District 47 board meets for first time since superintendent resignation

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake School District 47 board members met Monday for the first time since Donn Mendoza's resignation but only held preliminary discussions in executive session on how to best replace the former superintendent.

Board president Jeff Mason said discussions would focus on setting a framework for how to select the next superintendent and it could be a combination of an internal and external search and may involve hiring a search firm.

He said no decisions would be made, and the board's July 15 meeting would likely be the earliest start of any official search. Because only one board member has been involved in a superintendent search, he said it was important to take time.

"Right now every option is going to be part of the talks," Mason said. "None of us have ever really gone through this process before."

Mendoza's resignation was announced as a mutual agreement during a special meeting June 6. The agreement gives the four-year, former superintendent a $27,870 lump-sum severance payment and up to $23,232 in family insurance benefits – a year's worth of coverage – if he does not find employment within that time.

Kathy Hinz, who serves as the assistant superintendent of Student Service and Professional Development, will act as interim superintendent. Mason said the board has full confidence in Hinz to serve in the role during the start of next school year if needed.

"She has all the credentials to be a superintendent, and she has played a key role here for years," Mason said.

Board member Nancy Gonsiorek is the only one to have served during a superintendent search. She said the last process only looked at internal candidates because that initial stage produced strong candidates before the board settled on Mendoza.

Gonsiorek said this process could be completely different but she had faith in her colleagues because many of them have faced similar situations as business professionals.

"Most of us here have had to hire and fire people in our lives," she said. "We'll all bring that experience."

Mendoza joined the district in 2006 as principal at Lundahl Middle School. He became superintendent in 2009. In 2011, the board approved a contract extension for Mendoza that was set to expire in June 2016.

He was publicly reprimanded last fall for an incident in which a Crystal Lake police officer said Mendoza appeared to be intoxicated and asleep in the back seat of his vehicle a short distance from his house. Mason has said the incident was not a key factor in the decision.

The separation agreement prevents either Mendoza or board members from making disparaging remarks. The agreement also limits Mason to comments in the initial written statement read at the announcement of the resignation.

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