Details emerge regarding Sorrick resignation letter

By on September 5, 2014

KANELAND—The Kaneland School Board on Aug. 25 approved the hire of Dr. Ken Sorrick as interim Kaneland superintendent.

The next day, Sorrick resigned from the position.

Sorrick on Aug. 26 wrote a letter to Kaneland Board President Cheryl Krauspe detailing why he resigned the day after he was approved to serve as interim superintendent.

“Please forgive me, but I could not sleep last night, and for personal reasons, I just can’t take this job,” Sorrick wrote. “My skills are not designed for dealing with a certain personality on the board. It is not a good match. I would not be able to accomplish what your district needs.”

Sorrick, a Plainfield resident, had been a superintendent for North Palos School District, and also had experience as a teacher, dean, assistant principal, and elementary and high school principal.

According to Krauspe, Sorrick had led the North Palos School District to receive the Illinois State Academic Excellence Award and Lincoln Foundation’s Bronze Award for Organizational Excellence.

“He’s a leader in every sense of the word,” Krauspe said at the Aug. 25 meeting.

Sorrick had been approved by the majority of the Kaneland School Board at that meeting, with the exception of Tony Valente. School Board Vice President Teresa Witt was absent from the meeting.

Sorrick did not directly name the board member in question.

“The way a certain board member disrespects you, disrespects the superintendent, disrespects the assistant superintendent, disrespected your union representative and disrespected me would make it difficult or impossible for me to accomplish some of the basic tasks of being a superintendent,” Sorrick wrote. “He does not function in a business-like manner, and he turns concerns into personal attacks on others. He does not want to solve problems; he wants to create problems.”

Sorrick further noted that the board member walked out of executive session when the superintendent search was being discussed, and also made an accusation of unethical behavior.

“When he made the comments about my contract, in a public meeting, in front of the press, he crossed the line,” Sorrick wrote. “He did not make me feel welcome, and I do not want to work anywhere my services are not valued.”

Sorrick also took issue that the media questioned him about 100 days because of comments from said board member. Because Sorrick is retired, he can only work up to 100 days due to limits set by the Teachers’ Retirement System.

In regard to Sorrick’s limited workdays, Valente said that his concern is that there could be a “large portion of time without a superintendent,” adding that there may not be a superintendent from December to March. He gave scenarios of things that could happen in February, such as a crisis or the need to have a master schedule and staffing for the next school year.

“We really needed to find somebody who was conducive of our time schedule,” Valente said during the Aug. 25 meeting. “I’m against this contract.”

When asked this week if he agreed that Sorrick was referring to him as the “certain board member,” Valente did not confirm that it was him.

“I don’t know,” Valente said. “I can’t look in his mind and know what he’s thinking or who he’s talking about. He never said anything to me specifically that that’s what it’s about, that it’s about me.”

Valente took issue with Sorrick bringing up what happened at executive session, saying that should not be shared with the public.

Valente also spoke on how Sorrick felt disrespected.

“I know he felt disrespected because someone questioned him,” Valente said. “And that’s what we do. I’ve been in education for well over 20 years. If I felt disrespected every time someone questioned me, I wouldn’t be in this field anymore.”

Valente said it was “not the worst thing for him to resign.”

Sorrick was set to receive a salary of $90,000 to work up to 100 days.

“If it’s somebody who can’t handle difficult questions, I think it was a smart move on his part to resign,” Valente said. “This is not a school district where you’re going to skate through. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s a district where people are going to ask tough questions. And we expect answers.”

Valente spoke about challenges when it comes to jobs.

“When I look at positions, when I look for jobs, I look for challenges,” Valente said. “And those challenges are what I try to overcome. If he saw a challenge, he should have really run to that challenge. Not run away from it.”

Sorrick had expressed his plan to “keep the district running” after attending his first board meeting last week.

“I hope I can help out, help the district out,” Sorrick said on Aug. 25. “Really, I think the main goal that the district has is to find a permanent superintendent. And so I’m going to help them out with that search and get that process going. And I think it will bring more stability to the district once you have that position filled.”