Friday, November 17th, 2023

Board agrees to accept Parkway coach's resignation

By Erin Gardner
ROCKFORD - Parkway school board members on Thursday night voted 4-0 to accept Jake Circle's resignation as a teaching aide, head varsity football coach and weight room coordinator.
Board president Deb Call was absent from the special meeting and did not return a call for comment. Circle also was not at the meeting.
Superintendent Jeanne Osterfeld said Circle submitted his resignation Wednesday, a day after she emailed him a notice of intention to consider termination.
She wrote that she intended to recommend the board terminate Circle for "dishonesty, drunkenness, insubordination, neglect of duty, falsification of sick leave and any other acts of… malfeasance."
Circle had been cited for multiple infractions during the eight months he was with the district, placed on an improvement plan on Aug. 3 and ultimately placed on an unpaid administrative leave of absence on Nov. 1.
In addition to being written up by school administrators for unprofessional behavior and failing to complete necessary paperwork, Circle was cited for operating a vehicle while impaired by Mercer County Sheriff's Office deputies on Oct. 31 in Mendon.
"In addition to violating specific terms of your improvement plan, your alcohol and tobacco-related misconduct has violated your position of trust as a positive role model for students, particularly with regard to your responsibility of presenting healthy lifestyles and attitude and demonstrating respect for the law," Osterfeld wrote in the notice. "Your conduct has affected your authority as a coach and professional employee to enforce provision of the athletic code of conduct, relevant student handbooks and other board directives."
Osterfeld said the district's investigation into Circle's conduct was "as complete as she can make it" because Circle did not meet with her to discuss the documented infractions.
The termination notice also alleges Circle used tobacco products in the presence of students at various times during the school year and on school grounds. On July 22, he consumed alcohol "while attending and supervising the senior trip," according to the notice.
"On Oct. 31, 2023, you did not report to work because of an alleged illness and you utilized sick leave to justify the absence," the notice continues. "However, despite taking a paid sick day, you appeared at school, entered the building and walked around the hallways for no work-related reason. There is evidence that the odor of alcohol was present."
When contacted by the newspaper after the meeting, Circle said he had made some mistakes but wants to get his job back.
"I believe our new school board in January will do the right thing," he said.
When pressed further, Circle said he intends to reapply at Parkway because he thinks he's the man for the job.
"I've never done anything wrong by the kids," he said.
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Board members during the special meeting also approved hiring Alicia Bruns as a teaching aide for the remainder of the school year effective Dec. 11 and Ed Kuhn as weight room coordinator for the 2023-2024 school year.
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