Sweeney resigns as Brandywine superintendent

Published 12:43 pm Tuesday, August 12, 2003

By By JAN GRIFFEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Without explanation, the Brandywine Public Schools Board of Education accepted the resignation of its superintendent, Dr. Gene Sweeney, at a special meeting Monday night.
Just before Sweeney's resignation, the board accepted the resignation of the district's curriculum director, Ellen Connors.
The Brandywine school board's special meeting was originally scheduled to discuss district goals. The board did that, but only while waiting for the arrival of the district's attorney, Lisa Swem, of Lansing, and board member Michael Shelton, who was late arriving to the meeting because he had been out of town during the day for a business meeting.
Brandywine Board President James Curran said earlier on Monday that the board had been investigating an allegation of misconduct involving Sweeney. However, Curran would not speak to the details of that investigation or allegation.
The Brandywine board, after accepting Sweeney's resignation, appointed Brandywine Elementary School Principal Karen Weimer as acting superintendent. The board also voted to launch a search for a new superintendent immediately.
Neither Brandywine board members nor its attorney would comment on the two resignations -- not reasons for them or whether they are linked.
Board officials would also not release details of the severance package offered to either, though the board approved "executing a separation agreement" with both.
Sweeney and Connors resignations were accepted unanimously by the six board members attending the meeting -- Phil Bozung, Cindy Benson, Gregory Harrison, Michael Shelton, Dennis Cooper and Curran.
Board member Michael Armstrong, who rarely attends a school board meeting, was absent from Monday night's meeting, too.
The district hired Sweeney in May 2001 from the Lake Zurich, Ill., school district, where he was assistant superintendent in charge of curriculum and instruction.
Before that, Sweeney was a principal at Penn High School, part of the Penn-Harris-Madison School district in the Granger area of Indiana.
Sweeney worked for the Illinois school district for about a year.
When he was chosen by Brandywine, he said part of the reason he was doing so was because his family wanted to remain in the Granger, Ind., area. His family never made the move to Illinois when he worked there.
Connors also worked in the Penn-Harris-Madison School district as a teacher and remediation specialist from 1997 to 2001. She was hired by Sweeney as curriculum director in the Brandywine district.
Sweeney recently championed a successful bond issue to provide funds for much-needed building improvements in the district.
The bond issue was the first approved by voters in the district in more than 30 years.