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More than 100 rally in support of Glen Ellyn District 41 superintendent

Supporters call for Board of Education to renew contract

GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn School District 41 teachers and community members showed their support for renewing the contract of Superintendent Paul Gordon at the Board of Education meeting Oct. 15.

Gordon’s contract expires June 30, 2019, and the board has not yet revealed if it will renew his contract or conduct a search for a replacement.

Before the floor was opened for public comment about Gordon’s contract, board President Stephanie Clark said the board has been “engaged in confidential discussions since last spring” about renewing Gordon’s contract. Until a decision is reached, there will be no further comment from the board, she said.

“The contact calls for notice by the board and Dr. Gordon of their decision on the renewal of the contract by no later than April 1, 2019,” Clark said. “The board and Dr. Gordon have discussed giving earlier notification, but it’s a confidential personnel matter, and the board does not expect to have any additional comments until the board or Dr. Gordon gives notice.”

Dina Sbarra, co-president of the Glen Ellyn Education Association, asked the board to make a decision in a timely manner regarding the district’s leadership. Sbarra, a longtime teacher in the district, said students are “growing academically and achieving great success,” which she attributed to districtwide leadership.

“Research states that change takes three to five years to adjust to, and it’s difficult and stressful. Why would we put our students in this situation when they’re doing so well?" she said. "Please, please listen to these comments and make a decision that’s in the best interests of our students.”

Fellow teachers union Co-president Tracy Guerrieri also reiterated her support for Gordon but said if the board felt retaining him wasn’t in the district’s best interest, it should move quickly on a search for a new superintendent.

“If Dr. Gordon’s successes are not what the board feels is best for our students, such as closing the achievement gap, passing a referendum, launching a comprehensive study into special education as directed by the board, then time is running out to find a qualified candidate who will pick up where Dr. Gordon leaves off at the end of the school year,” she said.

Heather Heskin, a teacher at Hadley Junior High School, said she’s never worked in a more positive environment in the 17 years she’s been in the district than the past few years, which she said is because of Gordon’s leadership. She, too, encouraged the board to make a decision quickly.

“In past practices, decisions are made early so we can get the best, and if this board doesn’t feel this is the best, then we need to move because we need to do what’s best for our kids,” she said.

Former board member Willie DiFabio said among all the superintendents he’s known since 1989, Gordon is the best “to work with, to work for, to be around and to watch in action.”

“My urging is to absolutely keep him on board. Don’t for a second think that he’s not being shopped by other districts. His reputation is very strong and extremely positive,” he said.

A group of about 115 teachers, parents, students and community members also held a rally outside the district office in a show of support for Gordon prior to the meeting. Sbarra said everyone at the rally was very passionate about Gordon’s leadership.

“Our data speaks for itself. You can see the growth that our students have been making, and we believe it’s because of the leadership of Dr. Gordon and his administrative cabinet,” she said. “Everybody cheered for him when he walked into the meeting. That itself showed the support without words. It speaks volumes about his leadership.”

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