Danedri Thompson
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USD 231 officials aren’t addressing members of the media, but interim-superintendent Pam Stranathan sent a letter home to parents on the eve of spring break.
Stranathan said she wrote the letter to share thoughts with families of USD 231 students.
“As you are aware, there has been much media attention surrounding our district over the past couple of weeks,” she wrote. “Please rest assured that these issues are being handled through our legal counsel and that USD 231 district administration and staff are committed more than ever to provide first-class service to you, your schools, and your students… Our students come first, and will always come first.”
USD 231 board of education members handed the reins of the district over to Stranathan following a special meeting on Feb. 27. When the meeting concluded, contracts of Superintendent Bill Gilhaus, executive director of human resources and administrative services Lana Gerber and executive director of education services Christy Ziegler were terminated. Stranathan, the then director of secondary education,  was named interim-superintendent.
In the letter, Stranathan writes that she is honored to have been named for the job.
“This is a commitment I take very seriously,” she wrote. “…USD 231 is an outstanding school district.”
At a March 10 meeting, board of education members appointed director of elementary education Jill Smith, as executive director of educational services, and director of special services Jody Marshall, as interim director of administrative services. The board also approved additional compensation for the trio, to be paid between March and June. Smith will receive an additional $3,512; Marshall will earn an additional $10,534; and Stranathan, $16,322.
Administrative shake-ups aren’t the only challenges the three have faced since taking the top jobs at the district. FBI agents and an official from the U.S. Department of Education visited district offices March 12. They interviewed Stranathan and other members of the administration for more than three hours.
An attorney for Gilhaus, Gerber and Ziegler told KCTV 5 that they may seek legal recourse over the terminations. Gerber and Ziegler may also file complaints for gender discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.