Daily Star photo/KATIE ROHMAN Oak Manor Sixth Grade Center Principal Robin Hadrick, center left, and Kim Bagby, Eastside third grade teacher and teacher leader, share an emotional moment Aug. 26 during Eastside's ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Archived Story

Was re-opening Eastside justified?

Published 9:38pm Friday, October 21, 2011

Niles attorney Chris Lynch wants to make one thing clear: He is not against the teachers, students or parents at Eastside Connections School, part of the Niles Community Schools district.
“I have volunteered in this community for more than 20 years,” Lynch said.  “Anyone that knows me knows I am a big fan of students and of Niles teachers, who do an exceptional job.”
On Thursday, the Niles Daily Star ran a letter to the editor written by Robin Hadrick, the principal at Oak Manor. Hadrick, who acts as a support administrator for Eastside Connections, spoke out against what she calls the “prejudiced party attacking Eastside.”
The letter to the editor did not name a specific naysayer, but Lynch did speak publicly about Eastside Connections at Monday’s school board meeting. Lynch’s comments were related to the board’s decision to close Eastside in the spring of 2010. Lynch said that the board misled the public by saying that the building was unsafe for students and needed to be closed. Lynch said the district lost a lot of students to other districts because the board decided to close Eastside, which was reopened as Eastside Connections this year.
“That is money that left the district, money that could be used to pay teachers,” said Lynch. “They don’t want to admit that their lack of revenue is a result of their mistake.
“If the public was misled over Eastside, who is to say that they aren’t being misled over the teachers’ (union contract) situation now?”
Lynch believes his comments may have been misinterpreted as him speaking out against Eastside Connections.
“If that is the case they didn’t clearly understand my point,” Lynch said.
Lnych said in response to Hadrick’s letter: “I found her letter to be mean spirited and misguided and I think school administrators shouldn’t be name callers.”
Hadrick said she didn’t write the letter to one specific person, but to the many people who are attacking Eastside Connections.
“There have been a lot of naysayers going on in the community even from within our own district,” Hadrick said. “It is just a wonderful program going on over there and I am fed up with the bashing. It is really tearing up the morale of the teachers and staff over there, upsetting parents and I am just trying to lay it to rest.”
Kim Bagby, an Eastside teacher, said the negative comments are hurting teacher morale at Eastside.
“We’ve had parents and community members volunteer hundreds of hours for the school and as building leader it is disheartening to feel that those contributions are being discredited,” Bagby said. “To hear someone say well you really shouldn’t have done that is frustrating.”
Niles Supt. Richard Weigel, when asked if Hadrick was given approval by him or the school board to write the letter to the editor, responded via email: “Robin Hadrick has the freedom of speech to provide her personal view on things that may not be the views of those of the school district. The board of education acknowledges the right of its professional staff members, as citizens in a democratic society, to speak out on issues of public concern. She is a fine principal of Oak Manor who has a deep understanding of instruction and has been involved with the revitalization of ECS since the beginning. She has been named as the support administrator for Eastside Connections School because ECS does not have a principal but does have a teacher leader.”

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