Rockford Area
Home Up Boone County

 

 

 

CONTENTS ON THIS PAGE:

bullet For information on the Rockford area Victim Advocate and Homicide Support Group and their meetings, see below.  Meetings to continue, despite Carol's murder!
 
bulletWNTA in Rockford - Morning Radio Talk show - covers IllinoisVictims.Org and our defeat of HB 45 - First Radio Station in the state to give our issues regular coverage. . .Hooray for media that cares about crime victims!
 
bullet Rockford Area Homicide Support Group Member and Hero is herself murdered allegedly by her husband, finally apprehended in Northern Wisconsin
bullet Victims and Advocates in Rockford Mourn the Death of Rev. Kerr - one of Illinois' greatest friend to victims in Need
 
bullet Our Illinois Victims' Hero Award was presented April 23, 2008 and the Rockford Area recipient could not be more deserving - read some testimonials and see media coverage
 
bulletParole Block efforts against the murderer of Sheriff's Detective Michael Mayborne - Hearing Spring 2008 - the last few years the vote was close. Only the pleading voices of loved family members left behind and heroic law enforcement brethren stopped it last year. Help keep cop-killers serving the life sentences they received. See incredibly moving video on YouTube of his life and the fight to keep his killer in prison
 
bulletIn June, Simon Peter Nelson, who committed one of the most horrific crimes in Rockford area history, will be up for parole.  Read about what you can do here at the Rockford Register Star's website.
 
bullet Parole Block efforts against the murderer of Louise Betts - Boone County - hearing Feb 2008 - excellent coverage from the Rockford Register Star - NEWS FLASH - PAROLE DENIED!!
 
bulletParole Block efforts against the murderer of Joey Didier - Hearing Jan 2008 -  PAROLE DENIED 11-0! Joey's mother died fighting the killer's release. Help their family continue the fight. The Rockford Register Star is on the case!
 
bullet Controversy about a high school diploma being denied a Rockford area murder victim

WNTA Rockford News Talk Station 1330 AM
Becomes First Radio Station in the State to Give Regular Coverage of Crime Victims Concerns
http://wnta.com/

Check out our favorite radio station in the state! They are giving regular coverage to our legislative concerns, to discussing and advancing the importance of concerns of crime victims. THANK YOU for the dedication that goes above and beyond ratings and actually works to help those in their community that have been hurt, and who need help and support.

Homicide survivor support group co-founder becomes homicide victim herself

Rockford Police are looking for a man who allegedly killed his wife Monday morning. ALERT!!! KILLER STILL ON THE LOOSE
http://www.wrex.com/global/story.asp?s=10612577

Find more items like this at http://www.wrex.com (ED NOTE - once again the Rockford area news media covers victims issues like NO one else in the state!)

From IllinoisVictims.Org President:

Friends,
 
It is with a heavy heart that I notify you of one of our Rockford Homicide Support Group founders death.
 
Carol McFaggen was found in her home today at 9:30am deceased.  Police are conducting this as a homicide investigation and are looking for her husband Thomas.
 
Our prayers and condolences go out the family and especially Barb Stone and Gerri Flynn who have worked so hard with Carol since the founding in 2004 of this wonderful support group.
 
Our hearts also are with all those who she has touched with her gently caring compassion.
 
Terry Mayborne

Funeral home contact: www.fitzgeraldfuneralhome.com

KILLER FINALLY APPREHENDED:

Rockford murder suspect found in Northern Wisconsin

More than 2 days after police say he murdered his wife, Wisconsin investigators arrest a Rockford man.
http://www.wrex.com/global/story.asp?s=10630321

Husband sought in school staffer’s slaying

bullet Photos
Thomas C. McFeggan
More related photos
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RRSTAR.COM STAFF REPORTS
Posted Jun 29, 2009 @ 12:54 PM
Last update Jun 29, 2009 @ 05:33 PM
ROCKFORD —
Rockford police are looking for the husband of a Rockford woman who was discovered shot to death in her home this morning.
Police have identified the victim as Carol P. McFeggan, 62. A warrant has been issued for the arrest of Thomas F. McFeggan, 65, who is charged with first-degree murder. Carol McFeggan worked as a secretary at Auburn High School.

Police officers responded to the 1800 block of Wedel Avenue at 9:30 a.m. for a medical call.
Upon arrival, officers learned that a woman was possibly shot inside the residence. McFeggan’s daughter let police inside, saying she received information that her mother had been injured and went to check on her welfare.
Rockford police detectives, the Winnebago County coroner’s office and the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office responded to the scene.
Bond for McFeggan has been set at $1 million. Police said he may be driving a 2002 white two-door Chevy Cavalier, Illinois license plate number 269 5502.
Carol McFeggan was a 2009 nominee for Those Who Excel, an expansion of the Illinois Teacher of the Year Award. The program honors people in schools who have made outstanding contributions to the educational community.
In September 2004, she started the Homicide Survivors’ Support Group in response to the death of her brother, Craig E. Peterson, 50, of Rockford, in a collision with an unlicensed driver in November 2002. 

AND THIS ARTICLE:
http://mystateline.com/content/fulltext_news?cid=79431&shr=addthis

McFeggan's homicide survivor group will continue

The homicide survivor's support group started by a woman murdered in Rockford Monday will continue.
http://www.wrex.com/global/story.asp?s=10620184

From WIFR:

Auburn Community Mourns Secretary's Death Save EmailPosted: 3:14 PM Jun 30, 2009 Last Updated: 3:14 PM Jun 30, 2009 Reporter: Tina Stein "She made your day a little brighter when you saw her." "She was the kindest gentlest person you'd ever want to meet." For most who knew her, Carol McFeggan's first impression, turned out to be a lasting one. "She would give you inspiration." Nothing holds more true for Derrick Seago who credits the slain secretary for his success. "She would inspire you and say yes I can do it when other people are downgrading you and she was one of those people that would put her last ten cents in a jar to help some kids out," he says. Since McFeggan impacted so many lives, grief counselors were at Auburn High School Tuesday offering support. There visitors could also share memories in an area now deemed "Carol's Corner." "Many students will remember that favorite teacher or that coach and when you have students that have graduated and will write on the wall that it wasn't for that secretary I may not have graduated or what that meant to their high school experience and that says a lot," says Auburn Principal Dr. Richard Jancek. Jessica Brooks-Ausler adds to this parking lot memorial. She worked closely with McFeggan while serving on student congress. "It gets stressful when you're trying to get through high school and it's just nice to have one person who's happy and bright and makes you feel better," she says. "She had such a welcoming smile she greeted everyone with hi, you're welcome here, how can I help you," says Sara Jones who works in Human Resources for Rockford Public Schools. Simple words, that meant so much to the Auburn Community. There is also a memorial set up in the main office where McFeggan worked. On her desk there sits a family photo with her, daughter Sarah and husband Thomas. Jancek says he's unsure how long "Carol's Corner" will remain up. No word on when the school district will begin its search for her replacement.

VIDEO FOOTAGE at http://www.wifr.com/home/headlines/49550592.html


Didier family works to keep killer jailed

PAROLE IS DENIED - Feb 2008 - Vote is 11-0 to deny parole!! Read the coverage:

http://www.rrstar.com/news/x2031289963

Read Rockford Register Star Coverage
http://www.rrstar.com/news/x118356311

There is also a link for people to sign an on line petition at www.rrstar.com or print out . The killer comes up for parole in January 2008 and letters are welcome. At the paper's website do a search for the names Joey Didier, the victim, or Curtis Brownell, the killer, and there are many articles on the case.

