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.