Hate is the complement of fear and narcissists like being feared. It imbues them with an intoxicating sensation of omnipotence. ― Sam Vaknin
Before we move on to the professional failures that finally did Geneva District D304 Superintendent Kent Mutchler in, let’s put some closure on a couple of issues we discussed in part one.
As far as the four Mutchler children go, three moved out of that house as soon as they could, and with one exception, they refuse to return to Geneva even for the holidays. The younger daughter briefly came back last summer, but as she and her mother embraced in a tearful farewell, Kent completely ignored her.
He didn’t even say goodbye to her!
You see, those children are nothing more than trappings that come along with his position, so if they refuse to play the happy child they’re dead to him. It’s also important to note that, from her persistent depression right down to every aspect of her body language, from day one Mrs. Mutchler has displayed every symptom of an abused woman.
It can’t be easy to live with a raging narcissist.
Next, I want to thank the reader who caught this glaring omission. In part one I made it sound like the Superintendent’s departure was imminent, but he will remain in place until his contract expires in June of 2023. Sadly, that simply gives him another full school year to wreak his insidious brand of havoc and that persistent damage with a District culture based on bullying, fear, and intimidation.
The lucky lower-level employees – those who can’t do anything for him directly – are simply ignored. Kent won’t even acknowledge their presence in passing in the hallways. Conversely, the unlucky employees, primarily the assistant superintendents, know exactly what’s in store for them if they fail to amuse this Donald Trump wannabee.
They don’t dare make any decisions on their own and they have to constantly play to the Superintendents vast ego to survive. The best example of this dynamic is the revolving Communications Coordinator door. Most local district spokespersons have been around for years and they have frequently and freely discussed a plethora of issues with me.
But it seems the D304 position changes hands on a yearly basis, and on the rare occasion they actually do return a call or email, everything has to be cleared by Kent first. Put more simply, the District staff has had to endure 15 years of the kind of dysfunction that slowly saps the life out of you.
This dynamic is best exemplified in is this excellent expose the Chronicle ran on D304 Director of Operations Scott Ney. One staffer told that paper “the last four years under him were a living hell.” Despite 90 employees resigning or retiring under Ney’s reign of terror, not only did Mutchler fail to fire him, but he fully supported him after the news broke. So now the district’s facing a seven-figure lawsuit that will eventually be settled on the backs of the Geneva taxpayer.
It gets better!
In what can only be described as a rather bizarre irony, Mutchler detests teachers, too. Those legendary district office rants make it abundantly clear that he has absolutely no use for them. And it’s that blatant animosity that played a major role in making the December 2018 teacher’s strike far more contentious than it needed to be.
Oh! And Kent doesn’t just blow up in the office, either. While attending a Springfield superintendent’s conference, one of his peers made the mistake of mentioning a more equitable district tax dollar distribution and Kent blew his top in front of all of them. Shortly thereafter a local superintendent called to ask me “if this guy was for real?”
And that’s just one of many explosive examples.
So, what was the final straw? I can’t say for sure, but I knew the end was near when Kent almost went off on two high school students at a late April 2021 board meeting. The young women were telling the board about the lack of mask enforcement at the high school when he started gearing up to let them have it. But just as he was about to blow, former board member Leslie Juby stopped him dead in his tracks with a masked glare I’ll never forget.
Then she calmly and succinctly said, “We can all do better, right Kent?” Mutchler paused for a minute, considered resuming his rant, but when Juby repeated that line a second time, Mutchler backed down saying, “Yes. We can all do better.”
And it’s all on tape, too. A month or two after that exchange insiders told me his contract would not be renewed.
Kent Mutchler can’t even leave the District with some semblance of grace. In a final “fuck you” to the citizens of Geneva, he petulantly preempted his firing by submitting his resignation. But when he realized that move would mean forgoing 17 grand in bonus money, he did a swift about face claiming the word “resignation” was a clerical error – he meant to say “retirement.”
Yes! Because I frequently type the word “resignation” whenever I mean to type “retirement.
So, why was this poor excuse for a human being allowed to do his damndest to destroy the District for so long? Aside from that narcissist charm, I’m not sure. But I will place the blame for this soon-to-be 17-year debacle squarely at the feet of former Board Presidents Mary Stith, Dean Kilburg, and Mark Grosso who knew exactly what was happening, but chose to ignore it.
Considering their vast complicity in all this, if I believed in a Christian hell, I’m convinced there would be special place for each and every one of them. It will take years for D304 to recover from this man. Much like the Hippocratic variety, school board members should be required to take an oath that starts with, “First, do no harm.”
Lastly, aside from setting the record straight, what’s my point here?
In his “retirement” letter the Superintendent wrote, “I will soon be earning my National Superintendent Certification and will be pursuing other options in educational leadership.” Considering what I’ve borne witness to for 15 long years, those are some of the most terrifying words I’ve ever read.
This man should not be allowed to have a pet, much less impact children.
Throughout my time at the keyboard, after a Google search, a number of folks have reached out to ask me for more details on various column subjects. Sometimes it’s a positive process, but more often than not, they want to avoid making the mistakes so many others have made.
So, if you’re considering hiring Kent Mutchler and you just read these two columns, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’ll be more than happy to talk to you.