We were shocked to hear that the hearing officer for the Prisoner Review Board, Madison, who is to be the expert on the case and make recommendations to the full board regarding the release of the convicted killers, at this year's (2008) hearing did not even know the name of the victim, Joey Didier!

 http://www.rrstar.com/homepage/x1295929488
Protesters demand that Didier's killer remain jailed
Jan 08, 2008 @ 12:39 PM
By Sadie Gurman
RRSTAR.COM
DIXON -
Friends and relatives of slain newspaper carrier Joey Didier, who have been fighting to keep his killer behind bars, brought their fight today to the Dixon Correctional Center.

They told Prisoner Review Board member Jesse Madison they want Robert Lower, who has spent 32 years behind bars, to stay there.

“Please do not let this happen again,” Didier’s sister, Diane Didier-Adolphson said, referring to the 1975 kidnapping, rape and murder of her 15-year-old brother. “(Lower) is still a danger to society.”

Those protesting Lower’s 17th chance at parole had a chance to talk to Madison, one of the Review Board’s 14 members, before Lower’s future is determined this month.

Lower abducted Dider while Didier was delivering papers the morning of March 4, 1975.

He drove the boy to a remote cabin in Jo Daviess County, where he sexually assaulted him, threw a noose around his neck, tossed the rope over a rafter, and as Didier pleaded for his life, hanged him.

Killer deserves to stay behind bars for rest of his days
http://www.rrstar.com/opinions/x805321809

 

Sad News from the Rockford Register Star: Sue Didier, mother of murder victim, dies. Every year she had to fight to keep her son's killer behind bars
Nov 01, 2007 @ 01:16 AM
By Bridget Tharp
RRSTAR.COM
ROCKFORD -
Rosemary “Sue” Didier, mother of a teen murdered in 1975 and wife of a former alderman, has died.

Didier, 83, died early Wednesday at Provena St. Anne Center, where she was recuperating from gastrointestinal surgery. Arrangements are pending at the Riverside Chapel of Fitzgerald Funeral Home and Crematory, 3910 N. Rockton Ave.

Sue, a mother of six and grandmother of eight, has petitioned for decades to keep the convicted killer of her 15-year-old son, Joey, behind bars.

Joey vanished on March 4, 1975, after delivering newspapers to only three customers on his route. His body was found 11 days later in a cabin in Jo Daviess County, where he had been raped and strangled to death.

“It was terrible for the community. I was just about Joey’s age when it happened, so I can remember the impact it had on kids my age,” former Rockford Mayor Doug Scott said. He helped the Didier family deliver petitions during his time in the House of Representatives. “For quite a period of time, (Rockford) was in a state of fear.”

Robert Lower, then 36, was convicted and sentenced to 100 to 150 years in prison. He had previously served seven for molesting an 11-year-old boy from Freeport.

Letters notifying the family of Lower’s parole hearings became an unfortunate holiday tradition.

Her daughter, Diane Didier-Adolphson, 55, said she always expected the notice between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Lower became eligible for parole in 1984 and has been turned down 14 times. Before every hearing, the family would circulate petitions opposing his release.

Sue led the petition drive since her husband, former Rockford alderman and florist George Didier, died in 1999.

Family members say the petition drive won’t end with her death. Lower, now 69, is scheduled to have another parole hearing at the Big Muddy Correctional Center at 9 a.m. on Jan. 22, 2008.

“We have to protect our natural resources, which are our children, and my parents really believed in that,” Diane said. “If he struck once, he’ll strike again.”

Sue was overwhelmed and moved by the community’s support after Joey’s death, family members say.

“Lines around the block for Joey’s funeral,” Sue’s son-in-law, Paul Elmer, said. “People that were total strangers would come to the house with casserole dishes. We had police officers practically living in the basement to monitor calls that came in. ... A lot of things that happened were pretty heartwarming.”

Elmer, now 51, has been close to the Didier family since he was a 17-year-old member of the Winnebago County chapter of the Young Democrats. The Didiers held meetings at their home.

“Mrs. Didier and I would get to talking,” he said. “And we would stay up until one, two o’clock talking politics. And my future father-in-law would wake up and yell, ‘Elmer, go home.’ ”

Elmer — who married the youngest daughter, Susanne — has always thought of his mother-in-law as “the power behind the politician.” Sue helped her husband during his political career and Elmer with his runs for office for the Rockford City Council in 2001 and Winnebago County Board in 2002.

Sue was also active with Catholic Charities, the ladies’ auxiliary of the Knights of Columbus, and her church, St. Bernadette’s. For years she organized a Christmas party for needy children.

“She was not only a wonderful mother but she went outside herself to find hope and courage and strength,” Diane said.

Staff writer Bridget Tharp may be reached at 815-987-1354 or btharp@rrstar.com.
 

AND ANOTHER STORY . . .

Didier Family: More to Mom Sue Than Keeping Murderer Locked Up

By Eric Wilson
13 News

ROCKFORD - A Rockford woman, known for her crusade to keep her son's killer in jail, is dead. But the Didier family wants people to know that there was more to their mom, Sue, than her mission to keep a murderer locked up. Her son George says, "She was involved in the parish. She was involved in the 9th Ward. So many areas she was involved in. And if she could make someone happy and give something to someone else, that really, I think, made her happy. She had an exquisite empathy for people."

That's how Sue Didier's kids remember her. But one of them isn't around to mourn the loss of his mom. That's Joey. Robert Lower murdered him back in 1975 when Joey was 15. Many people in the community remember her effort every few years, gathering thousands of signatures on petitions to let the parole board know, Lower doesn't deserve to get out. Sue's daughter Diane says, "Too bad it has to be that way, because even myself as his sister I was only 23 when it happened, but, sometimes I still have nightmares at night thinking of how evil this man was to my brother."

But the Didier family says that effort shouldn't define Sue. She was active in politics and seemed to know everyone in town. "We always had social events or political parties. She loved putting on parties," says daughter Sue. Daughter Marianne says, "Having a large family and all the aunts and uncles and cousins and everybody. She just embraced life." And son Dan says, "I think mom gained more out of giving to others. She got more of a joy out of that and seeing someone else happy, putting a smile on their face, making their day."

Sue died early Wednesday morning at the age of 83. There's a visitation Sunday at Fitzgerald Funeral Home in Rockford on Rockton Avenue from 2 to 4 in the afternoon. Monday, there's another visitation at St. Bernadette's. That starts at 10 in the morning with a service afterwards at 11.

The Didier's expect the parole board will send them a reminder in the next couple of weeks that Robert Lower's up for parole again this January. Watch for petitions to circulate not long after the letter comes.



Updated: November 2, 2007, 6:21 pm

The Mike Mayborne Case and the parole block efforts against Bacino

It starts again - May 13, 2008: To see the full page on most recent information on the Illinois Prisoner Review Board's consideration of parole for Theodore Bacino, murderer of Rockford area police detective Michael Mayborne, click here.

The annual consideration of the release of Theodore Bacino by the Illinois Prisoner Review Board is one of the most important victim issues that Rockford area victim activists have been working on. The link to all this information, action steps, updates, and petitions in that case, and in support of the family of murdered police detective Michael Mayborne, is at that link above. The family is forced to travel to the prison town instead of testifying closer to home.

READ a Press Release by State Representative Jim Sacia, always a friendly vote on any issues of victims rights, about the impact this case has on his life and career and the legislation that he is supporting for victims families - and click here to read his letter to the PRB opposing the release of Mike Mayborne's killer.

Rockford School Superintendent Denies Diploma to Murdered High School Student

We were shocked to learn that a high school student who had completed all his credits for graduation, according to the school board vote and the first calculations by teachers, and who was murdered only days before he was to graduate and receive his diploma, is reportedly being denied his diploma by the Rockford School Superintendent.

The victim's mother had asked that she be allowed to receive his diploma, in his place at the ceremony. She was denied that opportunity, though the students and many members of the school board and community supported her. The whole sad chapter cast a pall over the graduation ceremony, which could have instead been a healing event for all involved, if the Superintendent had handled the matter in a wiser manner.

