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updated: 1/25/2012 6:08 AM

Legal tab arrives for ousted Prairie Crossing principal

Bills in November double what school set aside

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  • Brian Greene

      Brian Greene

 
 

Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake is starting to receive attorney bills for work related to former principal Brian Greene, who was fired in December.

Legal bills in November totaled nearly $5,500. Prairie Crossing set aside monthly amounts of $2,500 for general legal tasks and $667 for work related to the teachers union bargaining unit in the 2011-12 budget.

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Executive Director Nigel Whittington and board President Steve Achtemeier didn't return messages seeking comment.

Without providing details to the public, board members fired Greene on Dec. 16, roughly two weeks after he was placed on paid administrative leave at the small, public choice school.

Although Greene went on leave Nov. 29, legal work connected to his situation at Prairie Crossing began Nov. 15, according to documents obtained through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request.

Chicago-based Franczek Radelet charged $4,747 to Prairie Crossing for 20 hours of work by three attorneys as part of a November invoice total of $5,491. The bill was sent to the school Dec. 20.

Most of the work on the November bill was performed by Franczek Radelet associate Amy Kosanovich Dickerson at $225 an hour. Documents show firm partner Shelli Anderson, who bills at $320 an hour, did a minimal amount of work.

Lawyers attended marathon Prairie Crossing board meetings and closed-door sessions that focused on Greene on Dec. 6, 13 and 16, but charges from that billing cycle were not yet available.

Former board member John Rizzo of Gurnee, a Greene supporter, said he warned officials at a public meeting about incurring additional legal fees at a school operating on thin budget margins.

"I would say that I am very concerned the dollars are being spent on something that is not impacting the children, the classrooms or the teachers," said Rizzo, an attorney.

Along with the $5,491 in legal fees for November, Prairie Crossing paid $4,760 to Greene for not working before he was dismissed. He had a one-year contract with an $82,500 base salary.

Greene, 41, has said he did nothing illegal or unethical before he was placed on leave. He's declined to identify the issue that led to his departure.

Prairie Crossing is an environmentally focused school with a 392-student capacity. Parents of children at Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 and Fremont Elementary District 79 in the Mundelein area may send their children at no extra cost to Prairie Crossing, which determines enrollment by lottery.

Gail Worrell was hired this month as Prairie Crossing's interim principal for the remainder of the academic year. Most recently, she was director of curriculum and instruction at Zion-Benton Township High School District 126.

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