Former Prairie Crossing Charter School principal Brian Greene has filed a lawsuit contending his firing in December was based on false claims against him by Director Nigel Whittington and two others.
Greene’s attorney, Anthony Esposito of Libertyville, filed the suit Tuesday in Lake County circuit court. More than $50,000 in damages are sought from the Grayslake public choice school for claims including breach of contract, defamation, civil conspiracy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Court documents state Whittington made bogus claims against Greene in a letter last Nov. 29 recommending the principal’s dismissal. Whittington falsely stated Greene disclosed the substance of confidential teacher union negotiations to a parent and lied about the completion of curriculum maps, the suit says.
The lawsuit also contends false comments by former Prairie Crossing board member Mark Dybas and his wife, school spokeswoman Dilrukshi Dybas, were used by Whittington as part of his ouster. The Dybases have a child who attends the school...
Along with the charter school, Whittington, the Dybases and all board members were named individually.
Prairie Crossing Charter School's board president says she doesn't want bickering among her colleagues to hurt education there, so she's asked a state agency for help.
Temporary legal advice and oversight for the elected officials at the suburbs' only charter school is on the way from the Illinois State Board of Education.
Representatives from the state are expected to meet with officials at the Grayslake public school this week. In part, the board wants state guidance on "acceptable standards for civil behavior."…
In the past month or so, the following incidents have occurred at Prairie Crossing, which is the suburbs' only charter school:
- Board member John Rizzo leveled accusations against a colleague. After some board members tried to quiet him, Rizzo went into the audience and said he'd continue speaking as a parent, not an official.
At one point, board member Kim Vander Yacht demanded Rizzo's removal from the meeting room.
- Wiens and three others tried to oust board member Laura Elizabeth Fay as treasurer. Wiens contended Fay overstepped her bounds. The moved failed in a 4-4 vote.
Fay said her opponents were upset she reported the school had a "precarious cash flow."
- Director Myron Dagley issued a memo stating a "hostile and ugly" office atmosphere created by a board member prompted three employees to threaten to quit.
State board of education officials hope this week's meeting creates a better understanding between the feuding board members, spokesman Matt Vanover said…
Prairie Crossing Charter School's director says a "hostile and ugly" office atmosphere created by a board member has triggered the pending resignations of at least three administrators.
Myron Dagley, the director and top administrator, issued a memo last week stating Prairie Crossing is "dead in the water" if the employees suddenly quit…
Dagley didn't name the board member he contends is causing problems or the employees who want to quit. He said the pending resignations of three or possibly four staffers stem from personal attacks and accusations of inappropriate actions spread by the board member…
He said the board member at issue has created a "hostile and ugly work environment," prompting his friends to ask if Prairie Crossing Charter School is a "crazy place."
Administrators subjected to the rumors and innuendo live in the Grayslake area and have been confronted by residents about such "tripe" while in the community, Dagley said…
At least one board member at Prairie Crossing Charter School in Grayslake is frustrated with one of its co-founders, who sold land to a nearby private Montessori program for $10.
Prairie Crossing board member John Rizzo of Gurnee said it would have been good if the charter school had received a similar $10 deal from Victoria Ranney. She was a founding board member when the public charter school opened in 1999.
Ranney is president of Prairie Holdings Corp., which developed the namesake subdivision where the charter school was built. The public school borrowed $2.3 million to buy its buildings and property from Prairie Holdings.
"If we were not paying debt service (like interest) on $2.3 million," Rizzo said, "we'd be in much better shape than we are now."
However, Ranney said Wednesday that Rizzo's reasoning was unfair. Lake Forest Montessori School broke ground last week for a building on a Prairie Crossing organic farm site that it purchased for $10.
"The situation is not comparable," Ranney said.
Ranney said she won't be drawn into any effort to pit the two schools against each other because her family has put its support behind both institutions…
Financial woes recently led Prairie Crossing's interim director to say officials must consider reducing staff and halting almost all spending in discretionary accounts so the school can live within its means.
Whether Grayslake's Prairie Crossing Charter School is better off with a nine-member board that consists of mostly appointed members was up for debate Tuesday night.
Six of Prairie Crossing's board members are appointed and three elected by parents. A petition with about 120 signatures presented at Tuesday's board meeting contends Prairie Crossing should become more democratic and have six of the nine board members elected by parents.
Proponents of the current structure say Prairie Crossing is a nonprofit corporation unlike traditional school districts and needs a board that selects most of its members with the right expertise…
Todd Lemmon represented those who want a board mostly elected by Prairie Crossing parents. He said that would lead to better representation and accountability.
"It just goes right to the heart of good corporate governance in a democracy," Lemmon said.
However, parent Steve Barg said Prairie Crossing's board works well under the current system and that a majority of elected members could tamper with the "unique, innovative and different" charter school. He also questioned the petition submitted by Lemmon.
"I've heard from several parents who feel they were pressured into signing (the petition), and now regret that they did," Barg said…