Retired teacher Lee Talley and the crooked Lincoln-Way superintendent, Lawrence Wyllie.

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Lawrence Wyllie.

It has been a couple of years since I heard from Lee Talley.

Lee is a retired teacher and he wrote a few blog posts that I posted here.

One of them two years ago concerned the closing of Lincoln-Way North High school.

He said it was “a death in my neighborhood.”

There was a death in my neighborhood last Thursday night.

No shots rang out.  No sirens wailed.   No yellow police tape cordoned off the scene of the crime.  Even worse, the 800+ witnesses could do nothing to stop it.

Last Thursday night, the Lincoln High School District 210 School Board voted 5-2 to close Lincoln Way North High School.  Time of death — 8:58 p.m. 

And now the year-long wake begins.  I feel sorry for the kids and parents, especially the Class of 2017 who will have to spend their Senior year in a new environment.  It’ll be like starting all over again.

Built in 2007, Lincoln Way North opened in 2008, followed by Lincoln Way West in 2009.  Each school has the capacity for 2,500 students.  Both schools are state-of-the-art buildings, with all the bells and whistles that could be thought of at the time.

Now one has been pronounced dead and the other is most certainly on a “death-watch” as enrollment continues to decline.

I always feel bad when a school closes. But Lee shared how this happened because of financial shenanigans involving the superintendent, Lawrence Wylie.

In 2005, a $225 million referendum to build the two new high schools was passed by the district’s taxpayers after the District 210 School Board and then-Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie vigorously pushed an alarmist agenda that “the education of students is going to suffer if we don’t plan for the future now.” 

Of course, Wyllie is retired and living in Florida, collecting his $300,000 pension, not returning phone calls or answering questions, while new Supt. Dr. R. Scott Tingley is left holding the bag.  And doesn’t this seem to be a familiar scenario these days with all these long-time power players?

Lee wrote:

Politicians have made a mess of education.  Bowing to political whims, special interests, and private money.  They keep inserting themselves and their wacky ideas into schools where they have no business going.  I keep threatening to write a piece entitled, “No Politician Left Behind.”

Lee got it right, of course. And although I haven’t heard from Lee Talley in a while, I got an email from him today.

His email included this:

Anyway, this just came out today.  The Feds indicted former Lincoln Way High School District 210 Lawrence Wyllie on fraud charges today….

Supposedly more indictments are to follow…including former board members…

He sent me a link to today’s Chicago Tribune.

Lawrence Wyllie, the former Lincoln-Way superintendent who led the south suburban district into academic prominence and then set it on a course of fiscal ruin, has been charged with fraud.

Federal prosecutors allege Wyllie, 79, hid the “true financial health” of Lincoln-Way High School District 210 by misusing millions in bond money and fraudulently spent school district funds on personal projects, including Superdog, a dog-training school he ordered built.

Thanks to Lee Talley, you read it here first.

Feds looking into Lincoln Way ex-Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie.

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Feds open an investigation of Lincoln Way ex-Superintendent Wyllie.

Hey Fred,

Been a long time since I’ve emailed you.  Hope all is going well…happy and healthy.

I’ve  been extremely busy working with the Lincoln Way Area Taxpayers Unite group trying to stop the closing of Lincoln Way North High School.  Very sad…

But during this journey we’ve uncovered so much corruption, mismanagement, and insider deals  that it will make your head spin.  We were in court last Friday and were told to expect a decision via mail by June 20th.

Unfortunately it’s left me no time to gather my thoughts and write another article.  Hopefully soon though.

Below is an article which broke at 3 p.m. today…The Feds are now involved and are finally going after the former supt. Lawrence A. Wyllie.

Take care and have a great summer,

Lee R. Talley

Proud Retired Educator

May 23, 2016

U.S. Dept. of Justice ‘investigation’ ongoing into LWD210, Wyllie

by Meredith Dobes, Contributing Editor

Lincoln-Way Community High School District 210 was subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to testify before a grand jury May 18 at the Dirksen Federal Building in Chicago, according to a subpoena released Monday, May 23, by Taryn Atwell, community relations director for District 210.

District 210 was required to bring to the hearing a variety of documents and recordings from Jan. 1, 2000, to present, many of which related to former superintendent Lawrence Wyllie. The subpoena was dated May 4.

The former district leader retired in 2013, but his tenure recently has come under scrutiny. Financial decisions, some made directly by Wyllie without board approval, are being questioned. Results of a comprehensive agreed-upon procedures audit of May 2006, February 2007 and December 2009 bond issues determined the district spent money “inappropriately” in accordance with State law during his tenure.

