Did the Shorewood School Board Force McCann to Retire?

Board members say it's completely inaccurate to say they had a forceful hand in the superintendent's decision to retire; but some parents and residents aren't buying it.

Superintendent Blane McCann said it was simply time to move forward in . But some in the community believe there's more going on behind the scenes, and accusations surfaced publicly at Tuesday's School Board meeting.

Former School Board member John Carlton told Patch Tuesday he was told by some of the board and McCann that board members Colin Plese, Michael Mishlove and Rob Reinhoffer refused to negotiate with him on a new contract, forcing him into retirement.

"They have forced the retirement of an excellent superintendent," Carlton said. "My concern is, the way that this has gone down may cause us to lose other administrators. Good administrators.

"I don't know why they thought this was necessary."

Crowd also levies charges

Meanwhile, a local non-profit educational foundation working to raise funds to fill budget gaps — Supporters of Excellence in Educational Development (SEED) — also believes something is afoot. SEED President Melissa Nelsen sent out a call to action via an email a few hours before the meeting, and a crowd of parents and residents swelled to about 50.

And while the crowd passionately asked McCann reconsider or blamed board members for either not doing enough to retain him or forcing him to retire, board members contended it was McCann's choice alone to retire.

Mishlove rebuked Carlton's comments, labeling them as inaccurate, but said he wouldn't elaborate further on Carlton's discussion with other board members. When asked about whether he was forced out, McCann said he stood by his "move forward" comment.

The board voted 4-1 to accept McCann's retirement request, with board Vice President Ruth Treisman casting the lone vote against. The retirement, effective July 9, ends McCann's decade-long tenure at the head of the district.

McCann's contract was renewed last February through the 2012-13 school year. His 2011 salary was $152,250, according to figures from the state Department of Public Instruction.

A confidential personnel matter

Mishlove said he wouldn't discuss the circumstances of McCann's decision and that it should be treated as a confidential personnel matter, but he did say McCann is leaving under a negotiated package and the accusations that they pushed him out are completely inaccurate.

"It's sad and it's disappointing. We are losing a good person," Mishlove said.

Patch reported in April that near his hometown in suburban Columbus, OH, later removing his name from the consideration.

Mishlove said he thinks it was evitable McCann would pack up and move on.

"I'm disappointed. I have kids in the district. I'm not interested in seeing the district go downhill," he said. "I look forward to seizing the opportunity of transition, to move forward with new initiatives and a new chapter in Shorewood.

"I don't think a lot of the sentiment expressed in the meeting tonight is healthy for the district. I respect them; there's a lot of emotion attached to it. But my eyes are fixed on the long-time health and success of the district."

Zovic: No connection to non-candidacy

But some didn't buy the board's rebuttals.

"I think the community is rather aware of why Blane has offered his letter and which ones of you are behind it," resident Catherine Flaherty said. "I'm very troubled by this news."

Another resident and SEED board member, Sarah McEneany, raised the question of how to recall board members because she's worried about the state of the district with "dysfunction occurring," McCann leaving and .

"As a citizen, I'm extremely disappointed," McEneany said. "As a parent, I'm worried."

Zovic said there are changes in his life that require the focus of his time and effort and McCann's retirement played no part.

School officials say they will start the process of searching for McCann's replacement in the several coming weeks.

