GENEVA – On the last day of school Monday, a handful of parents stood in the parking lot of St. Peter Catholic School in Geneva, waiting for Principal Roseann Feldmann.
Feldmann had been fired after five years as the school’s principal, and the parents of students at the school were waiting to help Feldmann pack her personal things into her car.
Joan Bettag, 44, of Maple Park, said many parents were outraged at the firing of Feldmann, a popular principal.
“For over 15 years at this school, all five of our children have gone here,” Bettag said. “Benjamin just finished fourth grade, and next year, he’s going to St. Mary’s in Sycamore.”
Bettag said Feldmann’s contract allowed her to be at the school through June 30, but on the last day of school, the Rev. Martins C. Emeh told her to clean out her personal items and leave.
Bettag and other mothers complained that officials locked them out of the school and would not help Feldmann carry her things out to the car.
Emeh did not return a voicemail message, email or respond to a business card left at the rectory. Bettag said many parents wrote letters to the Rockford Diocese in an attempt to get the firing reversed – to no avail.
“The diocese cannot comment on the situation because it is a parish personnel issue,” Diocese spokeswoman Penny Wiegert said.
An emotional Feldmann said she was told March 19 that her contract was not being renewed.
“It’s amazing. Today was an amazing day,” Feldmann said. “It should be one of the saddest in my life, but the support parents have given me ever since March 19, but especially Friday through today, was absolutely incredible – absolutely incredible. These people have made what should be one of the worst times in my life totally bearable.”
Feldmann, who will turn 62 Wednesday, said she does not know where she will work next because school principal positions generally are already filled this late in the year.
Feldmann said she has been an administrator in the Rockford Diocese for 14 years, including three years as assistant principal at St. Mary’s in DeKalb and six years as principal at St. Mary’s in Sycamore.
Before becoming an administrator, Feldmann was a science teacher who co-authored six books on science, taught science methods at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb and wrote a
science curriculum for a school district in Crystal Lake.
Elizabeth Bettag, 18, a St. Peter graduate, said she had Feldmann as principal for one year.
She came out Monday to provide support.
“She really made a positive impact on me,” Elizabeth Bettag said. “She just made a big impact, even in one year, with her kindness. She is willing to talk to anyone. She knows every kid in the school by name – 481 kids go here right now. She knows everyone by name, is very welcoming, very interested in how everyone’s day is going. She’s always been very supportive.”
While the firing has prompted some parents to send their children elsewhere next year, others said they were still deciding what to do.
Among the undecided was Robert Everett of North Aurora, whose daughter just finished third grade at St. Peter.
“We are evaluating our options,” Everett said. “We felt that Ms. Feldmann embodied the characteristics of someone we wanted educating and molding our daughter.”