While the facts of the case are still being investigated, all involved are still legally innocent. And no matter the final outcome, Bradley Berogan did have passing grades and adequate credits when he was shot and killed, and should receive his diploma posthumously.

We are reminded of the healing and poignant gesture taken by the administration of Virginia Tech University, in an announcement that brought tears to the eyes of millions all over a wounded nation, that each shooting victim would receive their degree at the date and time originally planned for, thus allowing the graduating classes of each of the next several years to carry on the memory of their lost classmates. What a lovely way to respond to such a tragedy.

On a smaller scale, but just as poignant to the classmates of Bradley Bergogan, who have been also traumatized by this turn of events, the Rockford Superintendent has missed a teachable moment for all under his care in that school system and the larger community. He could have chosen to make this a "no-brainer" decision, just weeks after the Virginia Tech tragedy set the national tone for how to respond to awful events that rip into human lives, quickly, compassionately, and generously. He could have taken the high road. He could have been seen as a role model to all the students and community members, leading a wounded community into a unified drawing closer together to hang tight to each other during a most difficult time.

Instead he has chosen to fight a loyal employee of his district, the boy's grieving mother. He has chosen to fight victim advocates. He has chosen to fight his own school board. And it is clear that he has made not only a hurtful decision that has made a bad situation much worse, but he has also made a huge public relations blunder.

And no matter what the concerns are with the facts of the murder that have prompted Dr. Thompson's reticence, these are the facts as we know them now:

1. There is a dead young man who was about to reach the milestone of his life with his friends, graduation from high school. He was killed. No one deserves to be murdered, no matter what the problems that might have surrounded the incident.

2. School Board members have examined the case and determined that he has earned the credits and met the requirements of his diploma. They voted so in a majority vote after talking to Bradley's teachers.

3. Allowing a family member to receive the diploma in his place is a positive gesture, as well as a legal right, that would help students and district employees and the whole community to move toward healing and lay down life lessons that would have served as a guide for a lifetime for all involved.

4. Instead, this molehill has been made into a mountain, victims family members and students are horribly re-traumatized, and the school has leapt into a ridiculous controversy.  

5. Galesburg Illinois schools were recently under national media scrutiny for their decision to withhold diplomas from 5 students whose family cheered for them during graduation ceremonies. Then under tremendous pressure from all over the nation with people pointing out to the Superintendent and the School Board that you do not punish students for something that is beyond their control, they rescinded their decision and said it was time to heal the community and grant the diplomas that the students had earned. And they promised to review their policy. We urge Dr. Thompson to take a lesson from this incident in Galesburg. The reason for Bradley's family to request this is even far more understandable - their son has been murdered. We suggest that Dr. Thompson make a phone call to the Galesburg schools and talk to them about how to manage a controversy.

We urge Dr. Thompson to take steps immediately to heal this broken situation by awarding the diploma, meeting with the victim's mother, and addressing letters to the graduated classmates of Bradley's with a message that turns all of this into the life lesson that we hope it still can be.  We urge the public to write to Dr. Thompson at this email address from the District Website  or call or write to Dr. Dennis Thompson, Superintendent of Rockford Schools at

Administration Building
201 South Madison Street (815) 966-3000
Superintendent
Dr. Dennis Thompson - Room 406 - 966-3101

Here are EMAIL ADDRESSES for the Superintendent's office staff:

Dianne Mulligan - mulligd@rps205.com
Dr. Thompson - thompsd@rps205.com

 

MURDER VICTIM DENIED DIPLOMA

Many demonstrators stood up for the grieving Berogan family and their request that their murdered son receive the high school diploma he earned. The peaceful demonstration received widespread media coverage. The media coverage of the controversy demonstrates clearly that the School Board and the Superintendent have created a very negative and as yet unresolved situation.

We have heard recently that the Superintendent is job searching in other states. We are hopeful in this news. If he does go to another school district we hope that the Rockford School Board will learn from this whole experience what qualities are best sought in a Superintendent. We hope that any new district that he might come to work for will discuss these issues thoroughly with him in advance to prevent him from going on any more personal agenda campaigns that hurt the school district as this one did.

Click here for local news stories in the Berogan diploma controversy and now the Rockford Register Star has editorialized about the problems this issue represents about the school board and Superintendent Thompson's "autocratic style".

To print up a downloadable PDF file PETITION in support of Bradley Berogan's diploma click here.

To contact via E-mail a Rockford area representative of IllinoisVictims.org, and to SIGN AN ON-LINE PETITION in support of Bradley Berogan's Diploma, please click here.

WE HAD TO SEE THE DOCUMENTATION TO BELIEVE IT - the Rockford School Superintendent, Dr.  Dennis Thompson, had ordered his teachers to calculate the final grades of murder victim Bradley Berogan to be based on what his grades would have been if he had finished the school year, instead of what they were at the time he was murdered.

Not only do we believe this move on Dr. Thompson's part to be a violation of victims' rights, but likely legally challengeable, certainly unethical, and extremely unwise from a public relations standpoint. Worst of all, this whole mess has been deeply damaging to the family and other classmates of young Mr. Berogan, who have been traumatized by not only his death but the ridiculous controversy that Dr. Thompson created in its wake.

The old expression "pick your battles" should provide food for thought here. We think this was the wrong battle for Dr. Thompson to pick. His actions have made the whole matter worse, not better. We think the job of a school superintendent includes handling crises in his schools in such a way as all are protected from further re-traumatization, and as a leader, he should seek to help everyone for the best possible outcome.

See details below and where to write and call in support of the victim's family.

IllinoisVictims.org is supporting a petition drive for a reversal of Dr. Thompson's decision. If he refuses, we believe the school board should seek his termination as Rockford Schools Superintendent, not simply because he has failed to award the diploma, but because of his "autocratic style" (Rockford Register Star editorial). If the school board members fail to act, we have no doubt that this event will have on-going impact into the next school board elections. Already over 600 students have signed petitions in just 6 hours of circulation.

See below for more information and to take action.

 

 

An OPEN LETTER from members of IllinoisVictims.org in Rockford:

Dear Friends,
I am once again asking you to help a mother who lost her child to murder.
Eighteen year old Bradley Berogan was murdered April 26 in Rockford, 19 days before he was to graduate from Auburn High School.

At the time of his death Bradley was passing all of his classes and was on target to graduate.
The Rockford School Board held a special meeting to discuss the issue, which I attended. At the meeting the school board ordered Rockford Superintendent Dennis Thompson to obtain the grades from Brad Berogan's teachers and if they were passing to award the diploma to his mother.

 Instead Superintendent Thompson created a special formula and advised the teachers to include the assignments that were assigned after Bradley died and grade him on the incomplete assignments. Since Bradley was dead he obviously did not attend school and did not complete the assignments.  Mr. Thompson therefore determined that a diploma would not be issued because he failed to complete the last 19 days assignments, bringing the prior passing grades down.
 
No student should be graded on assignments due after he is dead. Mrs. Berogan is asking for her son's diploma as a record of his accomplishments that would have been awarded if he had not been killed.
As a grieving mother, this is not an unreasonable request. However our school board and superintendent have chosen to deny this mother her simple request.

PLEASE GO ON LINE TO  www.illinoisvictims.org. AND SIGN THE ON-LINE PETITION TO HELP THIS FAMILY OBTAIN THEIR SON'S DIPLOMA. 


WE ARE ALSO PUTTING OUT A CALL FOR  PICKETING THE NEXT ROCKFORD SCHOOL BOARD MEETING JUNE 12 AT 5:30 PM. PLEASE CONSIDER JOINING US AND HELP A GRIEVING FAMILY OBTAIN WHAT IS RIGHTFULLY THEIRS.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP, VENI VIDI VICI!

Peace,
Gerri Flynn

 

HERE IS AN EMAIL exchange between our advocates and one of the members of the school board that is supporting Dr. Thompson, despite the majority vote at the last board meeting to award the diploma.

