District 181 teachers upset by hiring decision
Updated: September 10, 2012 12:29PM
CLARENDON HILLS — Teachers in Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 are expressing disappointment after the School Board failed to approve the hiring of a teacher who was recommended for an open sixth-grade language arts/science position at Clarendon Hills Middle School.
And a former president of the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Teachers’ Association believes the board’s decision was made because the teacher recommended for the position is the daughter of a just-retired CHMS teacher, who has at times been outspoken.
The board opted in a July 23 closed session to remove a personnel item on the agenda for its meeting that day to act on the approval of the recommended teacher, said Bridget McGuiggan, spokesperson for District 181. The recommendation for the hiring came from a committee of teachers and administrators that conducted interviews with applicants, the traditional process used in the district.
The teacher candidate in question is Kristin Grapenthien, who teaches middle school in Aurora. She is the daughter of Nancy Grapenthien, a Clarendon Hills resident who retired in June after teaching for 19 years in District 181.
Nancy Grapenthien said her daughter was offered the job to teach science and language arts at CHMS by Principal Griffin Sonntag, pending board approval.
“I stayed very far away from all of the procedures that went on,” Grapenthien said. “I just want what is best for the kids in District 181, and I’m really disappointed that the person recommended by the committee and human resources director is someone the board decided not to consider. My daughter is fine, and it’s over now.”
However, Sonntag said he did not offer anyone the job.
“I don’t offer positions to candidates after interviewing them, often with a team of staff members,” he said. “Once I have a finalist for a position, I recommend that person to the human resources department, and after all of their checks and often times a final interview, they offer positions to candidates, always pending School Board approval.
Board President Michael Nelson said because this is a personnel matter, he had little comment.
“The board has the final approval on a hiring, and it takes four votes for that approval,” was all Nelson would say.
Sarah Hoffman and Heather Scott, co-presidents of the teachers’ association, a collective bargaining group that represents District 181 teachers, said they are disappointed by the board’s decision.
“We are surprised and saddened that a candidate unanimously recommended by an interview team of veteran teachers, building administrator, and assistant superintendent for human resources, was not hired by the Board of Education,” they wrote in a statement.
“The committee conducted an interview process with utmost integrity and reached their goal of identifying an outstanding teacher, who was incredibly child-centered and would truly foster excellence in every student, to be recommended for employment.”
Hoffman said the teachers’ association has planned no action regarding the board not approving the hiring of a recommended teacher. And she wouldn’t speculate on motives for the board’s decision.
However, Justin Horne, who was president of the teachers’ association during the 2011-12 school year, said he believes the board’s decision was based on Kristin Grapenthien being Nancy’s daughter.
“They saw the same last name,” he said. “Nancy has spoken before at board meetings as a resident of the district, and she is a former union president. Maybe, she has had some things to say the board didn’t like, but even if that’s the case, it shouldn’t have any effect on the hiring of a new teacher.”
McGuiggan said the position for a sixth-grade science/language arts teacher at CHMS remains open and work is being done to have another recommendation ready for the next board meeting, which could be as soon as an Aug. 18.