Upset Charter Oak parents rally for principal, show disgust for school board

By Marshanna Hester

December 16, 2013 Updated Dec 17, 2013 at 11:23 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Frustrated parents shout their support for a District 150 principal and their disgust against the school board.

Dozens of parents from Charter Oak Primary School chanted, carried signs and wore shirts for principal John Wetterauer before Monday night's board meeting.

Wetterauer is on paid administrative leave while District 150 investigates possible irregular testing procedures.

Board president Rick Cloyd read a prepared statement.

"Regardless of the consequences to the school district or it's staff, the board wants to commend the individuals who displayed admirable courage and forthrightness by voluntarily bringing their concerns about the testing process to the administration's attention," he said. "The qualities they demonstrated are something to which we should all aspire and thanks to their efforts our school district will be a better place for both our students and teachers."

The board did not take any formal action against Wetterauer at the meeting, but parents and students still united to protect one of their own.

Dan Dugal is the chair of the Parent Teacher Committee, special action committee.

"John Wetterauer is entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven otherwise," said Dugal.

Dugal was one of many upset parents who filled the bleachers to defend Wetterauer against allegations of tainted tests scores for special education students.

"We know there are inconsistencies not because there was cheating going on," said one parent. "We know there are inconsistencies because they have disabilities."

"If this is investigated and somehow the school is exonerated, which I think it will be, the superintendent should absolutely seven-oh, be fired," said community member Terry Knapp.

The crowd cheered and clapped after many comments.

But there weren't just parents speaking out. Current and former students showed their support too, just like they say Principal Wetterauer has done for them.

"A lot of people doubted me when I was being bullied," said former Charter Oak student Morgan Sparks. "He helped and supported me and every time he saw me he told me he was proud of me."

"Because of what John gives everyone, if we could just give him an ounce of that back that's all we ask for," said Patricia Eddelmon, Morgan's mother. "It's not fair. This is not what he teaches us. This is not what the district goes by when they say what District 150 is all about."

The board says plans to submit its formal self report to the Illinois State Board of Education by the end of the month.