Dear Ms Kalchbrenner,

I am also copying my response to your clarifications of the www.illinoisvictims.com web site to all members of the Rockford School Board and Dr. Thompson.

I am fully aware of what was discussed and approved at the board meeting. I was shocked at your comments to the Berogan family indicating that they should accept your offer of the diploma in memoriam or risk receiving nothing at all! Your comments were not only insulting they were insensitive. You have indicated that the board had the desire to help the family recognize Bradley and have closure. While the Berogan family did feel that some of the board members were very sincere in their efforts to assist them, they did not feel that you or Dr. Thompson were sincere in your efforts. On the contrary, they felt as did many of us that you and the superintendent were judge mental of the circumstances surrounding their son's murder. You made them feel as if they were unimportant and that their son's accomplishments were not worthy of a diploma from this school district. I still fail to understand how offering a diploma to the grieving mother of a student that would have graduated in nineteen days had he not been murdered devalues the importance of the diploma. Your condescending comments and lack of compassion for this family and the terrible grief that they are experiencing is shameful.

As one of the board members that voted against Bradley Berogan receiving his diploma even if his grades were passing, it was evident by your comments through out the meeting that you had no intention of allowing this family to receive his real diploma. You and Superintendent Thompson were well aware that at the time of his death Bradley Berogan was passing all of his classes and that the expectation was that the final grades would be compiled based on the grades at the time of death. When Pat Hale faxed the memo to the teachers instructing them to factor in the possible points Bradley would have earned if he attended the last nineteen days of school, you knew that this would pull those passing grades down considerably, thus no diploma would be issued.

You should know that we at Illinois Victims Organization intend to continue a very public campaign against the Rockford School Board and Dr. Dennis Thompson, until the decision to deny the Berogan family their son's diploma is reversed.

I hope that you are able to see the pain and trauma that this decision has caused the
Berogan family and the enormous controversy it has brought to our community and our school district. As members of the Rockford School Board and the Superintendent of this school district you are in a position to right the wrong that has been done by reversing this decision.

Gerri Flynn

 

Ms. Flynn,
I am sorry that my comments were misunderstood at the Friday Board meeting.  I never advocated an "all or nothing" approach to the Berogan family- I was suggesting to Board members that we didn't want to have an "all or nothing" decision. This issue has been very difficult for all Board members.  I tried at every turn to be sensitive to the Berogan family's pain while trying to weigh the request with the difficulty of making decisions in the best interest of the District and all students.   I know all Board members take that job very seriously and try our best  - but we do not always agree with each other or with those requesting our decisions.   Also, the circumstances surrounding Bradley's death were not a factor in my decision. 
 
While I understood and acknowledged that my decision was not what they were looking for - I felt I treated Diane and Jerry with respect in my conversations and was sincere in my desire to provide acknowledgement for Bradley at graduation. I did not feel, or in any way mean to express, condescension or insensitivity.       
 
Nancy Kalchbrenner 
 
 

Ms.Flynn,
To clarify some points  on the Victims web site and petition drive for  Bradley  Berogan's diploma.  The Superintendent did not go against  the Board  majority directive.  As you know, the Board met  on Friday May 25.  The  motion to award the  standard diploma to Bradley was amended to direct the   Superintendent to obtain final grades for Bradley and the awarding of the  diploma would be contingent upon the grades  being  passing.  Understanding that the result might  not be a diploma, the  Board unanimously approved the awarding of an In Memoriam diploma at graduation  (as previously  offered to the family).
I just want to be sure  that your web site is correct.  The issue  would be  more properly directed at the Board as the Superintendent followed the  directive he was given.   There was  always a desire on the part of the  Board to help the  family see recognition and closure for the loss of Bradley  with  an In Memoriam diploma and recognition at the Graduation ceremony  which was  done last Friday.
 Nancy Kalchbrenner

EDITOR'S NOTE - Other school board members do not agree with Ms. Kalchbrenner's interpretation of the intention of the majority school board vote to award the diploma.

And now, an email exchange shared with the local media between us and the other leading opponent on the school board:

Dear member of the Rockford Area news media -

I wanted to share with you a series of emails between us at http://www.illinoisvictims.org/ and members of the Rockford school board, with one member in particular, Mr Kelley. Positive responses to our concerns were received by two others. You can read more about our position at the "Rockford Area" section of the website. We are a statewide victims rights watchdog group.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins
http://www.illinoisvictims.org

To The Rockford School Board and local press -

I am one of the leaders of IllinoisVictims.org, a statewide victims' rights watchdog group in Illinois. Please check out our website at http://www.illinoisvictims.org/, if you have not already. The section covering our discussion of this issue is under "Rockford Area."

We have been watching with interest the unfolding drama around the diploma controversy for Bradley Berogan. We are standing firmly behind the Berogan family in their conviction that they should receive a full diploma for Bradley. We believe that Dr Thompson is on some sort of personal agenda about appearing to be "tough", that is re-victimizing not only this family but the whole community especially the class of 2007, and tainting the memory of a special time in their lives.

I am a former high school administrator myself, now retired from education, doing advocacy work. And I have had school law classes. I used to be an academic dean and I know well the issue with grades and credits and calculations of grades. Dr. Thompson does not have a leg to stand on. The calculation he ordered teachers to use - one that includes year end work after Bradley was murdered, does not hold water. In fact, its ridiculous. And it makes the district appear ridiculous.

I know Dr Thompson was concerned about diluting the integrity of the Rockford diploma, but it is HIS actions that have done that, not Bradley's, or the family.

The community is strongly standing behind the Berogan Family. The victims' rights community in Illinois is strongly behind them, as well as the efforts of some among you in helping advocate for the correct course of action here.

Most of all we understand the psychology of being a victim of crime. Three members of my family were murdered 17 years ago by a suburban high school student. We understand what the families go through. Mrs. Berogan is a loyal employee of the district. What the district does matters immensely to her personal journey of healing, as the mother of a murdered son. Her well being and that of her entire family and many in the community, especially Bradley's classmates, are deeply affected by this decision.

The choice has been laid out before your school board - take actions that will honorably heal a divisive and hurtful situation that should never have been allowed to get this far, or continue to make things worse by standing behind an unwise, possibly illegal, and clearly insubordinate decision by a short-sighted superintendent. We urge you to show leadership in healing this increasingly divisive matter - to put it behind you, much as the Galesburg schools did in their diploma controversy.

We have no doubt from the media and community interest in this question that this issue will not go away until Dr Thompson does the right thing, or he is overruled and possibly removed, if he continues to be insubordinate, from his position as Superintendent of the Rockford Schools.

We have no doubt that if the school board fails to act that this will become an election issue in upcoming races on the school board. And given the national media coverage of the Galesburg diploma issue, it seems likely the spotlight on your process will not go away anytime soon either.

We are very sorry that all of this has happened. This tragedy should never have been made worse in this manner. The diploma could have been a lovely healing moment that brought some measure of closure and modeled many good messages to the young people of your school district. Instead, it has become a caricature of goes wrong in educational bureaucracies.

We wish you well and we are grateful for your voices of reason. Victim advocates will be watching with interest the outcome of this process.

All the best,
Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins
http://www.illinoisvictims.org/


In a message dated 6/13/2007 9:57:21 A.M. Central Daylight Time, david@pgarch.com writes:
 

While I sympathize with the Berogan family in their loss, the only equitable way to award the diploma based on Bradley's grades at time of death would be to eliminate consideration of the last month of school for everyone. Board Policy 6.300 (http://webs.rps205.com/district/files/FF79E33EDBAB4D76A339FAADD1EAC54B.pdf) clearly requires that students complete all state and district course requirements in order to qualify for graduation. Successful completion is defined as a final grade of "D" or higher by Adminstrative Regulation 6.180R. Bradley's grades at time of death were a progress report, not final grades. Final grades are (and should be) based on the entire semester's work, not a portion of it. Accepting those grades as final would ignore & demean the value of the last month's work performed by all the other students and constituting a double-standard.

