When Robert Libka’s qualifications precluded him from holding the superintendent’s position on an interim basis last year, District 209 moved Phylistine Murphy to the helm and named Libka as the chief education officer.
Since hiring a full-time superintendent in August, Libka and Murphy have both been assigned to new positions as assistant superintendents, though it’s unclear which administrative slots will remain in tact over the long haul.
Superintendent Stan Fields is reviewing the district’s administrative structure, but said long-term arrangements will likely not be made until July 2007. The structure presently in place will hold through the remainder of the fiscal year, Fields said.
In February, the district’s board of education voted to hire the consulting firm that ultimately led to Fields’ hire and President Chris Welch hinted that Libka’s job could go on the chopping block in favor of “a more traditional structure.” Welch recently softened his stance and said he is waiting for recommendations from Fields regarding the administrative hierarchy.
“After we as a board hire a superintendent, we let the superintendent run the school and make recommendations to us,” Welch said.
The district’s shuffling of administrative titles to accommodate Libka drew the attention of both state and regional education offices. The Illinois State Board of Education even wrote a letter to District 209 asking for some assurance that “Dr. Murphy is acting in the capacity of the school superintendent and not just in name.”
According to both of those offices, Libka no longer lacks the certifications necessary to function as a superintendent.
“He’s certified for that,” Regional Superintendent Robert Ingraffia said. “He has the credentials for that.”
Last summer Ingraffia was the one who informed the Proviso Township district that Libka was not properly certified to serve as the interim superintendent. Libka has since obtained a one year certification while he completes the process for a five year certificate, Ingraffia said.
According to a spokesperson for the ISBE, Libka’s one-year certification was issued in July of this year, and he passed a state superintendent’s exam in October 2005.
Libka said he is willing to take on whatever role the board prescribes for him, and declined to offer his own predictions for his future with the district. Libka also declined to comment on his job title, but described the responsibilities.
“I’m working in an assisting role to the superintendent,” Libka said.
Though Fields named Libka as an assistant superintendent, the district provided a job description for Libka that named him as the chief education officer.
Whether D209’s administrative structure is typical, Ingraffia said that it’s not uncommon for a high school district to employ several assistant superintendents.
Of the 27 high school districts in Cook County, 13 employ at least two assistant superintendents, according to the regional superintendent’s web site. Several other districts employ administrators directly subordinate to the superintendent, though their titles do not specifically name them as assistant superintendents.
“It’s not unusual for a high school district to have a superintendent and a couple of assistant superintendents,” Ingraffia said.
District 209 has roughly 6,000 students between its three campuses.