Superintendent contract extension a 'shameful legacy'

The District 86 School Board presented a master class in abuse of power and obfuscation at its Jan. 26 meeting, when the majority bloc (Erik Held, Kathleen Hirsman, Cynthia Hanson and Terri Walker) voted, with only 48-hours notice, to extend the employment contract of Superintendent Prentiss by a mere 31 days (to 7-31-24) without any clear explanation of how the extension served the interests of the district and with no analysis of the financial impact to taxpayers.

Simultaneously, the majority amended Prentiss’ contract to prohibit any future board from terminating Prentiss for her well-documented deception in doctoring and publicizing an email from a DEI consultant that portrayed Hinsdale as racist and a “dangerous place.” After totally ignoring a petition signed by almost 2,300 individuals calling for Prentiss to be terminated (, the majority bloc now attempts to contractually tie the hands of a newly elected board against taking such action.

The “red-herring” explanations offered by the lame duck members fooled no one. The purpose of this contractual amendment was obvious to virtually all in attendance: 1. to artificially inflate the already-rich retirement benefits for Superintendent Prentiss and 2. to prevent a successor school board, to be elected on April 4, from terminating Ms. Prentiss.

Shockingly, this brazen 4-3 vote was taken with no analysis or discussion of the underlying cost to taxpayers. In response to questions from the audience about the costs, the board majority simply sat in stone-faced silence.

What a shameful legacy these departing board members leave behind. — Dale Kleber, Hinsdale