Awarding a diploma in the absence of satisfying the actual requirements, while perhaps serving as an emotional balm to the family, would be a hollow fraud. While other districts may have done so in the past, this Board is adhering to the standard set by our policy. We are not awarding diplomas based on sympathy. No exceptions.

My own son was unable to graduate with his class a number of years ago because he failed a PE class. Why? Because he failed to dress in the PE uniform too often. He took the class again during summer school & graduated in August without the fanfare.

I applaud most of the causes that your group has undertaken, keeping the likes of Ted Bacino & Joey Didier's killer in prison. I sympathize with the personal loss that led you to undertake your mission. But your involvement in this controversy is mis-guided. Instead of fanning the flames of controversy with over-the-top rhetoric in this PR campaign, you would do well to let the Berogan family begin to heal.

David L. Kelley
Rockford Board of Education
Secretary & Member, Sub-district G
Chairman, Operations Committee



Mr Kelley -

Thank you for responding to my letter and explaining your position.

We do support the healing and life journey of the Berogan family in whatever ways are going to be helpful to them, as victim advocates, that is why we exist.

The full diploma is what will help them right now. And feeling that people in the community understand the importance of this symbol to them.

The reason that we feel that this is a victims' rights issue is because it is not at all reasonable in any way to require a student to complete work after he has been murdered. It just doesn't pass the common sense smell test.

We understand that you read the policies of your district to support your position. But there are so many other precedents, that your unwillingness to view the rules in light of the reality that Bradley has been murdered seems a total non-sequitur.

Examples would be the giving of grades of students leaving the district, based on work completed to date. Or athletic eligibility which is determined at the time of athletic performance. Bradley was "eligible" also at the time of his death. The law does not require bizarre and unreasoning literalism which holds someone accountable for materials after he has been murdered, especially when that standard is arbitrarily applied.

And full diplomas awarded posthumously, while not legally mandated, are common nationally and internationally, in fact, are a TRADITION. Examples include military service, medical illness, horrible accidents, and most recently the decision to award them at Virginia Tech to all murder victims at each of the classes upcoming graduations for the next several years.

Even the Galesburg school district recently rescinded their decision to withhold diplomas from students whose families were cheering for them because what happened to those students was beyond their control as well.

And the best example comes from your own Superintendent this year who ordered D's be given to students who had earned F's in courses, so that they could graduate when they had not earned the credit. He did this because the school, through no fault of the students, had not provided adequate warning of failure to them. He changed grades because, through no fault of their own, the students could not help themselves to pull up their own grades.

The same principle should apply even more so to a student who has been murdered.

Bradley could not complete the credits, though he surely would have. He was murdered by someone else through no fault of his own. No matter how you view the incident that ended his life, he did not ask to be murdered, and no one ever deserves that, no matter what they do.

Everyone is entitled to due process of law, under our constitution. The decision by the Superintendent rendered him personally judge, jury and executioner. It is not for him to judge. It is not for you to judge. It is for you to set policies that advance the education and well-being of the students in Rockford.

We understand that the real dynamic of all this is the personal values of the Superintendent, an ex-military man, who sees himself as needing to stand "tough" to preserve his image. And we have heard that it is his personal anger over this situation that is the real issue. We understand the necessary division amongst you all on the school board over supporting your Superintendent or not on this issue.

But we remind you that your first obligation is to the students, and to their families, and to the general public.

It has not helped advance anyone's education or best interests that you all have chosen to back a hard line literalism that in this case was targeted at a student that the Superintendent felt was trouble, and done so arbitrarily when examining the case of the failing students, as a comparative example.

You all have had for some weeks the opportunity to do something not only right by the student, but gracious, healing, and uplifting. It would have been so much better than the choice to bring such a dark cloud over the whole graduation process for the class of 2007 and on-going grief for all involved. And no one would have thought less of the Rockford diploma. In fact, they would have learned to cherish it more.

We urge you to reconsider. We know that the public will be attentive to this issue well through the elections for school board members and we remain concerned that you all resolve this matter now before it creates more attention nationally, as well as on-going complications for the students and their families, the district and the school board.

Jennifer
IllinoisVictims.org
 

And now for some news coverage of the issue locally:
First from the Rockford Register Star:

June 18, 2007 "Win or lose, board can’t let school issues fester"

The ongoing controversy over the Rockford School Superintendent Dennis Thompson’s decision not to award a high school diploma to a senior who was fatally shot a month before graduation highlights what appears to be a deepening rift on the board that is unhealthy for the district.

We did not agree with Thompson’s decision to withhold the diploma from 18-year-old Bradley Berogan’s family members, who requested a full diploma. The young man had passing grades when he was killed, and had he lived to attend school for one more month, he likely would have kept his average up and graduated with his class.

Thompson ordered that Berogan’s grades be figured to include zeros for all the work he missed because he was dead. The result, of course, was that Berogan’s class averages dropped and he didn’t meet graduation requirements.

Naturally, the family was upset and still is. Diane Berogan, the slain youth’s mother who also happens to work for the School District, vows to fight until she gets the diploma. A state victims’ rights organization has taken up the cause.

Although we feel that Thompson took an unnecessarily hard line on this matter, we concede that a decision was made and we lost. Meanwhile, a minority of board members who side with the family want to keep the issue alive, when, as Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner points out, there isn’t support for an appeal.

“My concern is, are we contributing to the (Berogan) family’s pain by bringing it up at every meeting when there isn’t support to change the decision?” she said.

Four board members supported Thompson’s decision — in public, at least — and they represent a majority. Three other board members seem to want to keep the matter stirred up, contributing to a public-relations debacle and leaving the public impression that the district is sliding back to the chaotic days of the not-too-distant past.

The antics and personal fixations of some previous board members, particularly some who served during the long-running desegregation suit, fed a circuslike atmosphere that surrounded the district for more than a decade. They seemed unable to keep their eyes on the big picture as they made headlines micromanaging the district and fixating on minutiae.

When people are elected to boards, they should remind themselves from Day 1 until the final gavel of the term that they will win some and the will lose some. Boards make policy; they don’t oversee day-to-day operations.

In this situation, it seems ever clearer that Thompson’s autocratic style is polarizing the board and becoming the issue. Not everything the superintendent does is right and not everything he does is wrong. However, he has brought financial stability to the district and guided it in the direction of improved quality. He has to understand that doesn’t give him carte blanche.

Meanwhile, some board members have become amazingly predictable in their positions on either side of him. Rubber stamps board members serve the district as poorly as those who automatically disagree with the administration.

We can’t be the only ones who’ve noticed this. It’s time for supporters and detractors alike to step back, take a deep breath and look for different perspectives.


June 8, 2007 from columnist Judy Emerson with the Rockford Register Star

A reader who happens to be a teacher in Rockford’s public schools wondered about a possible double standard demonstrated in the past few months by Superintendent Dennis Thompson. The super supported the Jefferson High School principal in February when the principal changed a bunch of grades, giving D’s to students who had earned F’s in classes. Teachers objected, but the administration said parents had not received proper notice that their kids were failing. So the kids got passing grades, even though they did not earn them.

Last week, Thompson refused to give a high school diploma to the family of a student who was shot to death a month before graduation. The boy had passing grades at the time of his death, but when his average was calculated to include work he couldn’t complete because he was dead, the youth had failed two classes. Thompson said grades and diplomas have to have meaning.

Hmmm.

Contact Judy Emerson at 815-987-1336 or jemerson@rrstar.com.


 

Auburn teen who died in April won’t get diploma
The School Board says his grades for the entire semester were not good enough.

JOHN F. ELBERS II | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

All that Diane Berogan wants from the Rockford School Board is an official diploma to hang next to her son Bradley's Auburn High School senior picture. Bradley was slain a month before he would have finished school.

