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No. 4 of 2012: Entire school board dumped in North Chicago

Never before in the history of the state was an entire school board been summarily dismissed, but that’s exactly what happened this summer, when the ouster of all seven members of the North Chicago Community Unit School District 187 Board was ordered by state schools Superintendent Christopher Koch.

In the 3,766 student-North Chicago district, Koch cited the “board’s failure to make decisions that are in the best interests of the students.”

The District 187 board majority made several decisions that reportedly displeased Koch and placed the district’s finances in jeopardy, including the issuance of $40 million in alternate revenue bonds, and the denial of a proposed charter school.

LEARN Charter, which opened in September on land leased from Naval Station Great Lakes, is intended, in part, to stop the exodus of Navy families from the district and thereby ensure the continuation of an estimated $6 million in federal super- impact aid.

The district has been plagued by turnover among top administrators, with six superintendents over the past decade. The last permanent superintendent, Milton Thompson, was fired in August after a little more than a year on the job.

Interim Superintendent Ben Martindale, former chief of the Gurnee Grade School District and who previously served as state liaison to District 187, is now in charge. Two appointed bodies, each including three residents of the district, will also weigh-in on decisions. A Financial Oversight Panel includes Chairman David Agazzi, Shaunese Teamer, Hornsby Kneeland, Adrienne Riley, and Cheryl Crates. The Independent Authority includes Chairman Dora King, Evelyn Alexander, Graham Cook, Shajuana Goshton, and Jerry Hieb.

Agazzi is A former deputy chief operating officer for Chicago public schools and currently serves as vice president for administrative affairs for the College of Lake County.

In another unhappy chapter, District 187’s former board president, Gloria Harper was sentenced in February to 30 months in prison for conspiring to defraud a federal technology program for economically disadvantaged school districts, a scheme in which she stole an estimated $4.5 million, including funds that should have gone to North Chicago schools.

Harper, along with former District 187 director of transportation, Alice Sherrod and several other defendants are currently under indictment on an alleged North Chicago school busing kickback scheme.

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