26 Comments
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

I’m disappointed that she robbed our students of $30,000! As a parent, I had an open mind when Dr. Watson came, but she didn’t come outside to interact with parents or out of her office to interact with students. A few months into the school year my 3rd grader referred to Dr. Watson as a recluse. It bothered her that the principal didn’t want to get to know them like their previous principal (Mrs. Sokolowski) had. Watson would have online chat & chews once a month but only sent the link for it the first time. There after she sent a reminder of the chat & chew with no link, which seems to me like she didn’t want parents to show up, and after a couple months, they didn’t. She also wouldn’t let parents in the building, and she canceled our outdoor school picnic, even though other schools like Washington got to have theirs. When word got out that she referred to Spanish as gibberish to the TWI teachers, that was definitely the last straw. She had to go.

Really, I blame Dr. Horton for this whole thing. Under his leadership, we lost a lot of good principals, and it seems like the new ones aren’t the interacting with the community type. Gone are the days of principals who write newsletters from the heart, wish happy birthday to students during morning announcements, keep morale up with their teachers & staff, interact with students, stand outside during drop-off and pick-up and actually talk to parents. It definitely feels like something is missing.

Expand full comment
author
Apr 18·edited Apr 18Author

(Deleted this comment because it was incorrect!)

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

Interesting. She was down in that area for only one year before coming to Dewey. It made me wonder why she was only there for one year but I tried to keep an open mind. Now I know why she bounces all over the place; no one wants to keep her!

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

I think that must be an old news story.

The current principal since 2022 seems to be Christine Knox - https://decaturish.com/2022/01/westchester-elementary-has-a-new-principal/

or

https://www.csdecatur.net/domain/303

I can't find any current info about Dr. Kimberly Watson.

Expand full comment
author

Thank you for this, my mistake. Editing my original comment

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

As a former Dewey teacher who taught under Dr. Watson during the school year in this lawsuit- I can absolutely, confidently say this is completely ludicrous. Don't believe everything you read. Shame on Dr. Watson for tarnishing the name of the Dewey community and outstanding group of educators that work in that building. No one was out to get her- we were out to find an administrator that cared more about the students in the building than the outfits she wore to school. Who showed up to legal IEP meetings, visited classrooms and knew students names. Someone who accepted, welcomed and learned about the beautiful different cultures and backgrounds of our students, families and staff that were different than her own. Shame on her. If you are ever lucky enough to send your child to Dewey to be taught by the most phenomenal group of educators- you'll quickly see how absurd this whole article is.

Expand full comment
author

Just to be clear, I was just repeating the claims made in the complaint - these arguments made in my article are not my understanding of what happened here (and apparently also the District's)

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

As another former Dewey staff member I couldn't agree more with you Dewey Tiger! It seems like school board member Joey Halipern opened the door to this lawsuit (as well as district administrators--see 31) and she wasn't owed 30 cents much less 30k. A suit for 500k would be laughable if it weren't for the damage she caused to the Dewey community with HER racist remarks and discrimination during her short and painful tenure.

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

There’s sooooooo much more to this story. Lets just say she was no victim.

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

Eye-opening. So many deaf ears.

Expand full comment
Apr 17Liked by Tom Hayden

What a crazy story! I heard from a couple of Dewey parents back then who said their principal was not a good fit and there was some drama, but nothing like this! If any of this is true, that’s an absolute travesty. That said, if I had an attorney that was convinced enough that I had a half- mil case to take it on contingency, I wouldn’t have settled for a paltry $30k, taking home only $20k. I guess it’s all about the evidence you have to take to trial. Smart move on the district’s part to settle for such a small amount. The attorney’s fees alone could have been much more. It’s just one wild ride around here, huh?

Expand full comment
author

As enrollment goes down the drama goes UP!

Expand full comment

only if the drama fits the narrative.....which is why enrollment is down.

Expand full comment
Apr 18Liked by Tom Hayden

First let me say this... I do not know Dr. Watson, the Dewey community or any details about this case, the situation, or the incidents described. But, there are two things to remember intent vs. impact. The intent of the Dewey community and staff may very well have been what is being stated but the impact on a black leader of what was being done may have been totally different. Being a woman of color leading a predominantly white organization is not only hard but isolating. If Dr. Watson did not feel like she had any allies in the building or organization and was asking for help and the help she received did not directly support her, the impact of what was happening very well could have been what she was describing. Shaming someone for what they were going through and experiencing personally as a person of color (without intimately knowing her story, feelings, and journey) is not fair nor does it reflect the work Evanston schools and community say they are committed to around addressing race, equity, institutional racism and changing the outcomes for individuals of color.