By Jeff Kolkey
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
Click here for more information about Jeff Kolkey
ROCKFORD — The Auburn High School senior who was shot and killed weeks before graduation won’t be awarded the diploma his mother had sought. Diane Berogan will get an honorary diploma in memoriam instead.

Had her son, Bradley Berogan, not died April 27, it is possible and likely he would have maintained his “C” grade-point average and completed the required courses to graduate. But when Auburn teachers were ordered to calculate his final grades, they included all points possible in the final semester in the calculations.

That left Berogan with failing grades in chemistry and U.S. history, Diane Berogan said. She said his grades should have been assessed as of the time of his death.

“Why are they making me suffer more over this child’s death on something so trivial?” Berogan said. “If you’re dead, of course you can’t go to school.”

She will be given an honorary diploma from the School Board during Friday’s Auburn graduation ceremony, after the rest of the senior class receives their diplomas.

Berogan was passing his fourth-quarter courses when he was killed during what police have described as a weapons transaction. Incomplete work after his death was computed in the grade calculation, Superintendent Dennis Thompson said.

Thompson said giving out a standard diploma because of sympathy for Berogan’s family would cheapen the value of the diploma. Thompson said the possible cost in public relations is worth protecting the integrity of the award and that the circumstances surrounding Berogan’s death played no role in the decision.

“Dead people can’t graduate,” Thompson said. “I don’t mean to sound cruel. It’s a fact of life. If we are going to say he qualified for a diploma, we will be saying he qualified like every other student. ... He didn’t complete the requirements because he died, but he may not have completed them anyway.”

School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner said administrators followed the School Board’s orders in calculating the final grades and followed standard practice.

“The board wanted the grades played out to the end,” Kalchbrenner said.

Board member Mike Williams disagreed, saying administrators created a calculation that lowered Berogan’s grades.

“All indications are it would have been passing grades from his teachers, but this new formula Dennis (Thompson) created usurped the process,” Williams said.

Principal Richard Jancek said Berogan’s teachers calculated his grades like they do for other students.

Jancek said there was no new formula used.

“In this case, and it’s very unfortunate, the student died in a terrible accident but when I am asked to compute, or I ask teachers to compute, a final grade, it is total points earned over total points possible for the entire term,” said Jancek, adding the system left Berogan with no credit for any remaining course work after his death in late April.

Auburn senior Tasha VanVleck, a friend of Berogan, said many in the senior class were saddened by the decision.

VanVleck said Berogan and his family deserve a standard diploma.

“This is adding more sorrow onto what we are already dealing with in losing him, and now we have to deal with not being able to receive the diploma,” VanVleck said. “It’s an add-on we don’t need. It hurts a lot of people.”

Staff writer Jeff Kolkey can be reached at 815-987-1374 or at jkolkey@rrstar.com.

Letters To The Editor

Grades figured unfairly

Grades for sports eligibility are based on grade to date. Students leaving the district are given grades as of the date of withdrawal.

Why not evaluate the late Bradley Berogan’s work using the same criteria? (“No diploma for slain student,” Local & State, May 31).

This would not degrade the value of anyone’s diploma.

— William Carlson, Rockford

 

Slain student’s diploma up to Rockford superintendent

JOHN F. ELBERS II | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

All that Diane Berogan wants from the Rockford School Board she says is an official diploma to hang next to her son Bradley's Auburn High School senior picture. Not like the one she is holding. Bradley was killed 19 days before he was finished with school.

By Jeff Kolkey
ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR

ROCKFORD — The Rockford School Board voted in a special meeting Friday night to award a diploma to an Auburn High School student who was shot and killed last month.

The board voted 4-3 to award the diploma posthumously to Bradley Berogan in one of three motions. In the second motion, the board voted 4-3 to direct teachers at Auburn to award a final grade to Berogan, subject to review by Principal Richard Jancek.

Those voting in favor of the motions were Jay Nellis, David Kelley, Michael Williams and Jeanne Westholder. Those opposed were Nancy Kalchbrenner, Alice Saudargas and Bob Evans.

A third motion, to award an honorary diploma in memoriam in the event the final grades do not result in enough credits to earn graduation, passed unanimously.

In addition to the awarding of final grades by Berogan’s teachers and the principal, Superintendent Dennis Thompson must certify that all candidates, including Berogan, are “eligible for graduation.”

After the meeting, an irritated Thompson said Berogan “has not completed the requirements for graduation.”

Asked if he would certify Berogan as a candidate for graduation, Thompson said, “I don’t know. As of right now? No.”

Auburn seniors are scheduled to graduate June 1.

Berogan’s mother, Diane Berogan, said Bradley was poised to graduate with the Auburn Class of 2007. He was killed April 27 during what police described as a weapons transaction gone bad.

Diane Berogan said her son — who was to attend Lincoln Technical Institute in July — deserves to be honored during the Auburn graduation June 1 and has earned the same diploma as his classmates.

“I want what Brad worked his whole life for,” she said.

Diane Berogan said her son has earned the same diploma as his classmates. She rejected School Board President Kalchbrenner’s offered compromise of an honorary diploma.

Thompson said Bradley Berogan died without having satisfied graduation requirements. Because of student record confidentiality laws, Thompson said, he could not share further details.

Diane and Frank Berogan attended the meeting with 26 supporters and armed with more than 600 signatures petitioning the board to have their son receive a diploma.

Jerri Flynn, mother of 18-year-old Eric Flynn who was fatally stabbed in fall 2004 during an altercation at a bonfire party in a rural area northwest of Rockford, was one of 26 people to attend the meeting in support of the Berogans.

Before the board’s decision, Flynn questioned Thompson’s stance.

“I don’t know what kind of statement he’s trying to make. This is unconscionable to me that the family has this issue to deal with.”

Before the board’s hour-long executive session meeting, in which this matter was the only item on the agenda, Thompson said he would not give a diploma despite his sympathy for a family’s tragic loss. He said there must be standards for the diploma to have meaning.

“One of the ways you build a culture of excellence, which is what I am trying to do, is to consistently have high standards,” Thompson said. “From my point of view, it diminishes the value of it. It becomes the sympathy award. While I certainly understand the family suffered a tragic loss, at the end of the day, I have to uphold the integrity of the diploma.”

Staff writer Jeff Kolkey contributed to this report.

Chris Green can be reached at 815-987-1241 or cgreen@rrstar.com.

Family, friends rally for dead teen, diploma
The School Board did not respond to a protest Tuesday calling for the district to issue a diploma for Bradley Berogan.
 
JON GIFFIN | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR
Ken Berogan, uncle to Bradley Berogan, walks with other protesters who were calling for Bradley to recieve a diploma Tuesday outside the Board of Education building in Rockford.
 



Click here for more information about Jeff Kolkey
ROCKFORD — Diane Berogan vowed Tuesday night to fight until she wins an authentic diploma for her son who was killed weeks before he would have graduated from Auburn High School. The grieving mother was one of about two dozen protesters who picketed outside School District headquarters before a Rockford School Board meeting.

Her son, Bradley Berogan, was shot and killed April 27 during what has been described as a weapons transaction.

At least one protester said the honorary diploma that was given in memory of Bradley Berogan at the Auburn graduation ceremony was “insulting.”

If the teen had not died, protesters said, he would have maintained his C grade-point average and graduated.

But Superintendent Dennis Thompson has declined to certify a diploma for Bradley Berogan saying the senior did not meet graduation requirements before he died.

“I will fight until I get it,” said Diane Berogan, who took a leave of absence from her job as a parent liaison at Stiles Elementary School after her son’s death.

Family, friends and supporters carried signs on bright poster boards, wore photo buttons of Bradley Berogan with an angel beside his picture, and displayed his framed photograph as they marched up and down the Madison Street sidewalk.

