A group of Proviso Township High School District 209 employees have thrown their support behind a Change.org petition calling for the removal of D209 Supt. James Henderson. The petition was created after a controversial Feb. 27 meeting, during which the D209 board voted on a series of massive administrative realignments that includes outsourcing the district’s IT department, which means that many of the department’s current employees may be out of work by the summer.
“Our beloved Proviso Township has hit a new low in the hiring of a out-of-state superintendent James Henderson he is from Holmes County Mississippi where this district is now bankrupt because of his actions [sic],” the petition reads.
“James Henderson is now trying to do the same things that he did to the state of Mississippi. We must have him removed before thousands of Maywoodians jobs are lost. He is incompetent of running our school system. And he has also started a plan of out sourcing different jobs to other companies and also wants to take away the P.A.E.C. Co-op out of the district if he secede this well destroy the school system in which all three schools are not able to handle we Stop Henderson before it’s to late.”
Michael Latham, a Proviso East alum, said he started the petition, which went live on March 2. By Thursday afternoon, it had garnered 263 signatures, more than half the way towards its goal of 500.
“I started the petition after watching the board meeting on Feb. 27, which was a disgrace,” Latham said. “I was shocked and appalled at what I was hearing and what was going on. This is a huge deal.”
Latham said he knows employees who work at D209 high schools “and everyone has had the same notion,” he said. “We know he’s crooked. For this gentleman to come out of state and wipe jobs away from people who have kept three campuses afloat in the middle of a pandemic is totally unacceptable and wrong.”
When contacted on Thursday afternoon, D209 Communications Director Nicole Wilson said she was not aware of the petition, but would bring it to the attention of district administrators, including the superintendent. This article will be updated if and when they issue a response.
Diana Garcia, one of the IT employees who fears that she’ll lose her job at the end of the school year, said she supports Latham’s petition.
“This was highly encouraged by D209 employees,” she said. “We did it with the hopes that people would acknowledge and pay attention to what was going on.”
Garcia said that she and other Proviso East IT workers met with Henderson on Monday for roughly 15 minutes.
“He said now we’re all employed, but with the exception that our last day of employment is June 30,” Garcia said, adding that she and her coworkers are still in the dark about their employment status. She said, “I’m just very confused,” about the changes, which have come as the district upgraded to new Promethean boards and other technology that she said the workers have been effectively maintaining.
But Henderson and some board members said that allowing an outside company to observe the department and make changes will lead to significant improvements and cost-savings. Last year, the administration reportedly conducted an audit of the IT department, but Garcia said she and her coworkers have not seen the audit. Board member Amanda Grant, who voted against the proposal to outsource the IT department, said she had not seen the audit either. At the Feb. 27 meeting, Henderson said he would make the audit available on the district’s website, but that hasn’t happened yet.
“We still haven’t seen that audit, even though we met with the superintendent on Monday,” Garcia said, before lamenting how she and her coworkers have been treated by the superintendent, who was hired last year.
“The first day I saw him was back in August, when we were doing [laptop distribution] for incoming freshmen,” Garcia said. “It was the first or second day and he showed up and walked in … and didn’t say anything. He looked around, then looked at my coworker and said, ‘How can you get upstairs.’ My coworker pointed the way for him and they left. He didn’t say nothing — not thank you or anything. Later, I figured out it was the superintendent. But prior to the [administrative restructuring], he never spoke to us.”
Latham said his goal with starting the petition is to “get rid of the superintendent. That’s our goal, because if we get rid of him we have a chance of at least other people keeping their employment.”
The Review has, under the Freedom of Information Act, requested a copy of the technology audit as well as the other transformational audits commissioned by Henderson.