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URBANA — The Urbana school district has reclaimed another of its former employees who crossed Wright Street to work in Champaign's Unit 4.

A board vote Tuesday night signaled the return of Angi Franklin to the district where her career began in 2000, and the end of her current position as Unit 4's director of teaching, learning and student engagement.

Also joining new Superintendent Jennifer Ivory-Tatum's leadership team: Danville High School Principal Kimberly Norton, approved Tuesday as the district's assistant superintendent of student learning.

Franklin will assume Urbana's open position of assistant superintendent of human resources on July 1. Norton also officially begins that day.

"I'm so excited to be home," Franklin said. "I'm glad you approved me, because I'm already working."

Franklin taught choir at Urbana Middle School before switching to the same position at Champaign's Central High School in 2002.

She returned to Urbana in 2010 to serve as a dean of students at Urbana High before becoming assistant principal of Bottenfield Elementary in 2012 and principal of Jefferson Middle School in 2013.

An educator for 22 years, Norton held various positions with the Danville school district — including stints as the district's Title 1 curriculum coordinator, teaching language arts in North Ridge Middle School's gifted program and serving the same school as assistant principal — before assuming her current role in 2015.

"I'm looking forward to being part of such a collaborative team as we work with together to build a really positive culture and maximize student learning," she said.

Added Ivory-Tatum: "We're excited to have both of these strong women join our team."

The appointments of Franklin and Norton to the cabinet of Ivory-Tatum — whose career also spans both the Champaign and Urbana districts — marks another step toward permanently filling the district's top leadership positions, which have been held by interim staff since early December.

Former superintendent Don Owen and former assistant superintendent Kathy Barbour were placed on paid leave for violations of board directives. The district's other assistant superintendent, Samuel Byndom, had been placed on paid leave in late October for allegedly trying to record a closed board meeting.

All three tenured staffers have had the option to stay within the district as licensed teachers starting with the 2019-2020 school year.

District spokesperson Kameron Williams said the district gave Owen an assignment last month. He will be a teacher at the high school's "Restorative U" room, where students not suspended out-of-school may spend time instead.

Owen declined to offer any comment separate from a posting on his personal blog, where he lamented the denial of a "request for a public hearing regarding my non-renewal as superintendent.

"I wish that the larger Urbana community could have heard what was said behind closed doors," he wrote.

Williams confirmed that Owen requested a public hearing but said such a request would have violated both Owen's contract and the Illinois School Code, which "specifically provide that this meeting must happen in closed session, which was the process the school board followed."

In other personnel reassignments by the board, members voted to move Urbana High School Principal Deloris Brown from the administrative position she was hired for last year to a job as a literacy interventionist teacher come August. She was hired to replace outgoing Principal Matt Stark. And Associate Principal Jorge Elvir, also hired last year, was reassigned as a special education teacher for the high school.

In other news:

— The board approved 6-1 the use of an anonymous ethics and fraud hotline — provided by auditing and accounting firm BKD — called Integra Report, for $3,250 in the first contracted year and $2,500 for the following two years.

— A board vote formalized an agreement between the district and the Youth Assessment Center that will allow center case workers into the schools to serve "at risk" youth ages 10-17.

While interaction and referral with the center has been ongoing, the memorandum of understanding approved Tuesday will allow more "streamlined" communication between students, district staff, families and case managers, officials said.


Lyndsay Jones is a reporter covering education at The News-Gazette. Her email is ljones@news-gazette, and you can follow her on Twitter (@__lyndsayjones).