Illinois School Principal Fired After Using District Funds To Buy, Distribute Religious Gifts

| by Nathaly Pesantez

A DeKalb, Illinois, elementary school principal was fired on Monday after she allegedly used district money to buy and distribute religious materials, WNIJ reports.

Shahran Spears, now former principal of Gwendolyn Brooks Elementary School, was let go in a 5-2 decision by the board from Dekalb Community Unit School District 428 on Monday, according to the Daily Chronicle. 

On June 2, the school administration arranged to speak with Spears about her behavior, specifically concerning the use of her district procurement card to buy and distribute prayer and proverbs books to staff members for staff appreciation week.

Spears was also called out for her use of a song carrying religious messages during morning meetings with teachers and students, according to a notice from District 428 to Spears. 

In total, Spears was alerted to eight charges brought against her by the administration. Six of those eight charges were related to her purchase and distribution of religious materials, WNIJ reports. The other two charges were based on teacher accusations that Spears created a non-supportive work environment.

The Daily-Chronicle, however, noted only seven charges against Spears.

Of the many Spears supporters that were present at the district headquarters for the public hearing, 20 were allotted one minute each to speak to the board on her behalf, due to the great number of people.

Some parents feel the decision to dismiss Spears was too harsh. 

“It was her moral values that were key,” said District 428 parent Daniel Pastore to the Daily Chronicle. “Just her presence commands respect. The school records speak for themselves.”

Board members did not comment on their voting decisions in the case. 

Renee Hernandez, Spears’ lawyer, says the district has discriminated against Spears, and plans on filing a lawsuit on her behalf. Spears will talk to her lawyer to discuss appealing her dismissal, according to WNIJ. 

Sources: WNIJ, Daily Chronicle (2)
Photo Credit: Susan Stephens via WNIJ, Daily Chronicle