DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – “They knew all of our names. I trusted all three of these people at that school. They have always been there for me whenever I needed them,” one student said Monday.
That student also said without three former administrators, her Danville school won’t be the same. That’s why families gathered Monday night with the goal of saving Schlarman Academy.
Concerned parents organized a community forum and invited the diocese to be a part of the conversation. Two of the three former Schlarman Administrators spoke at Fischer Theater Monday. Mark Janesky and Mark Croy resigned last week, but not after Janesky says he personally felt “bullied and badgered” to do so.
Another administrator, Courtney Hemker, was fired last week. She didn’t speak at the forum, but her father did. He told the room he was “appalled” no leaders from the Diocese of Peoria showed up.
Although many spoke in support of Janesky, Croy and Hemker, there was disagreement over a student walkout that took place Wednesday. One parent said it wasn’t appropriate, but another said it was a way students could make their voices heard over the restructuring of Schlarman’s administration.
Croy and Janesky spoke about their love for students and wanting the best for them. Croy held a folder he says contained letters from several teachers who are willing to leave if the remaining administration doesn’t change.
“I cannot say enough about them, your kids. They are wonderful humans,” Croy said.
“We had four people in the room when we heard what was said and my jaw about hit the floor. I didn’t appreciate it. I thought it was very contemptuous,” Janesky said.
Janesky was referring to a tense meeting leading up to his resignation, during which he says a church official called him a “liar.” While some called for current principal Barbara Rew’s resignation, others spoke up in her defense and asked whether the community should instead help her. One staff member said the diocese is in the process of setting up another Q&A opportunity like the one that happened Monday.
Rew has not responded to our request for a comment. In an email to families Friday, the bishop of the Diocese of Peoria said Rew maintains the confidence and support of the Office of Catholic Schools.
We will bring you more updates as we get them.