Former principal rescinds request for unpaid leave

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PROSPECT — Days after submitting a request for an unpaid leave of absence, former Algonquin School Principal rescinded it. However, the rescission doesn’t change the fact the long-time Region 16 administrator will no longer be the school’s principal.

“The bottom line is she will not be returning to the school for the balance of the school year,” interim Superintendent of Schools Tim James said.

Patterson was the subject of a personnel investigation by James, which concluded March 8. School officials have repeatedly declined to comment on what specifically was being investigated saying it was a personnel matter. Officials have said it was not an issue that affected the safety of the students.

Patterson was placed on administrative leave with pay Feb. 29 while James conducted the investigation. James met with Patterson on March 8 to go over his findings. At the meeting, Patterson, who already planned to retire June 30, submitted a request for an unpaid leave of absence for personal reasons through June 30 and her retirement letter.

On March 13, Patterson withdrew the request for an unpaid leave through an e-mail sent to James.

James said he discussed the stipulations of the leave with Patterson’s attorney and they reached an agreement for a modified leave.

Patterson will be receiving some compensation during her absence. But it was unclear what and how much. James declined to comment on the details of the agreement.

“We have worked with her attorney to come up with a stipulated agreement for a modified leave of absence,” James said.

The Board of Education accepted Patterson’s letter of retirement at its March 14 meeting. The leave will be handled administratively, James explained.

Andrea Einhorn, the district’s curriculum director and assistant director of special education, has been serving as interim principal at Algonquin. The district is currently looking for an interim principal to lead the school until the new elementary school is open in Prospect in a couple of years.

Copies of Patterson’s personnel file were obtained through a Freedom of Information request. The district did not provide evaluations, citing that those are exempt.

The file didn’t contain any disciplinary actions. It did include two memos about her past behavior with a student and her handling of transfers/placements of students between classrooms.

According to a memo by former Superintendent James Agostine on Nov. 1, 2010, parents and teachers reported to him that her behavior and tone were “excessive and inappropriate” in dealing with a kindergarten boy who was upset about going home on a school bus. He stated that this type of response is never to be repeated, and any future reports will result in disciplinary actions up to and including suspension/termination.

Patterson has several letters from past superintendents commending her on how she assisted in helping students cope with a fellow student’s death, and on how she handled teacher evaluations. In 2002, the school board recognized her as an exemplary person for the “sensitivity, compassion and professionalism” she displayed in helping the school to cope with the death of a young student.

The Republican American contributed to this article.