Expand full comment
author
Apr 18·edited Apr 18Author

Thank you for this comment, I do think this is important to acknowledge for sure

Expand full comment

Please take a look at Watson's complaint. This is nothing more than a money grab where she is leveraging equal opportunity laws for payout without demonstrating harm.

In the complaint, she fails to produce any actual evidence relating to harassment from the Dewey community--let alone that there was harassment due to her race and gender.

She simply asserts "From the beginning, the staff and administration at Dewey Elementary School were hostile towards Plaintiff because she was a Black woman."

Ok how about an example? "Indeed, throughout August 2021, Plaintiff was repeatedly told that non-Black teachers and staff members were going to “run me out of the building.”

Who told her this? She doesn't say.

Watson: "However, because Plaintiff was Black, the staff and administration at Dewey Elementary refused to accept her as a leader." Zero individuals identified. Zero specific instances mentioned.

"Later in April 2022, at least one teacher resigned because she refused to work for a Black

principal any longer. Plaintiff had previously recommended that teacher for tenure." Really?

Who was this? Where is the resignation letter? Is this how it went down: "Dear Principal, Thank you for supporting me for tenure. You're a great boss and I love working here. However, I must resign because I refuse to work for a Black principal any longer. "

When you compare this complaint to the Sebaggala complaint, while they are both totally bogus at least Sebaggala provided documentation (however weak it was) regarding the supposed defamation she endured. Watson provides nothing to support her claim.

The fact she was asking for the absurd sum of half a million dollars should make any rational person skeptical about her motives.

The real scandal is that the board is settling with her for $30,000. It is such a frivolous suit

The whole story is part of the D65 Amateur Hour show that the Board embodies and radiates throughout the organization.

Expand full comment

Dr. Watson made absolutely no effort. She was not on the playground greeting students at drop off and pick up, she wasn’t meeting parents or following up with correct links to her Chat-n-Chews, she was never in the lunchroom during lunch or walking throughout the building at any point during the day. Students didn’t even know her. She sat in her office with the door closed and never made any attempt to know her students, parents, teachers or staff. On the other hand Mr. Ellison was very responsive, got to know students supported staff and teachers and walked around the school during the day to engage everyone. He also spent time outside during recess, and dismissal. He was a Black man—if there was racism why wouldn’t it be to both. This had nothing to do with the color of her skin, it had to do with her inability to be a leader, part of which i blame district administration for lack of training. Dr. Watson didn’t know the proper letters for LGBTQ, she referred to the Spanish language as ‘gibberish’, she didn’t get a holiday gift yet refused to acknowledge Hanukkah with staff members all while there was a Diwali bulletin board in the hallway outside of her office. She made her bed and her demotion is her own doing.

Expand full comment

How totally out of bounds is it for Board members to get involved in a staffing dispute!?!?

The board’s role is to provide top level policy and fiduciary governance for the district. They hire the superintendent who deals with staffing.

If Halipern is approached by a district employee with a grievance the appropriate response is to forward it to Horton and say ‘deal with it.’

If they don’t like the way Horton deals with employee relations you get a new superintendent. You don’t undermine them by getting involved in these disputes.

Not surprising that Halipern and other board members would get involved, but totally inappropriate.

It’s amateur hour from the top down at that place

Expand full comment
author

I find myself torn on this. On one hand, I think both the D65 and D202 Board too often views their role like the US Senate, "advise and consent" and should be willing to get a little deeper into operations. With that said, I think getting involved in internal HR disputes is a recipe for disaster.

It's also possible none of this happened, the District claims as much in their settlement agreement. So who knows.

Expand full comment

I thought Halipern was just out to get our principal. Two parents independently told me that, after separate bullying/violent classroom incidents, they emailed and met with our principal and were later contacted by Halipern to see if they were satisfied with how the principal managed the incidents (the principal followed district guidelines but there are only so many peace circles a person can go to). I suppose Halipern could have had good intentions but the parents said it felt like he was trying to find a way to get our (pre-Horton) principal fired. These two parents run in different circles, don't know each other, and I didn't bring up one person's incident to the other or mention Halipern -- they just independently volunteered all this info to me.

Expand full comment

No, someone who is still a principal. Interesting (and disheartening) read you linked to though

Expand full comment

Of note, the district just posted open positions for principals at Dawes, Orrington, Willard, and Lincoln.

https://www.applitrack.com/d65/onlineapp/default.aspx?Category=Administrative

Expand full comment
author

Wow I still can't believe they haven't filled the HR or the CFO positions yet. By the summer it will have been a year on both those positions..

Expand full comment

All of those positions are interim for this school year (23-24) so they may have to be posted to hire them officially.

Expand full comment