By Bob Skolnik
Lincoln Elementary School in Brookfield will have a new assistant principal this fall after the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education 4 to 3 to hire Beatriz Lappay on May 26.
Lappay, a former assistant principal at Unity Junior High School in Cicero, will replace Catherine Eichhammer, who was reassigned to a position as a social worker after serving as the assistant principal at Lincoln School for the past two years.
Before being transferred to Lincoln School in 2018, Eichhammer was an assistant principal at George Washington Middle School for more than a decade.
Lappay was the best candidate among the applicants for the position, said Lincoln School Principal Theresa Silva.
"She has a vast range of experience in bilingual education, special education and also administrative experience, and we thought that her combined knowledge and experience in these areas best suited the needs of our diverse school community," said Silva, who led the interview committee that recommended hiring Lappay.
Silva said that the interview committee consisted of herself, a few Lincoln teachers and staff members, and District 103 Human Resources Director Brian Towne. All interviews were conducted by Zoom, and Lappay was chosen from two finalists who had second interviews.
Voting against hiring Lappay was the familiar board minority bloc of Sharon Anderson, Marge Hubacek and Shannon Johnson.
They questioned why Lappay had moved around so much in her career. Lappay has worked for eight different school districts in the last 10 years.
"Thirteen positions since 2010 and most of those only lasted a year," Anderson said of Lappay's resume, which includes a couple summer school principal positions.
For the last two years Lappay, who could not be reached for comment, worked for Cicero School District 99.
In 2018-19 she was an assistant principal at Cicero West Elementary School, a pre-K through fourth-grade school. Last year, she was one of eight assistant principals at Unity Junior High, a massive school with about 2,500 students in Cicero. The school has a predominantly Hispanic student population and a large percentage of student from low-income families.
About 58.5 percent of Lincoln students are Hispanic and 70.4 percent are classified as low-income, according the most recent Illinois State School Report Card.
Lappay was headed out of District 99 even before being hired by District 103. The District 99 approved her resignation, effective June 30, along with a host of others, at its March 11 meeting.
Unity Junior High School principal Aldo Calderin did not respond to an emailed interview request.
Before coming to Cicero District 99, Lappay worked as long-term substitute special education teacher for a couple months in the spring of 2018 for Hawthorn District 73 in Vernon Hills.
She spent her longest time, nearly three years, working for the Acero Charter School Network in Chicago from August 2015 until January 2018. At Acero she worked for one year as a special education teacher and then was a case manager for 1.5 years.
District 103 Human Resources Director Brian Towne worked at Acero as the charter network's chief administrative officer/chief external affairs officer for a couple years after leaving the Cook County sheriff's office in 2014, but said that he didn't know Lappay there. Acero operates 15 schools and serves 8,000 students.
Lappay has also worked as a special education teacher in Villa Park, Bolingbrook, Elgin, Proviso West High School and Glenbard North High School.
Her frequent movement from district to district also concerned Hubacek during the May 26 school board meeting where Lappay was hired.
"It is really hard for me to believe that she was the best candidate," Hubacek said.
Lappay earned a bachelor's degree in art from Northern Illinois University in 2003. She has two master's degrees, one in special education from Lewis University in 2009 and another in school leadership that she earned from Concordia University in 2012.
She earned an endorsement in English as a Second Language and bilingual education from Illinois State University in 2014. She is now studying for a doctorate in education at National Louis University. On her LinkedIn page, Lappay describes herself as a relationship builder, dreamer, and advocate.
Lappay will be paid $83,000 in her new 10-month position at Lincoln, which begins in August.
According to a posting on the District 99 website, Lappay's salary was $65,902 last year.
Silva declined to comment when asked whether she had recommended that Eichhammer be reassigned. But, she said she is excited to welcome Lappay to Lincoln.
"We're excited to welcome her to the Lincoln community, and we're just excited to start a new year together, however that happens," Silva said.