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York High School Athletic Director John Rutter Resigns

Elmhurst mayor, during public comment at Tuesday's School Board meeting, claims Rutter and many York coaches have been "pushed" out of their jobs.

York High School Athletic Director John Rutter submitted his resignation to the District 205 School Board on Tuesday, and a team of York coaches, along with Elmhurst's own mayor, are claiming Rutter was forced out of his job.

Mayor Pete DiCianni spoke twice at the District 205 School Board meeting Tuesday. The first time he stood at the podium, he helped congratulate the York Boys Cross Country Team for another state championship.

But the second time he got up to speak, during the public comment period, it was to say that the board needed to pay closer attention to coaching changes at York High School. He said he was speaking as "a father, an alum, a lover of District 205."

DiCianni, who was joined at the podium by York coaches Jim Hedman, Joe Newton, Stan Reddel and Annette Schulte, rattled off the names of nine coaches who are no long coaching or have left York altogether "under the current administration."

"Charlie Kern, Joe Newton's right-hand guy; Bill Lech, former football coach; Terry Clark, another boys football coach; Dave Davis, girls swim coach; Tom Kleinschmidt, boys basketball; Jason Reineke, girls basketball; Bill Sir, Tom Babyar, Dave Williams," DiCianni said. "These are just a few of the coaches who were all recently pushed out of this district. Unfortunately, it looks like our athletic director is being pushed out of the district as well."

Schulte, who is the girls cross country coach, read a letter to the board that was signed by 25 York coaches.

"We, the head coaches at York, are disappointed to hear that our athletic director, John Rutter, has submitted his resignation," she read. "We consider him to be a vital asset to York. He has always exhibited a high level of professionalism in his dealings with us. We can confidently say that he has supported us, our staff, our programs and our athletes consistently as our leader."

The letter asked that the board not approve the resignation until the coaches have time to "consider ways in which we can support him as he has always supported us," Schulte said.

DiCianni suggested that the board has not been paying attention to the coaching changes at York.

"I would really impress upon the board that I think you really have to be watching these particular moves," he said. "It's important that we have the leadership of the coaches."

He used himself as an example.

"I can be the best mayor in the world, but I can only be as good as the employees that we employ at City Hall—it's the policemen, firefighters, the guys that are fixing the streets that really make it happen."

The School Board unanimously accepted Rutter's resignation as part of its consent agenda later in the meeting. His last day with the district is Dec. 31.

School Board President Jim Collins declined to comment after the meeting on the resignation.

"It's a personnel issue," he said. "He submitted his letter of resignation. That's everything there is."

He also had nothing to say about the mayor's comments.

"We don't respond to public comments," he said.

Superintendent David Pruneau said he appreciated Rutter's service to the School District.

"I really wish John the best," Pruneau said.

York Principal Diana Smith also declined to comment on the resignation—or on the mayor's comments—when contacted after the meeting. But she did say during an interview in late August that coaching changes are often for personal reasons, such as family obligations, a better opportunity at another school or a desire to move to another part of the country.

At the time, she specifically spoke to the resignation of several of the coaches mentioned by DiCianni on Tuesday. With regard to Reinecke and Clarke, she said:

"People look at it and say, 'The swim coach quit, and now the head of girls basketball? What is going on over there?' They don't have anything to do with each other. (Reinecke) had an opportunity for an assistant principalship in Michigan. I talked to the principal there on (Aug. 17) and told him he was gaining a great assistant principal. I'm thrilled for him to be able to go."

As for Bill Lech, she said he left on good terms after seven seasons to be closer to his family.

Smith also said back in August that she would be working with Rutter to get feedback, from parents, students and coaches "to make sure we're running a program that's in everyone's best interest."

An attempt to reach Rutter was not immediately successful.

