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Brown Deer superintendent's letter recommended business manager she tried to fire

Oct. 18, 2010

Brown Deer — After months of attempting to fire her school district's business manager, Brown Deer Superintendent Deborah Kerr wrote a letter to "enthusiastically recommend" his possible hiring by a Chicago-area school district.

The letter of recommendation, which was written in March and only recently released months after it was requested, praised business manager Edward Towle's leadership and communication skills as well as his proficiency in accounting and understanding of the state's funding system.

"Edward has had a great number of experiences in his 16 years in school business administration that have enabled him to grow as a professional," Kerr wrote. "That is something money simply cannot buy and will be an asset to a future employer."

Calling Towle's possible departure "regrettable," Kerr also referred to him as a "good steward of public funds" in the letter to Ellen Correll, superintendent of Community Consolidated School District 46 in Grayslake, Ill.

Kerr did not mention in the letter that Towle had been on paid leave for more than a year after she had discovered that district accounts were overdrawn several times or that she had attempted to have him fired after an audit raised questions about the department's management.

She has said that she wrote the letter to head off potential litigation and that Grayslake school officials never called her to ask about Towle.

School officials for the Grayslake district said they signed a contract with Towle based, in part, on Kerr's glowing letter. They later rescinded the contract after learning of his lengthy leave from the Brown Deer School District.

Towle has since sued the Brown Deer district for breach of contract and defamation stemming from his leave and comments that Kerr made about the reasons for his absence. While admitting that district accounts were overdrawn during his tenure, he has said many of Kerr's charges against him either were dropped or were insignificant.

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