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Marian Central superintendent ousted

Rockford Diocese also has taken over for Council of Administration

A sign in front of Marian Central Catholic High School shows that the class of 2022 is now forming, however it will be without superintendent Steve Baldwin, who was fired from his position at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock.
A sign in front of Marian Central Catholic High School shows that the class of 2022 is now forming, however it will be without superintendent Steve Baldwin, who was fired from his position at Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock.

Marian Central Catholic High School Superintendent Steve Baldwin has been terminated amid what the school’s executive council members call “much larger issues of leadership” with the Diocese of Rockford.

“The Diocese has repeatedly and routinely bypassed the bylaws and constitution governing Marian Central and ignored any of the recommendations and requests of discovery from the Executive Committee concerning actions taken against Mr. Steve Baldwin,” a letter from the Laypersons of the Executive Committee obtained by the Northwest Herald reads.

At least one action included a “substantial reduction” in Baldwin’s salary, according to a report from the committee.

Baldwin has been replaced by interim superintendent Vito DeFrisco, who also is assistant superintendent of schools for curriculum, assessment, and school recognition with the Diocese of Rockford, according to its website.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the diocese confirmed the “discharge” of Baldwin and that the school’s Council of Administration no longer was in power, what the diocese termed “abeyance,” per orders from Bishop David Malloy.

The diocese said it “will be evaluating the constitution and bylaws of its diocesan high school in the coming months while the high school is under the leadership of [interim] superintendent Mr. Vito DeFrisco. ... Marian Central also will be undergoing its routine financial audit in accord with diocesan guidelines as all diocesan high schools and agencies are required to do.”

Committee members include Ray Jones, of Sacred Heart Marengo; Brian Kelly, of the Church of Holy Apostles, McHenry; John Mercurio, of St. Mary, McHenry; Michael Mocogni, of St. Patrick’s, McHenry; and Scott Shepard, St. Margaret Mary, Algonquin.

Jones confirmed some information in the letter, but declined to comment further. Mercurio also confirmed the letter and said he had unanswered questions about the situation.

“We are uncertain as to where to turn for clarification for our Marian Central Catholic family,” Mercurio said in an emailed statement.    

Baldwin began his role as superintendent at the high school in fall 2017, according to the diocese website.

“We believe Mr. Baldwin’s termination is a great loss to the entire Marian Central community,” committee members wrote in a report.

Other committee members couldn’t immediately be reached Friday.

The committee had planned meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the high school to discuss the matter, according to the committee reports.

This isn’t the first recent change in leadership the school has seen – it has had five leaders since superintendent Tom Landers retired in 2015 after 32 years with the school.

Former Marian Central Superintendent Andy Edmondson was fired in August 2016 after allegations of inappropriate conduct, with the Rev. Thomas Doyle taking over the interim role before Baldwin was hired last year.

Woodstock, where Marian Central Catholic High School is located, is part of the Rockford Diocese district. The school had 661 students in the 2017-18 school year, according to its website.

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