McHenry County Board approves new regional superintendent

The McHenry County Board has turned the page on several years of troubles at the McHenry County Regional Office of Education by approving a new regional superintendent.

On Tuesday, board members voted 19-2 to approve Diana Hartmann, a special education administrator at Elgin Area School District U-46, to take over as the county's regional superintendent.

"I have seen over the years there wasn't much being done at the office, and I look forward to bring a lot more service back," Hartmann said in an interview.

The position was vacated in November when the county board voted unanimously to remove Leslie Schermerhorn as superintendent following years of unaddressed accounting issues and organizational problems that left board members saying they felt like they had no choice but to make a change.

Hartmann - one of three people interviewed for the job - said she wants the office to have a greater public presence and a better grasp on the issues parents and school officials feel need to be addressed.

"Hopefully, over the next year, people will begin to know what the office does," she said.

The McHenry County Regional Office of Education is different from most of the other 34 in Illinois because it covers a single county, while many offices are responsible for multiple counties. The regional offices of education in Lake, Kane, DeKalb, DuPage and Will counties also serve single counties.

The regional office of education is responsible for handling teacher certification, truancy issues and GEDs, as well as ensuring the county's public school districts remain financially viable and in compliance with state curriculum requirements.

Hartmann said she is ready for the "cleanup job" that is ahead of her.

During Schermerhorn's tenure, the regional office of education had at least six consecutive state audits come back with errors, many of them repeats from previous years. Audits of fiscal 2020 and 2021 have yet to be completed by the Illinois auditor general. An audit conducted by the county last year also produced 27 findings.

"She is enthusiastic about the position and will work closely with our school districts and county board to get our ROE back on track," said county board Chairman Mike Buehler, a Crystal Lake Republican.

Among Hartmann's priorities will be cleaning up the office's accounting errors, getting to know how the office functions and finding out what issues people in the county need to be addressed.

Hartmann is a Lakemoor resident and comes to the regional office of education with a special education background in addition to her administrative experience. She previously was director of student services at the Alexander Leigh Center for Autism in McHenry and taught special education classes at Hannah Beardsley Middle School in Crystal Lake. She also was a teacher at Harvard High School.

Hartmann said she thinks her various areas of experience in education will make her transition to regional superintendent smooth.

"I feel pretty confident," she said. "I've served in a lot of different roles in the years I've been in education."

The regional superintendent is an elected position, and Hartmann said she plans to run for reelection as a Republican in November.

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