Lawyer: Former superintendent of Marian Central fired after tech purchase miscommunication

Marian Central Catholic High School terminated Baldwin earlier this year

New computers for Marian Central Catholic High School students could be at the heart of Steve Baldwin’s firing, a lawyer representing the former superintendent said.

Baldwin’s firing became public earlier this month. In the months leading up to the ouster, Baldwin had been trying to implement a one-to-one technology program, documents show.

Woodstock, where Marian Central Catholic High School is located, is part of the Diocese of Rockford district.

“[The diocese] claims he entered into a contract in excess of the defined limit under diocese policy,” said Tom Zanck, a Crystal Lake lawyer retained by Baldwin. “In fact, he hadn’t entered into the contract. … He submitted an order which required the diocese’s approval.”

Marian’s Executive Committee approved the “long overdue one-to-one program” in November. A request for bids for equipment was posted in February, and the board decided to work with low bidder CDW Corp. on March 5.

Baldwin, who began his role as superintendent in fall 2017, signed a purchase agreement March 13 to lock in the price, according to a letter from the committee to Michael Kagan, superintendent of schools for the diocese.

The cost of the equipment was more than $12,500, which would have required approval from the diocese. Baldwin sent the proposals and purchase agreement to the diocese for final approval, according to the committee. Baldwin heard back April 17.

“We did not review the proposal on our end, as the proposal had already been signed by Steve and submitted to the contractor,” Deb Beatty, with the diocese, wrote in an email to Baldwin. “As a reminder, all projects and purchases over $12,500 require the approval and signature from the Ordinary or his Delegate.”

The diocese reduced Baldwin’s salary, then fired him 17 days before he was up for a compensation bump and new contract, Zanck said.

Vito DeFrisco, assistant superintendent of schools for the diocese, has been chosen as the interim superintendent through the 2018-2019 school year.

“Change in leadership can be difficult, and as unfortunate as it may be, many times these changes are necessary,” DeFrisco wrote in a letter to council administration members.

He vowed to provide sound financial stewardship and “honor diocesan protocols, policies and procedures along with the prescribed rules and regulations of the Illinois State Board of Education.”

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