They demanded that the School Board overturn Thompson’s decision not to award the full diploma.

Thompson, who is on vacation and could not immediately be reached for comment, has said he will not award a diploma out of sympathy for a family’s tragic loss. He said the diploma must have value and that everyone who earns one must complete the same minimum requirements.

Several of the protesters spoke before the School Board meeting during an open session pleading for them to order Thompson to certify a diploma for the Berogan family.

There was no immediate response.

Thompson’s stance is an embarrassment, said Gerri Flynn, a member of Illinoisvictims.org and the mother of a child who was killed.

Flynn said the organization would continue to support the Berogan family and may attempt to bring in national victim’s rights associations to help.

“The School Board and Dr. Thompson could have used this as an opportunity to set an example of care and compassion,” Flynn told board members. “Instead it was chosen to turn this into a citywide controversy and public relations nightmare.”

Frank Berogan, Bradley’s father, asked board members to reconsider the decision.

“We’re not looking for a sympathy card,” Frank Berogan said. “The honorary diploma doesn’t say he completed anything, it just says he is remembered.”

Staff writer Jeff Kolkey can be reached at 815-987-1374 or at jkolkey@rrstar.com.

 

From WREX.com

Parents Fight to Get Slain High School Student his Diploma


By Marissa Alter
13 News

For many parents, seeing their kids graduate high school is one of life's highlights. But Diane and Frank Berogan won't get that chance after their 18-year-old son was killed last month. Now they want to get the diploma he would've received.

Friday, the Berogans took their fight to the school board. Bradley Berogan was supposed to graduate from Auburn High School on June 1st. His mother says she was first told she'd receive Brad's diploma, then later got the news that Superintendent Dr. Dennis Thompson removed him from the graduation list because he didn't complete his last semester of school. Friday night, the Berogans and dozens of friends and family asked the school board to reconsider.

Frank Berogan tries to stay composed as he listens to friends and family make the case for why his son deserves his high school diploma, Frank drove Bradley to school every day since he was four and says graduating meant everything to him. "We had that little special talk every day how getting somewhere, what it was going to take. His education meant everything to him. There was even some kids at Auburn that, there was a few of them that didn't think they were going to make it to the end of the year and Brad told them thy were all going to do it together."

But that didn't happen. Brad was shot and killed April 27th during what police call a gun transaction gone bad and Diane speculates that's the reason his diploma was taken away, not what she was told. School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner says, "There had been discussions all week."

But in a 4 to 3 vote, school board members reversed the administration's decision, allowing Bradley to still be listed with his class at graduation, provided his grades would let him graduate. Diane says, "The only thing this diploma is going to do is hopefully give not only us but also the kids at Auburn school some closure."

Diane says Bradley had a 2.0 grade point average when he died, but Kalchbrenner says all that still needs to be worked out. If his GPA is lower, the Berogans will get an 'in memoriam' diploma instead.

Updated: May 25, 2007, 6:40 pm

Protestors Picket Outside School Board Meeting
By Dani Maxwell
13 News

A large group upset with the Rockford School District protests at the board meeting. They think an Auburn High School senior who was murdered in April should get his diploma.

Bradley Berogan's family says he had passing grades. The school board agreed he could get his diploma if that was the case. But the family claims Superintendent Dennis Thompson told Bradley's teachers to give him grades for the assignments he missed after he died. Brad's mom Diane says, "It should be the grades at the time of his death, not all the zeroes they gave him after his death."

Dr. Thompson gave Bradley an "honorary diploma." His mom appealed, but Tuesday night the school board voted to uphold Thompson's decision.

Updated: June 12, 2007, 7:39 pm


From WIFR.com Channel 23

 

Family Wants Dead Son's Diploma
Posted: 10:34 PM May 25, 2007
Last Updated: 10:34 PM May 25, 2007
Reporter: Max Seigle
Email Address: max.seigle@wifr.com
They came armed with signs and petitions...hoping to get Bradley Berogen his high school diploma. "He earned it, he deserved it, he worked 15 years for it," said Berogen's mother Diane Berogen.
Last month, Berogen's chance at that diploma was taken from him when the Senior at Auburn High School was shot and killed on Rockford's west side. Even though he's gone, Berogen's family and friends want a diploma for the 18-year-old. And they came to a special school board meeting Friday night to make that appeal. "We definitely need to get to the bottom of this before the kids graduate and he has no closure with the rest of his students," said Berogen's father Frank Berogen. Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner said she understands the family's desire for the diploma. But was concerned that granting one to someone who didn't finish high school could devalue the true meaning of the recognition. But ultimately the board voted 4 to 3 to grant the diploma as along as Berogen's grades warrent one. Berogen's mother was hoping for a final decision. She said, "Yeah, I'm concerned because when are they going to tell me, they graduate in one week." The district says Berogan's friends and family will probably have to wait until next Wednesday or Thursday for an answer.

FROM JUNE 12th

The family of murdered teen Bradley Berogan is once again denied his official Auburn High School diploma. Berogan was killed in what police call a gun deal gone bad in late April, just 19 days before graduation.

The board voted four to two Tuesday night not to reconsider the way Berogan's grades were tallied toward his graduation requirements. That's despite protests from dozens of friends and family members and their testimony during the meeting asking for his diploma.

The school board voted May 25th to ask Superintendent Dennis Thompson to collect Berogan's final grades and award him a diploma if he had enough credits. Before his death, Berogan did have enough credits to pass. However, after his death he was scored zeros for all incomplete work. Those zeros mean Berogan no longer had passing grades. The board awarded a memorial diploma instead and they're standing by that choice.
"This is a very tragic situation. It's been very difficult for the board. But I felt that it had been addressed and I did not get any indication from the board members as we saw tonight that they wanted to reevaluate," says School Board President Nancy Kalchbrenner.

Diane Berogan, Bradley's mother counters, "I guess I'll just have to get a lawyer. I didn't want to have to do that because the district doesn't need all this extra mess going on but if that's what they want I guess that's what I'm going to have to do."
Board members are divided over exactly what their May 25th directive was to Dr. Thompson. Member Jay Nellis says he never expected Dr. Thompson to include grades after Berogan's death, while Kalchbrenner says that was part of the deal. She added that it's important a student completes all work until the end of the year and the board worried awarding a diploma to someone who did not would set a bad precedent. Nellis says he plans to pursue the issue further.
 

VIDEO COVERAGE OF THE JUNE 12th SCHOOL BOARD MEETING AND TO POST YOUR COMMENTS

 

FROM WTVO.COM

Mother Rallys Support for Deceased Son's Diploma
Reported by: Jaclyn Schultz
Tuesday, Jun 12, 2007 @10:18pm
Protestors want the Rockford School Board to give a diploma to a student who was shot and killed weeks before he would have graduated.

Superintendent Dennis Thompson had declined to certify a diploma for Bradley Berogan, saying he did not meet graduation requirements.

One board member tried to bring the issue before the board tonight, but that motion failed.

The board room was packed with people rallying for Bradley's cause, but their voices weren't enough.

Bradley's mother asked the Rockford School Board to reconsider the way her son's final grades were decided.

"It shouldn't have gone this far. I hope it gets resolved real soon," Diane Berogan says.

She rejected the chance for an honorary diploma to be given instead.

People started a petition to grant Bradley a real diploma. Supporters showed up in full force to sway the board to do so.

The school administration decided that Bradley didn't have the passing grades to graduate.

Nancy Kalchbrenner says, since Bradley had failing grades, the decision was fair.

"I'm sorry for the situation. I feel the administration was correct in this case and we'll go forward," Kalchbrenner says.

But Jay Nellis says the administration should have used the grades at the final date of his death to guarantee Bradley would get a diploma, because he couldn't complete the last 19 days of school.

"The superintendent defied the directive by guaranteeing the student get failing grades," Nellis says.

