Charter Oak principal's attorney challenges integrity of District 150 investigation

By WEEK Reporter

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 10:48 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Peoria District 150 had previously launched an internal investigation of testing procedures at Charter Oak Primary School. The concern is over irregularities between ISAT test scores and academic achievement by Special Education students at the school. Principal Wetteraurer's attorney, Nile Williamson challenged the integrity of the investigation.

According to Williamson, the investigation, lead by superintendent Granita Lathan, involved interviewing special needs students, asking them to recall testing conditions since 2008.

"It would be very difficult for a seventh grader to remember testing conditions from three years back," said Williamson.

After the investigation, Principal John Wetterauer was placed on paid administrative leave. Williamson said the teachers who supposedly administered the "tainted" tests are not likely to be punished. Wetterauer may not be treated the same way.

A letter from Lathan to District 150 parents sent Thursday late afternoon indicated that Wetterauer's administrative leave was a move protect the integrity of the investigation. It indicated that the investigation "resulted in evidence that school personnel did not comply with the ISAT testing protocols established by the ISBE."

Williamson said he was familiar with the interviews that the district used as evidence.

"I looked at the quotes and there is no indication of any inappropriate behaviors," said Williamson.

Williamson believes that Lathan's underlying goal is to get Principal Wetterauer to leave District 150.

"I don't think Mr. Wetterauer ever had any blemish on his professional record until this superintendent came to district 150," said Williamson.

Williamson indicated that Lathan has tried to out multiple of his clients. He said he represented three other school principals and a former associate superintendent--all who he said Lathan has taken action against.

"Quite certainly it's the superintendent that holds the hammer," said Williamson. "She's the one who's lead the allegations, put my client on administrative leave, and has the ability to control my clients professional destiny."

Ultimately, the District 150 School Board has the final say. Williamson and Wetterauer said they are just waiting for the board's next move.

"We think the board of education has two choices at this point--they can rectify a very unfair situation involving one of their best principals or they can rubber stamp the actions of the superintendent regarding my client's administrative leave to the detriment of taxpayer dollars, " said Williamson.

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