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H-F High school board tries to assure the community

Residents continued to raise issues that many say are limiting their trust in the District 233 school board serving Homewood-Flossmoor High School.
At the Aug. 15 board meeting, Board President Steve Anderson promised the audience of about 75 people that he and Superintendent Von Mansfield have been working during the summer on how best to engage the community through a strategic planning process, but it did little to settle issues that many said have been festering since the April school board election. 
Audience members argued the board is not being transparent.
Several speakers questioned newly elected board members Anderson, Annette Bannon and Beth Larocca about issues regarding the firing of the former principal, Ryan Pitcock.
The community was divided after the board released Pitcock from his contract in June 2016. Many falsehoods were spread through social media for months, and audience members said supporters of the three new board members were online instigating the firing of Mansfield who they wanted replaced by Pitcock.
At the board’s June meeting, several in the audience asked if the three had studied Pitcock’s file to determine if the previous board’s action firing him was appropriate. The issue came up again at the August meeting. 
“As a board, we’re all OK with the (Pitcock) decisions,” Anderson said. All seven board members met over the summer with the school’s attorneys, who gave a report on what transpired, but Anderson said no further comment on the Pitcock matter would be offered due to personnel rules.
Audience members seemed most anxious to hear from Larocca, arguing she’d contradicted herself several times in the past.
“You are now in a position of authority. When you take a different position, it makes it seem not real. Retract those statements if they are different,” one woman urged her.
Several people wanted Larocca to directly address the question of the previous board’s actions in the Pitcock case. Larocca said she hadn’t seen the Pitcock file but she did meet with the attorneys. Later in the meeting she apologized for her earlier answer saying she was being too literal. She had seen the file, but it was so large that she didn’t read through it.
Larocca said she’s not on the social media site Facebook and she doesn’t regularly use the internet so whatever was posted in 2016 and early 2017 about Pitcock did not come from her. She said she doesn’t know Pitcock.
She admitted Pitcock was at the restaurant on the night of the election, but she and Bannon said he wasn’t an invited participant at the election celebration.
“We ran on a platform saying we wanted open dialogue,” Larocca said, thanking the audience for their input.

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