Teachers, staff respond to administrative changes

As of November, the administrative changes announced in mid-October took effect, changing the operations of the Deans, Student Services and Human Resources offices. After these changes were made public, many staff members were upset by the swift action and the lack of transparency regarding why they were implemented, as well as the fact that none of the positions had been open for applications. Rather, staff members were shifted into new roles without public transparency or a public hiring process. Following the announcement of these changes, Teachers’ Council (TC) President Rick Cardis has voiced the perspective of many teachers.

“There are concerns about the fact that the jobs weren’t posted so that people could apply for them. Also, for the people in Social Services and Student Services, it’s like they leave on a Friday, and then they come back on a Monday, and they have new bosses all of a sudden,” Cardis explains. “We rely quite a bit on our department chairs to give us guidance and to support us when we have personal situations that come up, and to be unclear about how that all would be handled was difficult.”

However, some teachers remain unbothered by the shifts, attributing these types of changes to the inner workings of an administration in an institution of its size. 

“Those are boss decisions,” Career and Technical Education teacher David Feeley says. “Those aren’t decisions for underlings like teachers. That’s not our job. But in big organizations, there’s always going to be grumbling from staff about changes.”

Part of Feeley’s belief comes from his many years of experience in District 202. Given his time at ETHS, he feels these events occur every so often. 

“Being here 23 years, you see this happen once every two to three years, [so] I wasn’t surprised,” Feeley says. “The only thing that’s important [to me], though, [is] was it open? Did people have opportunities to apply? This school definitely operates under federal law and state law, which requires Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concerns.”

From an administrative level, these changes were made to counteract the resignation of Gretchen Rhodes, a former dean. 

“We had a dean resign during the school year,” Superintendent Eric Witherspoon says. “We really started to communicate with different people involved about where they felt they might be able to make a bigger contribution.”

Additionally, Witherspoon emphasized that these administrative changes were really only made to preserve student wellbeing and play to administrators’ strengths. 

“We realized, while it may not be the normal timing of school, [that] this was an opportunity to really think [about] how we want to fill that role,” Witherspoon explains. “We decided that we shouldn’t do things piecemeal just because it happened to be October.” 

Regardless of past changes to ETHS’ administration, Teachers’ Council plans on continuing to support staff members. 

“I have enjoyed the opportunity to work with my colleagues and to help support them,” Cardis says. “[I enjoy the] human side of it, just trying to help people navigate the changes we’ve had.”