Dear Polk County Public Schools,
When I was a graduate of your schools you told me I could be anything I wanted to be. Now I am a radio host and opinion writer and I have questions.
Currently, Polk County Public Schools’ new Senior Director for Digital Learning Lindsay Sharp’s integrity is being challenged by several families in Illinois for “willful and wanton” hiring and supervision practices of convicted serial child abuser Carlos Bedoya, her former employee of Golfview Elementary School, for which she served as principal. The lawsuits have been ongoing since 2018. They have been widely reported by major media across the country and name the Illinois District 300 as a defendant as well. The criminal abuse and lawsuits relate to matters that took place while Polk Superintendent Fred Heid was superintendent of District 300. Heid has since joined Polk Schools for about a year and Sharp has now joined him here. Two weeks ago, I brought Heid’s hiring of his former employee Sharp during unsettled lawsuits of serious allegations to light and instead of addressing the fundamental questions asked, Polk District responded with unprofessional smears, diversions, and deflections unrelated to my article.
I assume Lindsay Sharp is innocent of the allegations in the unsettled Illinois families’ lawsuits against her. Nevertheless, why would you hire someone named in serious unsettled lawsuits alleging “willful and wanton” hiring and supervision of a serial child abuser to oversee Polk children’s digital education? Why would you not wait until the cases are dismissed?
According to the Daily Herald, the lawsuits by the victims of Bedoya allege Lindsay Sharp and Polk Superintendent Fred Heid’s former school district Community District 300 did not do proper background checks for Bedoya; that Bedoya lacked a valid ID and passport, and had an outstanding warrant while he had access to children in various employment roles at the school; and that children were moved out of classes when they complained of his abusive behavior. May the children who have already suffered immeasurable harm have their day in court before Polk County Public Schools hires individuals accused in their suits?
Would a teacher be hired by Polk County Public Schools with such serious lawsuits unresolved? If a teacher would not be hired with such ongoing legal matters unresolved, why would a senior official be?
Is it the position of Polk County Public Schools that Polk taxpayers and media have no right to ask the Polk County School Board why they would hire a former employee of Heid while she is named in active lawsuits alleging serious misconduct during his tenure at that former school district?
Is it the position of Polk County Public Schools that any citizen or member of the media that asks these questions is making an “unethical” and “political” point as they smeared me because of my original article?
Is it the position of Polk County Public Schools that the Fox 32 Chicago, Daily Herald, Chicago Tribune news reports of which my article was based reported the facts of the lawsuits because of political motive against Polk County Public Schools?
Is it the position of the Polk County School Board that the many children and families from Superintendent Heid’s former District in Illinois should not be granted their day in court before hiring Heid’s former employee named as a defendant in their lawsuits to direct the digital learning of Polk’s children?
Should the victims of the serially convicted child abuser Bedoya not be given their day in court before hiring the defendant in their lawsuits to oversee digital learning in Polk County?
If the families suing Heid’s former school district and his former and now current employee Lindsay Sharp are to prevail in their claims of “willful and wanton” hiring and supervision practices of Bedoya, how would that ruling reflect on the judgment of Polk County Public Schools as Sharp now oversees the digital learning for its 110,000+ students?
According to The Ledger, “The district said Heid had ‘no involvement’ in the hiring of Sharp and did not learn of her application until she was a finalist.” What are the odds that Heid and Sharp worked together in Illinois’s District 300 for several years, where they both are mentioned in extensive media coverage of the Bedoya case, as well as Duval County Public Schools, but Heid had “no involvement” in her hiring for Polk Schools?
On the Polk School District website, a June 14, 2022 New District Administrator Announcement says, “Superintendent Frederick Heid is pleased to recommend the appointment of Lindsay Sharp, Senior Director, Digital Learning and Innovation.” Is that involvement or “no involvement” in the hiring of Sharp?
The Ledger article goes on to state Polk County Public Schools position, “No one involved in Sharp’s hiring knew that she was a defendant in the Illinois civil lawsuit, the email said.” This goes back to the original question I asked in my article: did Polk Schools know about the ongoing lawsuits when they considered this hire? It was the 2nd search result when I googled “Lindsay Sharp Polk.” Why is Polk County Public Schools saying no one knew of the many news reports mentioning her and Heid in these ongoing stories? Why wouldn’t they look it up since it’s all over the media?
The Ledger story continues, “Upon learning that Sharp was a finalist for the position, Heid did not share details of her connection to the Illinois civil lawsuit, the district staff said.” Why would Heid not share the details of his and her connection to the Illinois Bedoya lawsuits? It is covered extensively in the press and an ongoing matter. The suits involve a horrific child abuser that brought national attention. Should not the pending suits be a valid factor in determining who will oversee the digital learning of Polk students? Would it be wise to at least wait until the lawsuits are dismissed?
More from the Polk District response via the Ledger, “More than a year had passed since Heid left District 300, and he wasn’t familiar with the status of the suit, the email said.”
Why would Heid not be up-to-date with multiple families’ lawsuits regarding a serious criminal serial child abuser that took place during his tenure as Superintendent? Bedoya just received another 66 year sentence in October 2021 for more assaults, that is less than a year ago. This is in addition to the 112 year sentence Bedoya received for other abuses in Heid and Sharp’s former district—this is a major deal. Why would Heid not stay informed of the matter involving former students? Why would Heid not look to see if the case was dismissed before “recommending” the hiring of Sharp?
Polk County Public Schools, you ask children to do their homework. Did you do yours?
Is it the position of the Polk County Public Schools that I as a member of the press, citizen and graduate of Polk County Public Schools am not allowed to ask such public interest questions?
Is not the Polk County School Board the manager of Superintendent Heid?
Who is the manager of the Polk County School Board?
Am I not as a citizen of Polk County a part of the management of the Polk County School Board?
Is it appropriate to speak to your manager, We the People, in the way in which you have done, Polk County Public Schools?
Victims of childhood sexual assault take lawful allegations surrounding serial abuse serious. The victims of Bedoya already sent him to prison for the rest of his life for his predation in Heid and Sharp’s former district. They deserve to have their day in court for their further civil allegations before Polk citizens are told to move along.
Polk County Superintendent Heid and members of the Polk School Board are welcome to come on my news program A Neighbor’s Choice on NewsTalk WHBO 1040 AM to answer these questions.