Community calls on Peoria city council for help changing District 150's leadership

By Katherine Tellez

February 18, 2014 Updated Feb 19, 2014 at 1:55 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- What started as support for former Charter Oak school principal John Wetterauer has turned into something much larger.

Tuesday night, community members gathered at a city council meeting to ask council members for help fixing what they say is a problem with leadership in district 150.

"I think they heard us, I don't think they listen."

That's what Charter Oak parent Chris Martin said about the current District 150 school board.

Hundreds of people rallied Tuesday night -- not only in support of John Wetterauer but calling for a change in leadership.

"They haven't provided the transparency they said they would," Martin said. My hope is for change in the superintendent, change in the school board and my hope is that those changes bring about a positive change to the entire district."

Almost everyone who spoke at the meeting agreed that they want to see the district succeed and that the problem has nothing to do with teachers and administrators but rather the superintendent and the school board.

Parents make up just part of the Change 150 group.

Retired administrators also were there in support of those teachers who they say are too scared of retaliation to speak for themselves.

"We are vested, we do care. Contrary to what the superintendent said last week. We want it to succeed be vibrant and prosper," said retired Richwoods High School principal John Meisinger. "I have nothing but good to say about the district, that's why it saddens me so much to see what's taking place and to see my friends and colleagues and our poor children suffer the wrath of this intimidation and fear.

"There have been great times and times of challenges. There's been agreement and there's been descent. There's been success and room for improvement. But I've always been proud of the Peoria public schools and right now I am extremely disappointed in the direction of the public schools," said former District 150 Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Sanfilip.

Community members hope the council hears their voice and uses their influence to help make a change.

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis said while the council has no jurisdiction over the school board he understands there are situations that people want to make sure the council knows about.

But he doesn't want council meetings to become a platform for continuous debate.

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