D86 leader currently on leave of absence


Last updated 5/17/2023 at 3:35pm | View PDF

Hinsdale High School District 86 Superintendent Tammy Prentiss has been on a leave of absence since Tuesday, according to a statement emailed by the district at 3 p.m. that afternoon.

“Out of respect for Superintendent Prentiss’s privacy and confidentiality rights, the board of education will make no further comment at this time,” the release stated.

Assistant Superintendent Chris Covino will serve as acting superintendent during her leave. His last day in the district is June 30, after which he will assume the post of superintendent of La Grange Elementary District 102.

“The board has full faith in the ability of Chris Covino to act in Superintendent Prentiss’s absence,” the release states.

The board met in closed session twice Monday night, with one action item — hiring a special counsel — sandwiched between the two on the agenda.

The board voted 5-1-1 to hire the law firm of Robbins Schwartz to provide “legal advice and other services related to the employment, compensation, performance and potential discipline or dismissal of a current employee and to direct the superintendent and district administration to take any and all actions to effectuate the retention of and full cooperation with the special counsel.”

Board President Cat Greenspon, Kay Gallo, Peggy James, Debbie Levinthal and Jeff Waters voted to hire the firm, with Terri Walker voting no and Asma Akhras abstaining.

Reached for comment Wednesday morning, Greenspon told The Hinsdalean she had no comment on whether the leave was paid or unpaid, or on if the board voted to place Prentiss on leave, she volunteered to go on leave or someone else directed her to go on leave.

Prior to Monday, the board had met in closed session twice this month. Once was before the May 11 committee of the whole meeting, which is routine practice. They also had a special closed session meeting May 9, less then a week after three new board members — Greenspon, Gallo and Akhras — were seated.

Prentiss has drawn criticism over the past two years, most pointedly for her handling of Valda Valbrun’s decision to withdraw her name from consideration as a potential diversity, equity and inclusion consultant for the district.

In August, the board was split on whether to grant Prentiss a 1.4 percent salary increase. Board members Peggy James, Debbie Levinthal and Jeff Waters voted against the raise. In another split vote in January, the board approved a 31-day contract extension to take Prentiss to her scheduled retirement date of July 31, 2024. The extension included a clause that Prentiss could not be terminated for her actions related to the Valbrun incident. James, Levinthal and Waters were the three no votes.

Three of the four board members who voted in favor of the salary increase and contract extension — Cynthia Hanson, Erik Held and Kathleen Hirsman — are no longer on the board.

The board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is scheduled to begin in open session at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean


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