Elm Forest November 15, 2012 at 01:52 AM
Funny how you're yelling and you were in a leadership position of instructing other coaches and kids. And why are you yelling anyway? Take notice? What are we supposed to realize? Please realize your explanatory isn't directive enough. School politics can be demoralizing to many, I understand, but when a lame duck mayor has to grandstand it became a very sad scenario.
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:09 AM
If anyone has values it is the Mayor. From the looks of things the Mayor was trying to help the coaches whom needed a voice. Politics at the high school are crazy and Diana is completely rediculous. It is time for a new principal. I don't think that the Mayor needs to apologize for anything.
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:20 AM
The mayor is not ignorant nor immoral. He is a community voice. He has the stones to talk, not behind a computer screen name but in person. He has the stones to work hard and is an advocate for teachers, citizens, children....I give him a lot of credit. He isn't afraid to speak his mind and that is something that most people couldn't ever do. Maybe you could use a little prayer in your life Jim. Regarding the dual office issue that was settled months ago when he announced that he would step down as Mayor if elected to county board which he was the Republican with the MOST votes. Crazy that the other candidate that was back by the big political powers didn't win=(
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:24 AM
DiCianni was the Republican with the MOST VOTES. The MOST QUALIFIED candidate! He will have a great future on the county board. Proud to say that I voted for him.
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:26 AM
Yes, Thank You!
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
Is Cronan really Cronin?
Dismis November 15, 2012 at 02:28 AM
I agree, what is wrong with this board? Jim Collins, Board President, What are you doing?
A Swim Parent November 15, 2012 at 02:39 AM
If an entire department has issues it is usually due to leadership. The school board needs to take a very long look at the current admin at York. York cannot be that unlucky to have lost so many good coaches. BTW Diane, the swim team coach did not quit. Integrity breeds loyalty, and lack of it breeds fear.
York senior November 15, 2012 at 03:41 AM
As a york senior, I would personally like to see an AD who was more vocal and took more initiative with each team. As far as Ms. Smith goes, she is far from perfect but the district could do much worse. At times she seems disconnected from the student body but I think she has done an above average job at disciplining students and maintaining order. The quality of york should not be determined by test scores, it should be determined by the quality of education each student receives. Quite frankly, the teachers at york have low turnover and are high quality. Bitch all you want about the athletic teams, the purpose of education should actually be the education.
York Booster November 15, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Agree, Jim, our students deserve better! The whole basketball fiasco could have been avoided if Ms. Smith kept the interim coach after Coach Al Biancalana left. Also, Coach Al had a unique situation (once in a life time opportunity) as why he left abruptly. You say John Rutter left with an impossible position.....did he ever have a say in hiring.....good question for everyone to step back and analyze.....
Lynn Calderone November 15, 2012 at 04:58 AM
As a tax paying resident and the parent of children in the school district, Pete has the same right to speak during the public comment period of a school board meeting as you and I! The fact that he was joined by coaches Jim Hedman, Joe Newton, Stan Reddel and Annette Schulte carries a lot of weight in my book. Shouldn't we all be questioning the loss of so many coaches in such a short time? My family's been out of 205 for a while but we have only good things, make that great things to say about our experiences with Charlie Kern, Jason Reineke and Tom Babyar. If there is even the slightest possibility that they were pushed out of coaching in this district then this deserves an investigation. These are all people that have made a huge impact in my children's lives and I find it unfortunate and sad that our present and future young people won't have the same experience!. I personally want answers! What's driving them away? (The Patch needs to stop accepting anonymous comments. It'll cut down on the riffraff. If someone isn't willing to sign their real name then their comment should be deleted!)
Paula Abelson November 15, 2012 at 05:12 AM
An athletic directors job is not necessarily the outcome of every individual sport competition. He in a sense has delegated that to each coach. If you want better attendance at any one particular sporting event that is up to the respective coach for that team and those team coaches if they want to have better chemistry for their teams will remember the parents -and communication to the parents will invigorate the turnout at any competition and likely improve the level of competition of the team members. What is lacking at york is communication by coaches (frosh coaches, soph., jv and varsity). There is very little communication to the parents by coaches aside from one lip service parent meeting at the beginning of the season. Take a look at the sports website for York, no updating by the coaches for their respective teams. That speaks loudly that the coaches do not want to use the best means of communication to the parents and the community.
Paula Abelson November 15, 2012 at 05:17 AM
Karen Chadra is 'The Patch,' at least for this article. It is helpful to read who the 'author' is for The Patch articles.
Paula Abelson November 15, 2012 at 05:20 AM
Not sure how an Athletic Director can ruin a senior year? Possibly was your son on a sports team, and if so what would have created this situation? We can only guess. If an AD has a nit to pick I would guess that would have to be some basis for it in fact, grades, attendance, policy violation of school rules would be a start for such a basis.
John Iwaszkiewicz November 15, 2012 at 05:39 AM
I completely agree with your last comment Lynn. Anyone who isnt willing to publicly stand behind the comments they make should not be allowed to post. Anonymity is the haven of the craven.
