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Bolingbrook High School principal's supporters pack auditorium in Romeoville

More than 1,000 parents, teachers and students attend board meeting

Rex Robinson | 1/28/2014, 10:17 a.m. | Updated on 1/28/2014, 4:17 p.m.
Many supported him and said he made Bolingbrook High School a safer learning environment, quelling the violence and helping their ...
Parents, students and teachers filled the auditorium at Lukancic Middle School in Romeoville Monday for the Valley View School District 365U over the resignation of Bolingbrook High School Principal Michael White. Photo by Rex Robinson

Many supported him and said he made Bolingbrook High School a safer learning environment, quelling the violence and helping their children to do better in school. Others referred to him as a bully.

More than 1,000 people, most supporters of Bolingbrook High School Principal Michael White, attended Monday night’s Valley View School District 365U board meeting at Lucancic Middle School in Romeoville.

“I think he’s the best thing that’s happened to Bolingbrook High School in a number of years,” Bolingbrook resident and parent Eric Simpson said. “He’s a no-nonsense educator who loves our kids.”

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Parents, teachers and students line up to get a chance to speak about the resignation of Bolingbrook High School Principal Michael White.

About 50 people stepped up to the podium to talk about White’s decision to resign at the end of the school year, and a number of them urged the board to reject his resignation.

In the end, that didn’t happen and the board voted 5-2 to accept White’s resignation. Many in the audience didn’t know what happened because the resignation was lumped in with a host of other “action reports” regarding personnel. Board member Elizabeth “Liz” Campbell, who along with and Debbie Sykora voted against accepting White’s resignation, prompted board president Steven Quigley to explain the vote to audience members so they all understood that in accepting the personnel action reports they were, in fact, accepting White’s resignation.

Earlier at the meeting, one parent, Colleen Doughty and other parents submitted a petition with more than 1,200 signatures supporting White and opposing his resignation.

Doughty was one of the first to address the board. She began by firing off questions to Supt. James Mitchem Jr. Mitchem has made a number of changes in how the district operates and how its schools are run, and some of those new policies, like curriculum changes being made at the district level, clashed with how White was trying to lead as a principal. White said he decided to resign because he felt stymied by those decisions.

As Doughty began her line of questioning aimed at Mitchem, Quigley intervened. “This is not a Q and A,” he said. “This is public comment.”

Doughty wanted Mitchem to clarify how the changes he has made should be deemed student-centered as opposed to adult-centered. According to Doughty, that is something White has already achieved at Bolingbrook High School through his own policies. Tardies and expulsions, she said, have been greatly reduced since White has been at the helm.

The petition, according to Doughty, speaks volumes about the support the community has for White.

“As indicated, by the number of community members who signed the petition, the community is unhappy,” Doughty said.

White came to the district last year from Ann Arbor, Mich. The decision to resign, he said, did not come easy, but he felt he gone as far as he could and that his hands were tied due to administration policies.

Beth Donofrio had two sons go through Bolingbrook High School. She said when her son, Alec, was a freshman at the school in 2009 there was a stabbing involving two teen in the boy’s bathroom. And, both before and after 2009, up until last year when White took over as principal, fights were almost a daily occurrence in the hallways, Donofrio said.