SAUK VILLAGE | A former superintendent for the Rich Township High Schools was hired Monday for the identical post for the elementary school district.
The School Board for Community Consolidated Schools District 168 met in closed session for one hour on Monday, then took a 4-3 vote in favor of the hiring of Donna Simpson Leak to be the school district’s superintendent for the 2014-15 school year.
Following that vote, two School Board members – Aisha El-Amin and Jimo Kasali – said they were enthusiastic to have Leak as head of the school district.
“This district is extremely lucky to find her,” Kasali said, adding that collective grade point averages rose at the Rich Township high schools in Olympia Fields, Park Forest and Richton Park while she was in charge.
Among the three School Board members who voted against hiring Leak was Board President Sharon Davenport, who said she accepted the majority of the board wants her, and she will make an effort to cooperate with Leak.
“I will work with the person the majority of the board goes with,” she said.
Davenport said Leak was one of 45 people who applied for the superintendent’s post, and one of seven who was interviewed by the full School Board. The BWP & Associates consulting firm weeded through applications to pick the finalists for board consideration.
School Board Vice President Tammy Jones and board Secretary Melvin Stevenson were the other two board members to vote against hiring Leak, who declined to comment Monday to The Times.
Just after the vote, Leak said she plans to make the students of District 168 her top priority.
“My number one priority is to get the students everything they need,” she said. “I want to make a difference in this world. That is why I’m here.”
During the Monday night session, no mention was made publicly of Leak’s conflicts with the District 227 School Board that ultimately dismissed her in June 2013.
Published reports at the time indicated Leak was dismissed by the D.227 School Board because of allegations related to her handling of student expulsions and because a school board member was allegedly locked out of a board meeting.
Leak at the time said her dismissal was because School Board members were biased against her, and she filed a lawsuit seeking $800,000 in damages that claims civil conspiracy, breach of contract and intention infliction of emotional distress.
Leak said Monday that lawsuit is still pending in Cook County Circuit Court. Eric Hampton, communications director for Rich Township High School District 227, declined to comment regarding Leak on Tuesday.
Leak, a Flossmoor resident, has a Ph.D. in administration from Loyola University, and also has degrees from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Governors State University.
She worked for the Rich Township high schools in several roles since 2005 and, for two years before that, was an assistant principal in the Chicago Public Schools. She also has held teaching posts at Homewood-Flossmoor High School and at a northwest suburban Arlington Heights junior high school.
Earlier this year, Leak was one of two finalists for the post of Kankakee School District superintendent, according to the Daily Journal newspaper.