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Suburban High School Dean Suspended

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OLYMPIA FIELDS, Ill. (STMW) – The Rich Central High School dean who sparked controversy when she held a party where a photo of a former principal was burned in effigy was suspended and given a warning letter by Rich Township High School District 227 officials, the SouthtownStar learned Monday.

Meanwhile, the former principal, Maceo Rainey, threatened Monday to sue the district and the dean because of his reassignment.

District 227 board member David Morgan confirmed that the dean, Helga Spoolstra, was suspended without pay from Dec. 1 to 3 for taking a picture of Rainey from the school and placing it in her home in St. John, Ind., and for not coming forward with information about the June 17 incident until Nov. 8, when she was interviewed by attorneys for the school district.

The photograph of Rainey, who had been reassigned to the district’s alternative education evening school program less than a week earlier, was tossed into an outdoor fire pit at the party.

Rainey filed a complaint with the St. John Police Department. Police determined no hate crime had been committed and closed the case, but there were charges of racism and a small group of protesters picketed at the high school.

The district conducted its own investigation, and in addition to suspending Spoolstra, sent her a letter admonishing her for her actions and warning her that “additional incidents of misconduct” could result in termination.

“I don’t know why you’re making a big deal out of this,” Spoolstra told a reporter Monday, declining further comment.

Claiming there were certain “unanswered questions” about the incident, Rainey said Monday he was dissatisfied with the district’s investigation and that it should have been conducted by an outside agency.

“The board’s attorneys are paid by the board and have an interest to protect the board,” Rainey said, adding he is considering filing lawsuits against Spoolstra and the district because of his ouster as Rich Central principal.

“I was told by former Supt. Howard Hunigan that I was removed because a few teachers did not support me, Spoolstra being one of them,” he said.

– SouthtownStar, via the Sun-Times Media Wire

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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