Libertyville, Vernon Hills teachers call for superintendent’s dismissal

Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 teachers have overwhelmingly voted “no confidence” on Superintendent Denise Herrmann and are calling for her immediate dismissal.

The 293-member District 128 Federation of Teachers announced the vote Monday, saying Herrmann has created a “chaotic and hostile” work environment, forced key administrators to leave, fomented distrust among educators and has been unwilling to listen to teacher concerns.

Herrmann did not comment before the meeting but the district’s board of education issued a statement in which it said it is aware of teachers’ concerns and will “process them together as a board.”

The teachers union in Libertyville-Vernon Hills High School District 128 is calling for the dismissal of Superintendent Denise Herrmann.

“Since this is a personnel matter, we are not in a position to provide additional comments at this time,” the statement reads.

In the union’s statement, it claims Herrmann has made poor use of taxpayer funds, violated the collective bargaining agreement with teachers, eliminated effective student support programs and has shown an inability to set and follow through on district goals.

“During her nearly three-year tenure here, Dr. Denise Herrmann has repeatedly shown that she is incapable of leading our district at this important time,” union President Monica Caldicott said.

Teachers and parents in Libertyville Vernon Hills High School District 128 called for the dismissal of Superintendent Denise Herrmann during a school board meeting Monday at Vernon Hills High School. Daily Herald File Photo, 2018

The union’s public statement follows a variety of district initiatives that have been topics of lengthy public comment and discussion at school board meetings the past several months.

“We had no other choice,” Caldicott said during the teacher union report portion of the meeting. “We urge the board to make a desperately needed change in leadership. Our district deserves no less,” she added.

Caldicott’s report followed public comment by 27 speakers including several graduating seniors and other students speaking in support of teachers and questioning the lack of a realistic, sustainable and measurable plans for pending educational initiatives. Others criticized what they said was a lack of collaboration and communication.

“Simply said, slow down and get help,” one speaker said.

Herrmann defended her actions saying leadership is about doing the right things, not what’s popular.

“Every leader experiences times when that line must be drawn,” Herrmann read from a statement.

“This is my line. I will stand by my unwavering values of integrity and equity. I will not back down from doing what is best practice for student learning,” she added.

She said she didn’t anticipate the level of challenge and will remain strong, resilient and peaceful.

“Every decision I have made has been aligned with district policy, state law and is in the best interest of all students, but especially those whose voice has been traditionally marginalized,” Herrmann added.

Individual board members had not addressed the union report or public comment as of press time.

Pending curriculum changes include automatically enrolling students in the next most rigorous level of classes and replace or remove standard honors classes. Some are concerned there won't be adequate support outside the classroom for students who will need it.

According to Monday’s announcement, nearly 90% of teachers supported the no confidence vote. That mirrors the results of a “pulse survey” of teachers presented at the April 28 school board meeting, in which about 92% of 145 union members they had little or no trust in the administration and its decision making.

“As teachers, we feel responsible to our students, parents and taxpayers,” Caldicott said. “They deserve a superintendent who will make prudent financial decisions and build upon the outstanding legacy and student achievement in our district. Dr. Herrmann has proven she is not that leader. It’s time for change in District 128.”

Herrmann was hired as District 128’s superintendent in 2021, having previously worked as assistant superintendent for learning and teaching and chief academic officer at St. Charles Unit District 303. She replaced Prentiss Lea, who retired after 12 years as District 128's top administrator.

District 128 educates more than 3,200 students at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools.

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