The battle may not be over yet. Nellis says he'll put the issue on the agenda for the next board meeting.
 

ROCKFORD AREA VICTIMS INFORMATION

Some of the most activist victims working with IllinoisVictims.org are in Winnebago County, and in the Rockford area. We will be dedicating this section of the website to their issues, their meetings, and their cases. Contact us with any news that you wish to see posted on this section of the website.

The former Winnebago County States' Attorney Paul Logli has been extremely supportive of the issues of crime victims in his office, and has brought distinction to the entire region by serving as the President of the National District Attorney's Association. The office continues to distinguish itself statewide for its focus on victims with the new State’s Attorney Philip J. Nicolosi.

And we have found that the county victim advocate Barbara Stone is one of the most caring and effective victim advocates any of us have ever worked with. She is, in our experience, the model of what a professional victim advocate should and can be. She always goes above and beyond the call for the families she works with, and she cares deeply about not only the cases before her but the larger context within which all victim service work falls. Even if her work takes her to Chicago or Springfield, she is there for the families she serves. We are grateful to her for the support she has given us in starting IllinoisVictims.org.

ROCKFORD HOMICIDE SUPPORT GROUP

Each month the Rockford Homicide Support Group meets.

Homicide Survivor's Support Group
Meets 4th Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm.
Offering support to those who have lost a loved one or friend to violence.
This group is for adults eighteen and older.
For information contact:  Barb Stone  815 319-4781

McFeggan's homicide survivor group will continue, despite her brutal murder, June 2009.

The homicide survivor's support group started by a woman murdered in Rockford Monday will continue.
http://www.wrex.com/global/story.asp?s=10620184

And this news story from WREX is just one example of the great work that they do.

Surviving a Loves One's Homicide
By Marissa Alter
13 News

ROCKFORD -- Losing a loved one is always a hard. but when that person is murdered, the death and often trial that follows can be devastating. But one group hopes to help with the pain.

The Homicide Survivors' Support Group began almost two years with just a few members. Today, there's often up to 18 people at the group's monthly meetings.

For the past couple months, Gerri Flynn has worked on this memory wall, a tribute to her son Eric, who was murdered a year and a half ago. She says the project has helped her grieve and heal. So has the Homicide Survivors' Support
Group. She says, "Other people, they try. Your friends and family try but this type of a grief brings with it a lot of other feelings, angers, anxieties and it's been very helpful to me to be supported by this group of people."

Carol McFeggan started the group in July 2004 after her brother was killed by a drunk driver. "We just hope to be kind of a sounding board. A lot of times in group there are things that families or individuals can talk about that they can't necessary talk about with their co-workers. A lot of people are uncomfortable listening to survivors who're talking about what happened."

In the future, Carol hopes they take on a new role: advocates for victims' rights. Both women say there needs to be some changes in the justice system. "When you're going through the judicial process, you notice the defendant seems to have all the rights, they can recall a judge 2 or 3 times, we can do it once." Gerri adds, "More than once we said 'Who made these laws?' They couldn't ever have possibly lost anyone or dealt with this because they were very unreasonable. We had to fight for the victim's rights for our son's voice to be heard. We felt we had to fight for them to know who was Eric
Flynn."

This week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week so the group is holding a special memorial service on Wednesday evening. If you'd like to go,it's at 6:30 at the Riverside Community Church in Machesney Park.

Click here below to watch the wonderful video that goes with the story from WREX.

Video

 

And this story from WREX about the work of the Rockford Homicide Support Group:

 

Support Group Offers Help to Victims' Families
By Smita Kalokhe
13 News

The loss of a sibling, spouse, or child is perhaps one of the most trying emotional hurdles a person faces. But the aftermath of homicide, including bringing a criminal to justice, can complicate the grieving process even more. An event in Machesney Park aims to help the healing.

Death isn't easy no matter what side of the police tape you're on. For the second annual Homicide Survivors' Support Group memorial service, families and investigators came together to honor the victims. Gerri Flynn, who's son Eric was murdered, says, "It's an opportunity to bring together those who suffered a unique loss."

Eric was killed more than 2 years ago. Today, Gerri finds comfort as she consoles others who have experienced similar pain. "Let them know they're supported, cared about. Their loved ones are remembered."

Dozens of people gathered at Riverside Community Church to keep victims' memories alive. Pastor Bill Kerr says, "We just hope they know their loved one isn't forgotten."

Each candle lit, each balloon released, a tribute to one of them and a reminder to never forget.

But the grieving doesn't end here, and neither does the support, especially for families concerned about the court system. Bill Jenkins, who founded IllinoisVictims.org, says, "Legislation started to appear in Springfield that would alter the sentences of people who were long term prisoners."

The bill doesn't require victim's families to be notified of the changes, so Jenkins founded a group dedicated to keeping victims up to date. "We decided that if they weren't going to do it, somebody had to. So we formed the illinoisvictims.org website as a venue for coming out."

The Homicide Survivors' Support Group started up about three years ago. It meets every month and is open to any one who is grieving.
Updated: 2007-04-27 16:36:15
 

And this video that goes with the story:

Video

 

CONGRATS to our SECOND IllinoisVictims.org HERO AWARD WINNER

Given right after National Crime Victims Rights Week, April 23, 2008 to our Honoree: Barb Stone, Winnebago County Victim Advocate, this year's Victims Hero Award went to what we believe the role model for a caring victim advocate should be.

Media Coverage of the event was impressive!!

See TELEVISION coverage of The Third Annual Homicide Support Group Memorial Service Honoring the Memory of Victims of Violent Crime, Wednesday April 23, 2008 - 6 pm - Riverside Community Church, 6816 N Second St, Machesney Park, IL 61115. Questions contact Carol McFeggan 815-877-6788

PICTURES

Here is Barb with her award, then surrounded by victims, the Mayborne Family, and Jennifer Bishop-Jenkins.

Barb was interviewed by Rockford area radio about her work as a victim advocate.

Speakers at the ceremony were Phil Nicolosi and Greg Lindmark and featured  a wonderful Candlelighting Ceremony, Balloon Release, Refreshments and Fellowship. Pictures of our loved ones for the candle lighting were displayed.

Please send us your testimonials about why Barb Stone has been a hero to crime victims

WHY WE LOVE WINNEBAGO COUNTY VICTIM ADVOCATE BARB STONE

Barb Stone, a county based victim advocate for the Rockford area, has distinguished herself as a role model for victim advocates everywhere. She does not just work hard, sensitively, caringly, enthusiastically, for her own constituents, but she has never failed to be there for ALL of us - statewide. She has done as much for some of us in Cook County as the victim advocates here. Her love and concern crosses county lines. She keeps her eyes out for things that would affect all of us. She goes the extra mile. She goes to prisons with families that have to attend Prisoner Review Board hearings. She sends encouraging messages out regularly. She investigates important matters that need to be looked into. She knows her cases. She knows her job. She is a fierce fighter for those most injured among us. She advocates wisely and effectively on the policy level. She sends resource information and answers to most any question we ask. We love Barb Stone and we thank God for her.

And here is another:
I have seen first hand the ways in which working with victims affects Barb Stone. It is more than a job for her; it is a
calling. I have never seen anyone who is as empathetic and caring for individuals who are, at least in the beginning,
complete strangers. She bears the weight of the hardships of others without asking for anything in return. Oftentimes,
however, her victims realize what it means to have such a caring advocate fighting for them in times of need. None of us
knows when we will find ourselves in the position of a victim, and for most of us we would not realize the importance of
having someone there to support and guide us through trying and confusing times until it happened to us. I know that if i ever find myself in that position, I would want no one but and individual like Barb to be there for me. The world is a cruel
place, and it is utterly refreshing to find a beam of light shining through the clouds in the hardest of times. Sometimes,
this is the only time we can see such a light, and the victims who have been advocated by Barb Stone know exactly what I am
talking about.
 

 

 

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