Op-Ed: Greater Transparency Will Make Our Schools Safer for Students

Parents Care released a report yesterday detailing our investigation into the termination of Lake Forest High School District 115 employee Ryan Eleveld (known to students as Mx. E) earlier this school year.  Please take a moment to read the Executive Summary and report at this link if you have not already. Parents Care Board Member Philippe Melin writes to remind us why transparency is critical to keeping our kids safe and offer the elected school board a renewed call to action.  

May 24, 2024

Special Report: Lake Forest High School Teacher Misconduct

We have important information regarding alleged misconduct by another Lake Forest High School employee, Ryan Eleveld (known to students as Mx. E), that was not reported to parents or the community. While our investigation is ongoing, and we will keep you updated with developments, we have sufficient information to release a preliminary report. Additionally, we would like to thank the brave LFHS student who used our confidential reporting tool to inform us of this incident. Without his bold action, we would not have been able to conduct this investigation, and neither the parents of children in contact with Ryan Elveld nor the Lake Forest-Bluff community would have ever known what transpired this school year. If you have any additional concerns or information to report, please use our confidential reporting tool. Thank you, Parents Care

May 23, 2024

Good Times For Some, But Not All

Property tax bills have arrived, and Lake Forest-Bluff residents are feeling the heat of Lake Forest School District 115's school board's prodigality.   The portion of property taxes each household has to pay for Lake Forest High School alone increased this year by approximately 17%. Taxpayers are currently paying the costs of the high school's three separate bond issuances, including the Board's unnecessary decision to borrow the full amount of the referendum this year instead of over time.   Ouch.

May 17, 2024

Mo Money, Mo Consultants

Epic rapper Notorious BIG said it all, "Mo Money, Mo Problems," and Superintendent Matt Montgomery and the D67 Board seem to have their version of this rap standard addressing issues at Cherokee Elementary. If the complaints we have received from parents and teachers these last 24 hours are any indication, for Cherokee and other Lake Forest Schools, the title of this song would be:  "MO MONEY, MO CONSULTANTS."

May 07, 2024

Portrait of a Leader

by Jeff Brincat   Whenever I see what I regard as a deficiency in our schools or school boards, I ask, "What would I do were I in that position?" I have employed these mental exercises when confronting challenges in my business, philanthropy, or any other difficult decision. I have had a lifetime of experience in leadership- be it as a Company Commander in the Marine Corps, 27 years of leading my own business, or when running a state agency here in Illinois under two governors and chairing several worthwhile philanthropic organizations- and I always come back to several core principles, which I think are essential to share given what is happening in Lake Forest Schools.

April 18, 2024

The Truth About That Aaa Bond Rating

A Parents Care Editorial by Executive Director Frank McCormick   Tonight, the District sent out two emails celebrating District 67's 14th consecutive year of earning an Aaa bond rating from Moody's. Good news, right? I wish it were that simple because behind the glowing emails is a cold reality: the District scores an Aaa Bond rating because of how much you're taxed.

April 15, 2024

Ensuring Child Safety: Policy Recommendations for Our Schools

As concerned parents and community members, we must take decisive action to safeguard our children's well-being in our local schools.  Recent incidents of adult misconduct have revealed glaring gaps in our schools' policies and practices. Our Boards of Education and Administration must address these deficiencies and implement measures that prioritize student safety above all else. 

April 11, 2024

A Cherokee Teacher Speaks Out

By Anyonymous Teacher Dear Lake Forest, We must advocate for the children in our community. It is not a secret in the Lake Forest community that Cherokee has serious behavior problems, and the district administrators are doing nothing about them.

April 11, 2024

Teachers at Cherokee Are Frustrated

New Admin policies are affecting their ability to teach; teachers allege retaliation for voicing concerns Meet Kate Cavanaugh, Cherokee Elementary School's principal. A review of Dr. Cavanaugh's mentions on Twitter and her published works shows she is passionate about "inclusive classrooms."  At first blush, one might think inclusivity is limited to demography or learning disabilities. But it appears that Dr. Cavanaugh's definition is much broader to include students with significant "social, emotional, and behavioral challenges". For example, she writes: "Seven years into our inclusive practices work [at District 67], things are not perfect. Some of the biggest challenges we face are supporting students with significant social, emotional, and behavioral challenges..." (Actions that Move Us Closer to Inclusion, 8/1/23)

April 04, 2024

An Unexpected Resignation

While the District hasn't formally announced it, Parents Care would like to inform you that Lake Forest High School District 115 School Board Member Marcus Schabacker has announced his resignation from the Board effective April 30, citing unforeseen personal and professional obligations. While we have not always seen eye to eye with Dr. Schabacker- mainly regarding his support of the drawn-out District COVID policies, which we believe hurt students, Parents Care wholeheartedly extends our gratitude to Dr. Schabacker for his service on the Board. 

March 13, 2024

Dr. Montgomery, Please Apologize for Your Unfounded Accusations

In the interest of transparency, we are happy to promote further last week's Lake Forest Podcast, which features Superintendent Matt Montgomery and District115 Board President John Noble. You can view it here. To be sure, we hope you enjoy this opportunity to hear about so many of the district's and board's positions directly from them during this interview. Regretfully, we must call your attention to a grave matter. Superintendent Montgomery’s allegation that Parents Care is an opposition group and, in particular, a very disparaging and baseless allegation he made:

March 11, 2024

Lake Forest Schools Disturbing Secrecy Concerning Child Predators

Reader Warning: Recognizing that this is a sensitive topic, and out of respect to our readers, we wanted to offer an advanced warning to our readers who may find this topic difficult to read about. This issue of our newsletter deals with issues surrounding child predators, sexual abuse, suicide, and substance abuse. Please see our confidential tip line at the end of this email.

