Thursday, June 02, 2005

Winnetka Greeley School Principal takes witness stand today at trial

Links fixed and slightly revised at 1:15 pm

I have written here and here about the Winnetka Public School’s Superintendent, Dr. Rebecca van der Bogert, failing to disclose all relevant information to her school board prior to its decision to hire Kevin Dorken as its new Greeley School Principal, effective fall, 2005. [Dorken has already begun working with others in the Winnetka Public Schools (“WPS”) District 36]. I have written in the same posts that the Winnetka School Board, after learning of the failure to disclose seemed to say, “So what.” A number of parents seemed to have a different attitude, noting the loss of trust in the community due to the actions and huge lapse in judgment of Winnetka's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Rebecca van der Bogert.

I have argued in the referenced posts that the arrogance of the Superintendent and apparent failure of the school board to take its fiduciary duties seriously is fairly common in other affluent and middle-class suburban, public school districts, and perhaps in inner city areas, as well. So, if you do not live in Winnetka, or even the North Shore or another affluent suburb, this post is probably relevant to you.

Any school board, whatever its geographic location, should exercise independent judgment and act with due diligence in its oversight and decision making responsibilities. The Winnetka School Board does not appear to be doing that, to say the least.

Kevin Dorken, the new Greeley School Principal, who was named as a defendant in a civil wrongful death action along with the Glenview School District five years ago in a lawsuit that alleges the School District and he failed to exercise ordinary care and is being heard this week in the Circuit Court of Cook County, will take the witness stand later today, Thursday, at Room 2609 of the Daley Center, starting with Dorken testifying around 1:30 pm.

Supt. van der Bogert believed she had sufficient facts, five months ago, to conclude that there was no negligence on Kevin’s part and therefore she had no concerns about his judgment as Greeley’s principal, and recommended to the Board that he be hired without informing the Community or her Board about the allegations that are the subject of the trial this week. Will Winnetka Public Schools' Supt. Rebecca van der Bogert show up today in Judge Dooling’s courtroom to see how this plays out with a real judge and jury, as opposed to the analysis she apparently employed to make her decision.

How will Kevin Dorken respond when he is asked how long was he out of the classroom, away from his kids, before the deceased, Casey Fish, began to choke and suffocate to death. Why was he out of the classroom? Did he notify the teachers in the adjacent classrooms that he would be away from his students and could those teachers keep an eye on his students. Did the physical layout of the classrooms permit the other teachers to "keep an eye out."?

How will Kevin Dorken respond when he is asked how long does he think it was that 6th grade student, Casey Fish, was choking before another teacher or nurse showed up to try, unsuccessfully, to prevent the student from choking to death from the game she was playing [Chubby Bunny]. Had Dorkin been in the classroom, instead of outside of the classroom, when Casey Fish started choking, does Dorkin think Casey Fish would be alive today?

What did new Winnetka Greeley School Principal and then Glenview Teacher Kevin Dorken tell the Glenview School District about these matters? What did he tell Supt. van der Bogert about these matters? Why did Dorken feel it was important to tell Casey’s father two days after the death of his daughter that he wasn’t in the room when she started suffocating? After he said that, why was he ushered out of the room? By whom?

Just a few questions for Winnetka's new Greeley School Principal, Kevin Dorkin, and his highly paid sponsor [about $300, 000 per year], Winnetka Public Schools Superintendent Rebecca van der Bogert. These appear to questions that Winnetka's school board has no interest in trying to have answered.
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