, legislative liaison, reported that updates on legislative priorities were sent to the District 67 District 65 Boards to get their support on improving regulations and limiting state government’s pressure.
Ted Moorman, NSSED liaison, reminded the Board that NSSED was changing its name to True North Educational Cooperative 804.
Monday, March 8, 2021 – 7 p.m.