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Education

Former Kaneland interim superintendent felt 'disrespected' by 'certain board member'

Ken Sorrick
Ken Sorrick

MAPLE PARK – In a resignation letter to the president of the Kaneland school board, former interim Superintendent Ken Sorrick explained why he left the job after one day, writing that “ ... a certain board member disrespects you, disrespects the superintendent, disrespects the assistant superintendent, disrespected your union representative and disrespected me ... .”

Sorrick was introduced this week at a Kaneland School District 302 Board meeting at Harter Middle School in Sugar Grove. He was named the interim superintendent, as Superintendent Jeff Schuler has left to become the superintendent at Wheaton Warrenville District 200.

A meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday at the district’s offices near Kaneland High School, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, to accept Sorrick’s resignation, with the intention of naming a new interim superintendent. Patrick Crimmins, the vice chairman of the Kaneland Citizens Advisory Committee, wrote in an email that he hopes the board ultimately will turn its focus to three key issues: the superintendent search, securing a new teachers contract and a pending strategic plan.

“All of these issues will affect the children,” Crimmins wrote. “Their cause should be the only concern.”

Sorrick addressed the resignation letter to Cheryl Krauspe, the president of the school board. Though Sorrick doesn’t name the “certain board member” in the letter, a board member, Tony Valente, has said he believed Sorrick resigned because of what Valente said at the meeting.

Sorrick started the letter by writing that he could not sleep the night after the meeting, and “ ... for personal reasons, I just can’t take this job.”

“Having a board member walk out of an executive session when we are talking about the superintendent search and accusing us of unethical behavior is not the way I want to start a job,” Sorrick wrote. “I understand that he is just one board member, but he is not interested in advancing the educational process ... .” He wrote that the board member “is interested in sabotaging the organization. I do not want to work in such a hostile environment.”

Valente said the resignation letter was “something that’s unheard of.”

“I’ve never, ever, given a letter like that to anybody when I’ve resigned,” Valente said.

Of the resignation itself, Valente said it was “not very professional to take a position and then resign the next day.”

Valente said superintendents should understand that they might have to deal with criticism as part of the job. He said “experienced superintendents know how to do it and do it well.”

“If it’s a challenge to work with people who are experts in the field, I think you shouldn’t have taken the job in the first place,” said Valente, who is a principal at Proviso East High School in Maywood.

Crimmins called the situation “a mess all around.” He wrote that Sorrick could have found a way to work through the perceived issues, especially with compensation of $90,000 for 100 days of work. He also wanted to know whether the “current dysfunction of the board” had been discussed with Sorrick before he accepted the job. He also wrote that Sorrick should have asked about the state of the board before accepting the position.

At the recent meeting, Valente brought up the 100 days that Sorrick would be available and criticized the plan that Sorrick would complete the 100 days by working a full schedule early. Sorrick wrote that it was upsetting that Valente brought that up at the meeting.

“The media should have been talking to Jeff [Schuler] on all the good things he did for the district,” Sorrick wrote. “This was his last board meeting, and in all my life I have never seen a board member treat a superintendent with so much disrespect.”

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