Lake Forest’s Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Harry Griffith of Districts 67 and 115, tarnished image to follow him into retirement

December 3, 2011

At a special meeting of the Lake Forest School District 67 Board of Education meeting Nov. 20 to deal with the scandal involving Deer Path Middle School Principal John Steinert, there was an angry tone to the questioning. Superintendent Harry Griffith, while taking notes, kept his eyes averted downwards most of the time.

District 67 President Julia Wold appeared to be flustered with little of worth to say, either not willing or unable to address questions that pertained to Griffith.

Following are several of the pointed questions and comments directed to District 67 Board members and Griffith:

1. Julia Wold was asked if Harry Griffith shouldn’t be answering the questions posed, as many dealt with the superintendent’s fitness to remain in his position?

2. When asked if Superintendent Griffith would be investigated, Wold suggested that it would be taken under advisement.

3. Insistence for a response to question two led to another inquiry dealing with the same issue, whether or not there would be an investigation into Griffith’s involvement which the questioner perceived as a coverup? Answer by Ms. Wold: “Will discuss with the rest of the board.”

4. Following, a citizen asked when a response to question three could be expected?

5. Upon receiving a non-answer, the next questioner inquired whether the board had ever requested the resignation of Harry Griffith in its closed Executive Session?

6. One extremely angry citizen spoke of Superintendent’s Griffith’s unbelievable parachute of benefits when he retires at the end of this year: Five years of free medical care; gift of a car that Griffith now uses paid for by Districts 67 and 115, and house mortgage payments continuing? The citizen then said of the superintendent: “Harry Griffith has bamboozled the taxpayers for two years in a total coverup. Is this how my tax dollars are being spent?”

7. Another upright Lake Forest citizen compared the Lake Forest situation to the current Penn State scandal where both involved were fired, the coach and the one who covered up an incident that might have prevented more sordid behavior from escalating.

8. The board was then reminded that had the Steinert incident been treated differently two years ago and rectified, none of this would be happening today.

9. The idea of a task force being formed was ridiculed. Retorted one questioner: “You mean those who erred (the board) will decide who will be on the Task Force!”

10. Another citizen thought too much time was being spent by the board to correct school policies through the proposed establishment of a task force, etc., to deal with future issues that might present themselves, with not enough thought being given to dealing with the issue at hand.

11. By far this was the most potent remark of the evening: “I don’t think we need a task force; we need leadership. A true leader would have done more in 2009. A true leader would resign now. The board should have asked for Harry Griffith’s resignation at its closed executive session.”

12. Julia Wold refused to comment whether the board had asked for Superintendent Griffith’s resignation.

13. As to the admission that three of the present board members were on the board back in 2009 and were aware of the Steinert situation but didn’t act at the time, all three were asked if they planned to resign? Julia Wold answered “no.”

14. The last order of business was that the resignation of John Steinert was accepted.

Was there no curiosity by Superintendent Griffith to find out the nature of the redacted information in the police report? After all, Steinert WAS ARRESTED back in 2009.

All in all, this is the first time Superintendent Griffith has come under fire. He will have to defend himself, if he is able to. Without doubt Griffith’s image is now tarnished, and this image will follow him into his retirement.

 
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