The records requested included salary and compensation information for Wyllie; other forms of reimbursement to Wyllie, particularly relating to travel and training; complete personnel files for Wyllie; reimbursement records for unused leave for Wyllie; attendance reports and applications for leave for Wyllie; requisition and approval forms for all payments made to all American Express and other credit cards used by or on behalf of the district or Wyllie; all records related to the Superintendent’s Emergency Fund(s) at the district; School Board policies and procedures; School Board meeting memorandum, minutes, details and recordings, including from closed sessions; records related to misappropriation of federal, State and local funds, including bond funds, restricted funds and student activity funds from 2006-present; and all records related to the district’s participation in the E-Rate program.

Atwell said both district and School Board members have been advised not to comment on any items pertaining to the investigation and did not answer any questions related to the subpoena.

Joseph Fitzpatrick, public information officer with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, said the district cannot confirm or deny the existence of investigations and can only comment if criminal charges are filed.

Responding to Armando Lopez.

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– By Lee R. Talley, proud retired teacher

“I thought my head was going to explode!”

That’s what I thought after reading the post from Armando Lopez.  Wow!  How naive you must be!

In my long career in education I found the vast majority of consultants provided no value (“No bang for our bucks!”) and inservice days to be nothing but time-wasters (“usually busy work for teachers”).  One year we spent every Institute Day developing new classes, outlining curriculum, writing goals and objectives for them.  I believe they’re sitting on a shelf in a box somewhere at District Office.

I retired in 2011 and for the last Institute Day of the year the district booked this renowned educator from Virginia.  She was paid $8,000 for the day, plus expenses.  What did we get for that?  She read verbatim from a powerpoint for a little over three hours.  Sitting at the back of the auditorium I saw nothing but the glowing lights of cellphones and computer tablets.

After an hour I couldn’t take it any more.  I went up to my room and Googled this woman.  What a surprise…she hadn’t been in a classroom for 24 years!  Hmmm, has anything changed in that time?  Yeah, right!  I stayed in my room and put my time to better use working on yearbook and newspaper.

What I’ve derived from suffering through years of these “educational consultants” is that 95% of them are totally useless and provide “information” that has nothing to do with actual classroom teaching.  We had one that I labeled the “prop consultant” because she has a trunk full of toys (like comedian Carrot-Top).  We also had the “finger exercise / people in a lifeboat” consultant, the “put in the parking garage” consultant, and the “now close your eyes and imagine” guy.

What consultants do is provide cover for leadership to absolve them of any responsibility for the decisions that they themselves are too afraid to make.  When things go bad they can always point to the consultants and say, “We were just following what they recommended.”

Bringing in consultants allows leadership to give the appearance that they’re doing something… anything.  It’s “change for the sake of change.”  I used to say every year was like Chinese checkers.  You’d close the lid, shake it, then open it up.  “Wow!  Everything looks so shiny and new!”

It always bothered me that those in charge were always so willing to take whatever suggestions / recommendations these consultants put forth rather than listening to their staff, the people that actually know and teach their students every day.  Trust me…you want to know what’s right and wrong with your school, ask your staff and students.

In 1999 I was one of two people in our building that were in charge of Comprehensive School Reform efforts.  We traveled several times to Washington D.C. to meet with officials from the Department of Education.  They mandated that we had to use people from their list of “official consultants.”

Let me tell you, after interviewing and booking some of these “experts,” we just rolled our eyes at the lack of quality and professionalism.  The two good ones we actually found that the staff trusted were fired for standing their ground after getting into disagreements with our superintendent (even though this process was supposed to be teacher-driven).

At our first meeting in D.C. they introduced the president of the umbrella reform organization, New American Schools.  She was 28 years old, white, had never taught in a school, and was working on her masters degree.  All I could think was,   One of the older teachers with me whispered in my ear, “You know, in the old days we went to each other for help and ideas.”

After a half-hour I realized it was nothing more than a meeting of the Young Republicans.  Just another way for private companies and politically connected individuals to drain more money away from the classroom.  Today, with the prevelance of charter schools, consulting has become a cottage industry that needlessly drains money away for direct instruction.

But back to another second semester Institute Day.  After having to sit through the consultant from America’s Choice reform model, I happened to run into him upstairs in our computer lab.  He asked me what I thought of his presentation.  I told him I was retiring in June so I didn’t really pay attention.

I did ask him if he and his company could guarantee results?  “Nope.”  Then I asked if they’ll refund our money based on the percentage of unsuccessful students?  “Oh, we can’t do that!”  The look on his face was priceless.

As I like to say, “Put together an entertaining 60-minute show and you too can be a consultant.”