West Carroll adds interim administrator to handle personnel issues

Superintendent taken off leave; assistant superintendent will report directly to the board

Julie Katzenberger, superintendent at West Carroll School District.

MOUNT CARROLL – The embattled West Carroll superintendent is back on the job, but with fewer duties.

The West Carroll School District 314 board voted Sunday to reinstate Superintendent Julie Katzenberger and to hire former Stockton Superintendent David Gilliland as interim assistant superintendent of human resources and student discipline.

Julie Katzenberger, superintendent at West Carroll School District.

As such, Gilliland, 65, a Mount Carroll native now living in Stockton, will report directly to the board, not to Katzenberger.

A call to Gilliland on Tuesday afternoon seeking an outline of his duties was not returned by deadline. Only one school board member returned emails seeking comment and that person declined to speak on the record.

Board members agreed Wednesday to reevaluate their decision before the next school year begins.

The decision came after a nearly 6-hour closed meeting Wednesday, held after Katzenberger, 51, was put on paid administrative leave March 23, the same day Principal Jessica Love resigned, and about half of the high school teachers failed to show up for work.

The walkout was in protest of Katzenberger’s management style and to try to force the board to act on ongoing staff complaints, the union said.

When no decision was made, the board agreed to meet again Sunday night at the district office.

West Carroll Education Association presidents Kris Yingling and Jeff Holley issued a statement Monday:

“We are glad the school board has committed to addressing the concerns the West Carroll Education Association raised regarding Superintendent Katzenberger. The school board heard our statements, understood our concerns and realized that they were legitimate.

“The decision to add an assistant superintendent for the rest of this school year and pledging to reevaluate the situation for next year is a step in the right direction.

“We look forward to working with the new assistant superintendent and the board to continue to ensure the best education possible for all of our students.”

Gilliland, a 1976 Mount Carroll High School graduate, was the Stockton Community Unit School District 206 superintendent in nearby Jo Daviess County for 10 years, the last three in a part-time capacity, retiring in May 2018.

He also served as principal at the elementary and high schools.

Gilliland helped launch the district’s education foundation, and was named by the Illinois High School Association as the Illinois Official of the Year in Boys Basketball in February 2022. He’s been a referee since 1978.

It’s been about a month since the teachers union passed a vote of no confidence in Katzenberger. In a previous statement, 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.

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

Teachers also 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.

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.