Evanston Township High School’s director of special education will be dismissed at the end of the academic year because she violated school board policy in the hiring process for new employees, secretly recorded an investigative interview with a human resources official and later altered a transcript of that interview, according to internal school emails and an ETHS investigation, obtained by the RoundTable through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Diona Lewis, who has worked for ETHS since 2020, was on paid administrative leave from Oct. 3 through mid-February and is currently working remotely.

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Scott Bramley received allegations about Lewis’ conduct last Sept. 29, according to school district documents. Bramley and school board attorney Jennifer Dunn interviewed Lewis regarding those allegations on Oct. 3.

ETHS District 202 put Lewis on leave after that interview and completed its investigation on Feb. 16, more than four months later. Based on the heavily redacted investigation obtained by the RoundTable, Lewis broke board policy in her interviews with and hiring of new employees.

“Your actions during the pre-employment interview and hiring process [redacted] demonstrate poor, questionable judgment and lack the integrity and responsibility expected of a District administrator,” Bramley wrote in a Feb. 16 letter to Lewis.

ETHS Director of Special Education Diona Lewis
ETHS Director of Special Education Diona Lewis Credit: Evanston Township High School

Bramley’s letter also said that Lewis allegedly told her own department’s hiring committee to exclude certain questions in an interview with a prospective employee.

Additionally, Lewis secretly recorded her human resources interview with Bramley and Dunn on Oct. 3 and created a written transcript of that conversation without permission, according to Bramley’s Feb. 16 letter.

“You continued to access and modify the document containing the verbatim written transcript of the October 3, 2022 meeting that you had surreptitiously recorded, in violation of the District’s acceptable use of technology policy,” Bramley wrote. “Additionally, the District’s investigation revealed that several documents you created and maintained in your District Google drive were linked to your private email accounts, allowing you continued unauthorized access while you were on paid administrative leave.”

At its Feb. 21 meeting, the school board unanimously voted to dismiss Lewis at the end of the current school year and not renew her contract for next year.

Since the human resources department finished its investigation, Lewis has been “assigned as an administrator on special assignment,” exclusively working remotely and reporting directly to Superintendent Marcus Campbell for the remainder of the year. She is now only allowed on site at ETHS if Campbell specifically requests an in-person meeting.

During the 2021 Fiscal Year, Lewis received a base salary of $167,000, according to the district’s compensation report. Her salary and benefits will remain unchanged while she works remotely on special assignment this spring, Bramley wrote.

She joined ETHS in 2020 after eight years as an assistant principal in District 65.

The RoundTable could not reach Lewis for comment, and a spokesperson for ETHS did not immediately respond to questions and requests for more information on Tuesday afternoon. (Update: Lewis reached out to the RoundTable after this article was posted. Read that story here.)

Former Assistant Director of Special Education Amy Verbrick has served as the acting director of special education since Lewis went on leave in October, according to the emails obtained by the RoundTable.

The unedited response to the RoundTable’s FOIA request is attached below.

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Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...

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    1. Yes, the irony of being paid (rewarded) with taxpayer money for doing virtually nothing (no pun intended) after have committed policy violations.