How Not To Be A School District Superintendent: The Elmhurst, IL Edition


of learning-opportunity department

It should come as no surprise that school district superintendents are not universally amazing people. Like any population, there will be good and bad. That being said, it appears the COVID-19 pandemic has been particularly effective in highlighting how bad some superintendents can be at work, let alone public relations. The most useful example of this came from Georgia, where a school district suspended and then un-suspended students for posting photos of the seriousness of their schools. to fail to manage the return of students during the pandemic.

But a more recent example comes to us from – control notes – eh, my hometown of Elmhurst, Illinois. Dave Moyer, Superintendent of Elmhurst Public Schools, started a local shit storm for himself a few weeks ago, when he decided to have an exchange with a revered teacher in his district about the use of masks by teachers.

Last week, Jennifer Leban, Technology Teacher for District 205, tweeted: “I may be in the minority here, but I have a feeling parents would much prefer teachers to talk to students through Zoom WITHOUT masks. instead of WITH … Seems like an obvious choice? “

Moyer replied, “Then take off your mask.”

But Leban, Illinois’ 2020 Teacher of the Year finalist, said she did not have her own bedroom, so state regulations prohibit her from removing her mask.

For context, while the number of new cases has declined in much of the country, the same is not true for the Midwest. Here in Illinois in particular, new cases have been on the rise since July, including a breathtaking day just weeks after Moyer’s suggestion that a teacher take off her mask where the state has seen nearly six 1,000 new cases reported. Leban, by the way, is immunocompromised, which makes Moyer’s suggestion to simply remove his mask all the more silly. She presented the district with a doctor’s note recommending that she obtain a remote placement, for which there are slots in the district, but this request was denied without explanation.

Others, of course, have also seen the exchange on Twitter.

In the Twitter discussion, Kim Gwizdala, an English teacher at Glenbard West High School, said it was “absolutely crazy to me that your own superintendent is suggesting something when it is in direct violation of health guidelines and the science”.

Moyer objected to this comment.

” Excuse me. Lawyers said the state’s interpretation is that teachers can remove their masks while in their rooms by facilitating distance learning themselves. Do your research before you pontificate. “

In Lebanon, he wrote: “Not all your multimedia center is good enough? OK then.

Shortly after, for reasons that should be obvious, Moyer deleted several of these tweets. However, no public apology came. Additionally, as the parents began to join in the conversation, Moyer chose to block them on Twitter, although his account is that of the school district’s website, not a personal account. It should be noted here that the courts recently ruled that Donald Trump, as a public official, could not block the public from his official account because his control over the account and his status as a public official made that space. specific a public forum. Why Moyer’s account, linked to the district’s website, should be different is anyone’s guess.

In a Twitter chat last week about an Elmhurst teacher’s stance on masks, Alicia Duell, director of technology and information services at Wheeling School District 21, said Moyer had blocked her on her twitter account. A resident of Elmhurst, Duell noted that Moyer was the superintendent of his children’s school district.

Meanwhile, an Elmhurst resident emailed Patch over the weekend that she too had been banned from the Superintendent’s account.

Which brings us to the present, where the audience has became aware of Moyer’s behavior at a recent board meeting and voiced their complaints.

As of Monday, a number of written comments were read during the public comment portion of the meeting, including those critical of Moyer. Eileen Espinosa, a local resident who once served on a school council in Chicago, said she had “extended grace” to Moyer during the pandemic, but could no longer remain silent.

“His utter lack of leadership is overwhelming and you ignore him is no longer acceptable,” Espinosa told the board in his comments. “Dr. Moyer’s inability to send communications that help the community come together in the spring and throughout the summer and throughout the school year is a repeated reminder that he is not running our district. He continues to voice his grievances and personal opinions on social issues. media.”

There are others as well. The ultimate lesson here is how badly Moyer handled this at every step. A single line to immunocompromised teachers advising them to take off their masks both against state regulations and common sense is an obvious misstep. Redouble sarcasm and sarcasm when called upon, all the more. Delete those tweets and think it would all go away, rather than just apologize, put it on the tee at the Streisand National Open. Going on a parent-Twitter blocking frenzy to try and quell dissent hit the ball right in the middle of the fairway. And the refusal to comment publicly so far on the case has driven Streisand’s crowd mad.

When asked to comment on his deleted tweets late last month, Moyer did not respond directly. In an email, he said his public messages should be interpreted as seeking “a balance between safety for all and creating the healthiest learning environment for students. It is time for all of us to do so. ‘move beyond negativity and stay focused on where it belongs. “

Right now, the focus may simply be on whether Moyer is the best person to lead a school district during a pandemic in a state suffering from a wave of the virus.

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Filed Under: blocks, covid, dave moyer, distance education, elmhurst, illinois, jennifer leban, masks, superintendent
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