March 01, 2024

Breaking: Worker at LFHS Fired for Soliciting a Relationship with a Minor

Note: At the time of publication, Lake Forest Public Schools did not make any announcements concerning this incident, nor did the administration or the Board of Education comment on it. Dear Community:  We are writing you regarding an incident that took place last week at Lake Forest High School. After receiving a tip from a concerned parent and verifying the story with a whistleblower who works at Lake Forest High School, we can confirm that an adult Lake Forest High School food service worker's employment was terminated for soliciting a relationship with a minor. As you can imagine, this is not something we take lightly. The steps we have taken to investigate this incident and promptly notify families and taxpayers in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff communicate just how seriously we take our obligation to child safety and the professional standards we expect from our schools. Our children look to teachers, staff, and building leaders for guidance, support, and mentorship. Anything less is unacceptable. As a reminder, we encourage anyone with knowledge of past or present misconduct to email [email protected] or contact local law enforcement. The Text-a-Tip crisis hotline is also available, provided by LEAD at 844-823-5323 (community code: LAKECO). You may also reach out to Parents Care at [email protected] if you have information about our local schools, positive or negative, that you think should be made public. We always respect privacy and requests for anonymity. Sincerely, Parents CareLake Forest and Lake Bluff

February 24, 2024

Special Report: The $30,000.00 Construction Documentary

At a STARTING cost of $29,424- plus $250/hour- District 115's  "Under the Hardhat" documentary is salt in the wound following Dr. Montgomery's "no fluff" promised $106,000,000.00 tax increase. SUBSCRIBE AND STAY INFORMED The majority of taxpayers agree: Lake Forest High School District 115's recent taxpayer-subsidized publicity stunt- ironically trying to convince taxpayers that their money is being wisely spent- is a bridge too far. We won't be manipulated into "feeling" that our tax dollars are being wisely spent when all evidence shows the contrary.

February 16, 2024

Op-Ed: Rethinking Snow Days

While Chicago winters require schools to balance the importance of school attendance with safety, the administration must update its school closure policies to align their decision with real-time conditions, not a forecast alert. Forecast alerts overstate the impact and magnitude of storm systems due to an industry-accepted practice known as “wet bias” under the rationale that the value to life in overprojecting risks outweighs the inconveniences of public overpreparation. Unfortunately, in their value calculation, meteorological organizations do not consider that school administrations would base closures on advanced alerts and forecasts instead of real-time conditions. However, to be fair, this burden should not fall on meteorologists; we should expect school administrators to differentiate between a public forecast alert and real-time conditions.

January 12, 2024

Sexual Groomer Update

My name is Frank McCormick, the executive director of Parents Care, and I want to use this opportunity to respond to the countless parents and community members who have asked questions and shared their concerns over the employment of a sexual groomer of middle school girls at Deerpath Middle School for over a decade. I want to assure you that both myself and our Board President, Jeff Brincat, are personally involved in getting answers to your questions about both how this happened and how it was handled, as well as if there was any impropriety during his tenure (yes, we have received complaints from former students).

December 29, 2023

Community Op-Ed: "Portrait of a District: the Inconvenient Truth"

Last week, I heard an interview with Lake Forest District 115 & 67 superintendent Dr. Matthew Montgomery and District 115 board president John Noble on Lake Forest on Topic, a Lake Forest for Transparency program.  During the podcast, both men defended the disappointing 2023 Illinois Report Card proficiency rates earned by Lake Forest High School (LFHS) students. Mr. Noble downplayed school-to-school score comparisons, highlighting instead successful academic “growth” over the course of a student’s career at District 67 & 115, and Dr. Montgomery, likewise, emphasized a “constant state of improvement” among students. Dr. Montgomery went on to elicit his favorite talking point that, though 35% of students languish below proficiency in Math and Reading, LFHS ranks among the top 10% of Illinois high schools.

December 22, 2023

Questions Remain on Dist 67 Teacher Termination

On November 14th, Superintendent Matthew Montgomery emailed the parents of Lake Forest District 67 students that the Board of Education had terminated the employment of a middle school math teacher. He was terminated “for engaging, while at [Evanston/Skokie School District 65], in a personal and sexually grooming relationship with a middle school student” and lying about it. (See more details in the image below)

December 07, 2023

LFHS: 1 in 3 Students Left Behind

As fathers of children in Lake Forest Schools, we hoped that the 2022-2023 State of Illinois report card would demonstrate what the Lake Forest Schools administration has been emphasizing about 2021-2022's assessment data: that it was just one data point of minor concern. Yet, to our dismay, the release of the 2022-2023 ISBE report card reveals that the current leadership of the Board of Education and Lake Forest administration continues to leave 1 in 3 children behind. District 115 Percent Meeting Basic Proficiency(Per the State of Illinois)

October 31, 2023

A Disappointing"Post-COVID Recovery..."

Next week, the release embargo on the 2022-2023 Illinois Report Cards will lift, and we expect Lake Bluff and Lake Forest Schools to release assessment results soon after. However, a snapshot preview of District 67's proficiency rates has been released, and after careful consideration, we have decided to share our thoughts on the early preview of District 67's performance.

October 25, 2023