GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn School District 41 staff recently received a memo from Superintendent Paul Gordon and Board of Education President Stephanie Clark to clarify "some expectations related to communication across the district," according to the memo.
"In light of the recent contentious and public debate between the board and some staff, it is important that we share our expectations of all staff members moving forward," the memo stated.
The teachers union for District 41 and individual teachers had criticized the actions of the Board of Education after the majority of its members on May 1 voted to discontinue second-grade teacher specialization. The memo stated staff members "have the First Amendment rights to speak at public board meetings and in other public forums to express their views on district issues of public concern, but that right is balanced against the district's interests in an efficient workplace and employee performance of their duties effectively and free from disruption."
However, staff members discussing matters "that relate primarily to their personal employment issues will usually not be protected by First Amendment speech rights," the memo stated.
The memo also reminded staff members not to present personal views on district issues of public concern with students in educational settings "or in any manner which is disruptive to the learning environment."
In addition, staff members also were warned that engagement in matters of public concern during the workday or using district resources "must be kept to a minimum and must not detract from the performance of duties or be disruptive." They also were told that "political activity" during work time or using district resources is prohibited by Illinois law.
The memo also addressed the behavior expected of staff members attending board meetings.
"Presentations at board meetings during public participation must be done in such a way that models what we expect of our students," the memo stated. "This is also the case with respect to disruption of board discussion at other times during board meetings."
Staff members were told in the memo that while they might disagree with the actions taken by the board or administration, once that action is taken, "all staff members must follow the directives from the board and/or the administration and implement them with fidelity."
"The board and administration sent an email to all staff outlining the framework for working together this coming school year," Clark and Gordon said in a statement. "We wanted to ensure that there is great clarity regarding communication expectations across the district. We look forward to continuing to focus on our shared vision and mission to support our students."
In response to the memo, Glen Ellyn Education Association Co-presidents Tracy Guerrieri and Dina Sbarra said in a statement that the union will continue to advocate for the best interests of the district's students.
"We will continue to be proactive to make sure students receive the best education possible," they said in a statement.