Ex-Har­vey schools chief wins $400,000 over ‘ass-kick­ing’ com­ment by board mem­ber

Chicago Sun-Times (Sunday) - - TOP NEWS - BY FRANK MAIN, STAFF RE­PORTER [email protected]­times.com | @FrankMainNews

A for­mer schools su­per­in­ten­dent who claimed a Har­vey El­e­men­tary School Dis­trict 152 board mem­ber threat­ened her by say­ing she was “itch­ing for an ass-kick­ing” has been awarded $400,000 in a re­tal­i­a­tion law­suit filed against the south sub­ur­ban school board.

De­nean Adams said in her suit that she was de­nied a one-year con­tract ex­ten­sion as su­per­in­ten­dent be­cause she asked the board to in­ves­ti­gate pos­si­ble mis­spending by the school dis­trict and was the sub­ject of the threat be­cause of her re­quest for an au­dit.

A jury found in fa­vor of Adams in early Novem­ber af­ter a five-day trial in Chicago in fed­eral court.

“The jury sent a strong mes­sage that school boards have to re­spect the con­sti­tu­tional rights of pub­lic em­ploy­ees,” said Adams’ at­tor­ney Jerome Davis.

Adams’ three-year con­tract lasted through mid-2016. The school board voted to ex­tend her con­tract for an­other year, then re­scinded its of­fer.

Adams had re­placed Mayor Eric Kel­logg as su­per­in­ten­dent in 2013. Kel­logg, whose may­oral term is up next year, held the schools and may­oral roles at the same time.

Adams made $165,000 in her first year as su­per­in­ten­dent, with 3 per­cent raises the fol­low­ing years, ac­cord­ing to court records.

In Fe­bru­ary 2015, the board gave her a good per­for­mance eval­u­a­tion and voted to ex­tend her con­tract through June 2017, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, which said she grew concerned about more than $500,000 the dis­trict had spent on com­puter ser­vices.

In May 2015, Adams asked the board for ap­proval to hire an au­di­tor to re­view the dis­trict’s finances. In July 2015, ac­cord­ing to the law­suit, board mem­ber Ty­rone Rogers called her while she was driv­ing and screamed at her that she was “itch­ing for an ass-kick­ing.”

The Har­vey Po­lice Depart­ment made a re­port but took no ac­tion, the law­suit said.

Two months later, Adams met in a closed ses­sion with board mem­bers and was told they were now un­happy with her per­for­mance, the law­suit said. In Au­gust 2015, the board voted to re­scind her con­tract ex­ten­sion.

Adams said board mem­bers ha­rassed her over the fol­low­ing year and ig­nored her re­quests — in­clud­ing re­ject­ing her rec­om­men­da­tion to fire an em­ployee for call­ing a su­pe­rior “the head n----- in charge.” Adams left the dis­trict af­ter her con­tract ex­pired in July 2016. She said she suf­fered weight loss, in­som­nia and panic at­tacks.

Her law­suit said crony­ism and cor­rup­tion flour­ishes in the Har­vey school dis­trict and that the board “pro­tects its own and pun­ishes any­one who dares to speak out against them.”

Rogers and his wife, Janet Rogers, had been friends with Kel­logg, and Ty­rone Rogers was pres­i­dent of the board when Kel­logg was ap­pointed su­per­in­ten­dent, ac­cord­ing to the suit.

Janet Rogers, who is now pres­i­dent of the school board, was con­victed of a felony in 2002 for de­fraud­ing a col­lege fi­nan­cial aid pro­gram, but Gov. Pat Quinn par­doned her in 2013. She held a seat on the Har­vey school board for two years be­fore she was par­doned.

Ty­rone Rogers is fac­ing a charge of ag­gra­vated sex­ual as­sault in Cook County crim­i­nal court, charged with try­ing to force a woman to have sex in his of­fice at the Har­vey Mu­nic­i­pal Cen­ter in 2016. He’s free on bail while he awaits trial, court records show.

In court fil­ings in Adams’ law­suit, at­tor­neys for the school board said the de­ci­sion to re­scind her con­tract ex­ten­sion had noth­ing to do with her go­ing to the po­lice about Ty­rone Rogers. They have asked U.S. Dis­trict Judge Sharon Cole­man to over­turn the jury ver­dict.

Ty­rone Rogers

De­nean Adams

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