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Will O'Brien, Freelance Reporter
8:03 am CDT August 19, 2019

Orland School District 135’s superintendent search is expected to take its next steps forward Wednesday, Aug. 21, during a special meeting between the Board of Education and Ray and Associates, the firm the district hired to aid its search.

The school board voted to hire Ray in early July. The Aug. 21 meeting is intended to be a kick-off, during which the two groups are expected to talk about timelines and process details, according to John Bryk, who has been serving as interim superintendent.

The meeting is to start at 7 p.m. and take place at the district's Administration Center, The Learning Center, 15100 S. 94th Ave. in Orland Park.

The district’s previous superintendent, DJ Skogsberg, resigned in June following a leave. He was the subject of a sexual discrimination lawsuit against D135 that was settled earlier this summer.

Bryk, an assistant superintendent, is set to serve in the interim role until June, with the new superintendent assuming those duties July 1, Linda Peckham-Dodge, the School Board president, previously told The Prairie. Peckham-Dodge said she envisioned the board voting on a new superintendent no later than February.

Ray and Associates’ process — expected to be ironed-out and tailored based on the board’s feedback Aug. 21 — is to involve surveying the board, staff, parents, area businesses and students to build a profile of an ideal D135 superintendent. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based firm then is to vet a large field of candidates, narrowing it through community forums and interviews. The company is being paid $20,100 for its work.

With students returning to D135 classrooms Tuesday, Aug. 20, Bryk said he felt his tenure leading the district has been going “really well” and that he expected a “seamless” start to the school year.

“The support of all the staff has made the transition easy for me,” he said. “Everybody has worked together and filled in where needed.”


Transportation safety

The district also is taking steps to enhance student safety after a school bus driver was charged with sexually abusing several students last school year, Bryk said during the Aug. 12 School Board meeting. 

“There’s a few items the district is going to implement along with the American School Bus Company,” Bryk said, referring the former employer of Arnold L. Monteclar, the driver charged with multiple accounts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

American School Bus is to install a third camera in all its buses to get a better view of drivers, as well as where students enter and exit the bus, Bryk said. The service provider also will start performing random checks of bus video.

The district, meanwhile, will implement random staff ride-alongs and introduce a tip line, through which students can email, text or call to report suspicious behavior, Bryk said. District staff also will undergo additional training aimed at eliminating such incidents.

“Safety is the utmost priority for our district,” Bryk said. “We’re going to continuously move forward with that and add as much as we can to make our children safe on a daily basis.”