To Concerned on Kenilworth. Don't have your view of York or York's administration colored by the comments here. Of course the focus is always on athletics, it is the pervasive culture we are surrounded by. You know, constant media attention on sports such as the mega money sports of football and basketball. The topics at York are made murky and are most provocative when it comes to anything to do with football teams or basketball teams (the swimming coach fiasco is an outlier because there is a super strong parent backing of the swim program). This message board is very very focused on sports and could equally be as focused on academic shortcomings that the York administration is grappling with. Of course, those other grapplings don't get the media attention in Elmhurst because they are not as attention grabbing as something to do with sports. For example, why is there no attention being given to the fact that there is only one chinese language teacher at York. Unless I am missing something here? The worlds biggest language mandarain chinese only has 1 teacher at our local high school? Let's put some specific attention to heightening the awareness of departments that need attention. Who advocates for the foreign language department and specifically for the one and only chinese language instructor??
SwimMom November 15, 2012 at 06:39 AM
To add to the above posting the girls' swim team coach was relieved of his duties by the administration (AD supported by the Principal and Superindentant). And while this is a personnel matter within the administration's purview, the administration would only say it was because the swim team "needed to take a new direction." Interestingly, when pressed, neither former AD Rutter nor Diana Smith couldn't articulate what the "new direction" is/was. Does anyone else see a problem here? Especially, when that team sent unprecedented numbers to state meet last year? The former coach continues in other positions at York, and there was never an accusation of malfeasance on this part. Shame on you York--aren't we looking for positive role models and ways to promote the school and student athletes by a coach that is beloved by students, former students and parents? And, while we all must endure a certain level of politics on the job, I find it extremely disheartening that my dautter (a furture York student) will suffer as a direct result of administration politics--on something as mundane as the swim team (but to my swimmer, this means the world). I challenge you all to question where we draw the line as parents and Elmhurst citizens who support District 205 through significant property taxes. If athletics can be tainted so easily, what's next? Honors biology? AP History? Reading remediation?
Steve November 15, 2012 at 10:10 AM
In All due respect, the Mayor should have been at City Hall that night to participate in the City of Elmhurst business and Not interject into District 205 business.
Bunky November 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Some people who remain anonymous b/c some may work in. the district. There is alot of fear in speaking out. If your name is found out...they make your life a living hell. I am a former employee and still have kids in the district and do not want them to pay for facts I have devulged. I think you, John and Lynn, would agree.
Melanie Watkins Gold November 15, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Regarding those that are staying anonymous I get it, I happen to be one of the few that doesn't care who knows how I feel. With all of that being said both of my girls a sophomore and senior were approached by a teacher (whom I like) to find out what my name was and was shown what I wrote yesterday! If he was looking I can promise you D. Smith is looking :)
Nooneuknow11 November 15, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Pete is still the mayor until December 6th. I hope he continues to fix the problems here in Elmhurst.
Lindsay M. November 15, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Agreed. This puts them all on the radar, why would they risk that for no reason?
Lindsay M. November 15, 2012 at 04:16 PM
To Parent of athlete and Chinese (which should be capitalized, by the way) language student: This is an article about an AD and the athletics at York, did you miss that?
Peggy Suratt November 15, 2012 at 08:49 PM
it's not clear from ms chadra's article whether the coaches letter was signed by 25 coaches or 25 head coaches; given that only 4 Head Coaches were standing at the podium, it's hard to know which is which ... perhaps she could clarify that. If it was signed by 25 Head Coaches, that's a pretty unanimous voice of support for rutter, and something that should make Pruneau shake his head.
Elm Forest November 15, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Thank you for clarifying your position based on your experience at York.
Steve November 16, 2012 at 03:24 AM
What problems did he fix during his tenure?
wandering November 17, 2012 at 03:39 PM
do you all know what issues you are addressing? maybe the coaches leaving is the result of addressing an issue - i don't know, but i'd put my money there before i would sling mud at the administration - what i experienced when my son was at york was a principal who stood up to the parents of athletes who wanted their children to get special treatment (i.e. to not be held to the same academic and behavioral standards as the other students) by holding them accountable for their behavior even when her actions were unpopular
wandering November 17, 2012 at 03:50 PM
well said -
Future Duke November 19, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Coach Lech didn't leave do to family reasons as a whole, just tired of all the promises that were not kept, under funding needed to run a quality and safe football program. The same can be said with all of the Athletic programs. If there is no money in the school budgets, then let the concerned parents and supporters raise funds for those programs. Just like every other school in our conferences do...its not rocket science.
Shane Dickinson December 04, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I know that I am late to this, but I want to say first that much of this is awful. Principal Smith is a phenomenal leader of York, who has been defending the rights of students since she came into the position. Without the direction of Ms.Smith, Yorks fine arts department would be on life support. She has stood up to calls for lessening the budget in areas that matter to the school. And the final result of her standing her ground and supporting the arts, numerous all state musicians and singers, as well as programs which are top in the state, such as Yorks top Band, Orchestra and Choir. Also, the top of the line Drama Department. If you take Ms.Smith out of York, you take the 5 star music programs, as well as the top of the line dramas which bring the school money and attention. Have a wider scope when you make such comments.

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