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SD103 puts Lincoln School principal on paid leave

By Steve Metsch

The embattled Lyons School District 103 – which caught heat

last year for hiring a teacher charged with attempted murder in a road rage

incident – has another personnel issue broiling.

This one involves a principal who, allegedly, had some

things to say that did not sit well with interim superintendents Patrick Patt

and Robert Madonia.

In a letter dated Feb. 14, Madonia informed Lincoln

Elementary School Principal Tara Kristoff that she was immediately being placed

on paid administrative leave for “derogatory and false statement'” about he and

Patt during a meeting on Feb. 13.

This is her first year as principal of Lincoln School, which

is located in Brookfield.

Madonia, Patt and Kristoff could not be reached for comment.

Board member Jorge Torres thinks it may be political, that

teachers in Lincoln School who are close to the interim superintendents may not

like Kristoff.

“They’re aren’t happy with her because she’s enforcing rules

and making sure people are accountable for their classrooms,” Torres said

Monday. “She has a voice. She voices her opinions. They don’t like it.”

Torres said Kristoff tried to get a student expelled because

of a fight with another student but was overruled by Madonia.

“Maybe she said she didn’t agree with that, and that’s when

things came about,” Torres said.

The school board was to meet in executive session Tuesday

night, Feb. 19, to discuss the issue, board member Joanne Schaeffer said.

“You can’t get rid of somebody just because you don’t like

them. You have to have substantial grounds. You cannot renew their contract if

you don’t like them, but you can’t get rid of them,” Schaeffer said Monday.

The letter, addressed to Kristoff’s home in Frankfort, reads

as follows:

Dear Mrs. Kristoff,

As I informed you on February 14, 2019, you have been placed

on paid administrative leave from your position as Principal of Lincoln

Elementary School, effective immediately, pending an investigation into your

conduct during a February 13, 2019, staff meeting.

Administration is reviewing allegations regarding your

conduct during the February 13, 2019 meeting, including allegations that you

(1) failed to follow your supervisor’s directives regarding the meeting agenda;

(2) made derogatory and false statements about the District’s Interim

Superintendents to staff members; and (3) engaged in unprofessional and

insubordinate conduct.

During the term of this administrative leave and until

further notice, you are directed to not be on District property or attend any

District events. In addition, you are required to keep this investigation

confidential, and you are directed not to discuss this investigation or any

information related to the allegations against you with anyone other than your

attorney. You must not retaliate against any District employee you believe is

cooperating in the investigation.

If you violate these directives, you will be subject to

disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

If you have any questions, please direct them to my

attention.

Respectfully,

Dr. Robert Madonia

Interim Superintendent

Schaeffer questioned if any negative statements were made.

“I don’t think she made a derogatory comment about any

superintendent,” Schaeffer said. “What do they consider a derogatory statement,

tell them go to go hell? I don’t know. If that’s being insubordinate or

whatever, then I’d be in deep trouble.’

The issue may come to a head when the board meets at 7 p.m.

Feb. 25 at Washington Middle School in Lyons, Torres said.

“The intention is to get rid of her, so that’s what they are

doing,” Torres said.

Tom Weiner, the newest member of the board, declined comment

Monday afternoon. “I am not allowed to talk about this as of yet. We haven’t

made anything official, so I can’t make any comment on this,” Weiner said.

Ê

Ê

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