Wonderful Life January 11, 2012 at 02:55 PM
The board and its relationship to the Superintendent has changed a lot since Mr. Carlton and Ms. Bornstein retired. It's a contensious relationship that began rearing its ugly head last spring after Dr. McCann made an offer to a job candidate before the board had his approval, and within a very short period of time (hours?, or a few days?) it was learned Dr. McCann was a candidate for a job in Ohio. Dr. McCann has been looking for a job for a few years. Why would we continue to negotiate his contract if he's half out the door? With his resignation we are not waiting for that shoe to drop. We know he's leaving in July, and now the board can find a replacement and structure a team who all are part of a plan- not with a super that's writing a plan, who could be out the door as soon as an offer comes through. I do not blame Dr. McCann for looking for a job or retiring. The educational climate in this state and beyond is aweful. I think he'll be an asset to other students wherever he lands, but I'm supportive of the board and like Dr. McCann, they have our students best interests in mind.
Dirk January 11, 2012 at 02:57 PM
I smell a rat or rats. If they think this is the best decision, then they should come out and defend it honestly. Ask yourslf, do you really want Mr. Mishlove and his minions to choose who runs our schools? Do we want to spend thousands of dollars to hire a search firm to find us what we already have - a great leader. People of Shorewood, teachers, please look how this board has been conducting themselves lately! If you disagree with their decision to move ahead last night even though the audience, who they represent, clearly held opposing opinions - speak up now!
Wonderful Life January 11, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Dirk, an email went out last night for people to attend that meeting in support of Dr. McCann. I believe it went out from the person who once told Dr. McCann that she had no confidence in his ability to lead this district after the hours fiasco. Mr. Rheinhoffer and Mr. Plese are minions, oh please!
Missy January 11, 2012 at 06:38 PM
First I would like to clarify the article that I, Melissa Nelsen, did not send an email as the SEED Board President but rather as a concerned parent to friends, who has worked with Blane for the last 9 years on many school issues. The school district has such great momentum right now, why in the world would we want to change the leadership? Blane has done an amazing job getting the district through many tough times and he has many great ideas that I would love to see implemented. I have always been impressed with his inclusiveness and flexibility in dealing with many difficult issues and varying opinions. Second, I have never said I had no confidence in Blane's ability to lead the district. Was I frustrated? Did I want to make sure this minutes fiasco didn't ever happen again? Did I want the issue to be addressed. Yes! However, mistakes are made and it is how people/organizations move forward that matters. But people really need to move past the minute issue and look at the big picture. Blane has led the district through many storms and it would be in the interest of everyone in Shorewood to keep him here. As I said last night, I hope the school board can sit down and work together to see what they can do to keep him leading our district.
Wonderful Life January 11, 2012 at 07:57 PM
So the conclusion is that it's in our students' best interest to reject a resignation from a good Superintendent that has been looking for a job for a few years? The school board chose to accept the resignation so we can move on, and there are plenty of people that support the decision. We just didn't send a letter.
SamanthaJones January 11, 2012 at 10:02 PM
So Shorewoodian, elected school board members do not speak for the rest of Shorewood, but you apparently do? Not for all of us. There is more than one side to this and there are many out there who are supportive of the current school board and will vote for them again when and if they decide to subject themselves to another term of the thankless job, which by the way, they won in an election by the voters of Shorewood.
Jay Blue January 11, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Dear Wonderful Life: Who says Supt. McCann was looking to leave? You? Per Patch he was offered a job in his home state of Ohio less than one year ago and he...wait for it ... turned it down to stay here! How does that fit with someone wanting to leave? What you are presenting is Spin on a decision for PR purposes. (You?) They should own it for heavens sake. Besides, even if your scenario was true I would have considered keeping our Supt. on as long as he was willing? DId you consider that? Can we discuss it? A transition is a transition now or later so what's wrong with later, and why now exactly? You mention that plenty of people support the decision....what decision? The one to "push him" out or the one to accept his resignation? Those people and others may have had a better chance to voice their opinion last night and attend the meeting if it hadn't been added to the website late Monday instead of on Friday as usual. Didn't the resignation - oops- retirement letter say you got it in Decmeber? I agree to disagree but be honest and factual and please no more Spin.
CowDung January 11, 2012 at 10:29 PM
In the interest of honest facts: He wasn't actually offered the Ohio job, Jay. He was in the running for the job, but chose to remove his name from consideration...
Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 10:53 PM
r. McCann was burning the candle at both ends for a long time and requested money in a future budget for administrative help to relieve some pressure while adding to teacher development and classroom improvement. He expected the money and support would be there however as a hedge he put his name in the hat for another job. People do that all the time. I for one think it's great that Shorewood school employees are in demand. The Board decided not to renew Dr. McCann's contract. To this day Dr. McCann is not clear why some on the School Board do not support him continuing. He was "forced" to accept a retirement plan or expose his family to the risk of not having insurance and other benefits while he looks for another job. Dr. McCann and the School Board are legally bound by the terms of their agreement not to discuss the details of this matter. I find it unacceptable, regardless of the reasoning or justification, that the School Board would make a decision of this magnitude without first soliciting input from the community. In addition, they should have advised Dr. McCann in writing of their dissatisfaction and of the improvement they expected from him prior to forcing him into a "retirement' decision. The School Board is naive and arrogant to think they could keep the non-renewal threat a secret. Poor judgement and mismanagement all around. Smells like a recall may be in order.
CowDung January 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM
I thought that McCann had a contract through 2013. How do they "non-renew" a contract that was already renewed last February? From the article above: "McCann's contract was renewed last February through the 2012-13 school year. His 2011 salary was $152,250, according to figures from the state Department of Public Instruction."
Jen D January 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Dr. McCann started looking for new jobs two years ago. His resume, including an open container violation were on the Internet. He interviewed and didn't get the two jobs he applied for and then he said he decided to stay. He was applying for these jobs when John Carlton was on the school board. I agree that there is more here than has been discussed but how do you know McCann is not guilty of something like the minutes fiasco or worse and the Board is helping him save face? I have found in my business that managers are given a graceful way out when they have screwed up because it saves legal expenses. I know a couple of teachers and they told me that this is no loss.
Doug January 12, 2012 at 03:32 PM
While I wish Dr. McCann well, I am deeply saddened for the community. He is a true leader and passionate about educating students. This is an unnecessary loss. To the school board: your decisions have a lasting impact on all of the students in this community. Please start to put your personal and political agendas aside and fulfill your mission. Own your decisions. True leaders do not behave this way.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something