West Carroll board extends paid leave for superintendent amid controversy

Members plan to meet again to discuss Julie Katzenberger’s fate, possibly on Sunday

West Carroll Middle School, shown in a file photo from summer 2022, was the scene of a special board meeting on Wednesday.

MOUNT CARROLL – After an almost six-hour meeting, most of which was closed to the public, the West Carroll School District 314 board emerged Wednesday with no solution for what to do with Superintendent Julie Katzenberger.

Katzenberger, 51, was put on paid administrative leave March 23, the same day about half of the high school teachers failed to show up for work, prompting some school board members to monitor classrooms.

Two weeks earlier, the teachers union passed a vote of no confidence in the superintendent, West Carroll Education Association presidents Kris Yingling and Jeff Holley said in a news release.

That also was the day Jessica Love, the second high school principal this school year, resigned.

That special meeting was held Wednesday night at West Carroll Middle School in Mount Carroll and also was streamed online.

When the board came out of closed session, legally allowed because the seven members were discussing personnel matters, they voted to accept the resignations of Love and district secretary Deb Myers, and announced that for now, Katzenberger will remain on paid leave.

Board members plan to discuss the matter further at an upcoming meeting that’s yet to be scheduled, but perhaps will be held Sunday, it was announced after the votes.

“The West Carroll Education Association (WCEA) appreciates the Board of Education members listening to our concerns and taking them seriously,” Yingling and Holley said in a statement Thursday.

“We believe the board will strive over the next few days to find a solution that addresses the needs of all stakeholders, including students and staff.”

A West Carroll School District banner flutters in the breeze in this file photo from Aug. 16, 2022.

The original release from Yingling and Holley outlined staff complaints. The union said Katzenberger is not keeping parents in the loop about student issues and regularly rejects input from staff when it comes to addressing students and school issues.

We believe the board will strive over the next few days to find a solution that addresses the needs of all stakeholders, including students and staff.”

—  West Carroll Education Association Presidents Kris Yingling and Jeff Holley

The release also cited the loss of professional staff, support staff and building administrators due to “micromanaging and constant conflict with Katzenberger,” which it said shows the district is struggling to attract and retain top-quality educators.

Julie Katzenberger, superintendent at West Carroll School District.

In addition, teachers fear retaliation from Katzenberger for bringing up concerns at board meetings or to board members, according to the release.

Katzenberger has been superintendent since July 2018. Before that, she was the West Carroll Middle School principal for 10 years. She told the board earlier this year that she plans to retire at the end of the 2024-25 school year.

Emails seeking comment from Katzenberger and the board members have not been returned.

Have a Question about this article?
Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.