Longtime Vermilion educator leading Schlarman after principal's abrupt firing

Longtime Vermilion educator leading Schlarman after principal's abrupt firing

DANVILLE — A longtime Vermilion County educator who started out teaching at the old St. Paul School is now leading Schlarman Academy in the wake of its principal's abrupt firing Sunday.

"Effective Monday, Sept. 24, Mrs. Gail Lewis will no longer serve in the role of principal at Schlarman Academy," officials with the Catholic Diocese of Peoria said in a four-sentence statement to all Schlarman families.

"Mr. Mark Janesky, assistant principal, has been named principal ... effective immediately," the statement continued. "The Office of Catholic Schools extends its appreciation to Mrs. Lewis for her years of service to the families and alumni of Schlarman Academy of Danville."

Sharon Weiss, the Peoria Diocese's superintendent of education, wasn't available for comment Monday, according to her secretary.

"There were no improprieties," Janesky said. "I think they just wanted to move in a new direction."

On Monday, Janesky — a 38-year educator who became Schlarman's assistant principal in July — said he had fielded a few phone calls from concerned parents of students and community members, but wasn't able to tell them anything more than what the statement said and assure them that it was business as usual at the pre-K-through-12 school, which has two campuses.

He planned to meet with teachers and other staff members later in the afternoon to introduce himself to those he hadn't met yet and discuss a number of issues, including school climate, finances and building needs.

"We've got an array of things to cover," Janesky said.

A Danville native who graduated from Danville High School in 1976, Janesky actually started out his career in 1980 as a junior high school science teacher at Schlarman's South Campus, then called St. Paul's School. He then left education to work in his family's business.

After 12 years, Janesky returned to education and served as dean of students at the old Rossville-Alvin High School for three years, then as principal of Rossville-Alvin Elementary School for seven years and superintendent of Jamaica schools for 7 1/2 years. He served as Vermilion County's assistant regional superintendent of schools from November 2011 until July.

Janesky said he planned to return to Schlarman as a teacher but was asked this summer to serve as assistant principal instead. He said he didn't know how long his tenure as principal will last.

Lewis, also a Danville native, graduated from Schlarman in 1994 and was hired as principal in June 2013. Prior to becoming an administrator, she worked in the Danville school district for more than 15 years as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher at Cannon Elementary and a kindergarten teacher and data and instructional facilitator at Meade Park Elementary.

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