Over an hour and a half Tuesday, school board members heard many an impassioned plea not to approve staff transfers, but voting on personnel matters became so complicated that the outcome won't be known until Board Secretary Craig Smith reviews the tape.
Speakers told of stress over short notice of the transfers. Supporters of a principal slated to be moved submitted petitions with 600 signatures. A master teacher who said she is the only Spanish speaker in Early Childhood Services deplored her transfer out of the program to become a teacher in an elementary school.
Anita Gaur, a library media specialist at Plainfield High School since 2005, pleaded with the board not to send her to another school. The 9 p.m. phone call she received Friday night informing her of the transfer caused her blood sugar to spike, she said. Gaur described how she transformed the library to a place where "everybody is engaged in learning" and called it "my home, my soul."
"Please let me stay with my students - this is my house," she said to applause from about 100 staff members and parents who attended the meeting.
The hour allotted to public comment was extended another half hour as speakers, some requiring a translator, poured out their concerns. Eric Jones, president of the Plainfield Education Association, told the board, "We are professionals, not chess pieces. Please help stop these last-minute reassignments."
Thirty-three staff members were listed for reassignment, including teachers, principals, vice principals and others. There were many other resolutions in the Human Resources segment, as employment decisions for school districts must be made by June 30. But when voting began on the 44-page Human Resources portion of the 166-page agenda, board members made so many exceptions that Smith and attorney Lisa Fittipaldi could not keep track and decided to review the tape.
For example, John Campbell voted "yes," except said "no" to six items and Carmencita Pile excluded the transfers and several other items from her "yes" vote. Board President Emily Morgan said the results will be posted on the district web site, which leaves those affected in limbo for a few more days.
Morgan and board members Carmencita Pile, Carletta Jeffers, John Campbell, Richard Wyatt and Lynn Anderson adjourned the public portion after voting on the rest of the agenda and went back into closed session at 11:10 p.m. David Rutherford, Dorien Hurtt and Terrance Bellamy were absent. The board was expected to return to public session later, but this writer went home.