Assistant Principal of Operations Mark Rigby Resigns

By Divitya Vakil, Editor-in-Chief

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Mark Rigby resigned as Assistant Principal of Operations, bringing closure to an investigation that began in early November after three employees were escorted out of Niles West. Union President Tim Miller announced Rigby’s decision in an emergency union meeting held after school on Monday, Dec. 10.

“Mark contacted me to deliver the message to staff all at once as opposed to having it trickle out,” Miller said. “People are frustrated. Mr. Rigby has been here for 20 years. He has worked here as a teacher, as a dean, and chose to work with some of the most difficult students in the school. He’s touched a lot of different corners of this school so people are definitely frustrated by what’s going on. People think that whatever mistakes that Mark Rigby made, he was making them because it was the best for students, staff, and teachers.”

Math Teacher Seema Chandarana began working at West at the same time as Rigby and was devastated to hear the news.

“I don’t know what happened, but I do know Mr. Rigby. We started working the same day twenty years ago,” Chandarana said. “There is no question of his character.”

Throughout November and December, teachers and staff donned buttons marked with a wolf and the letters “MR,” to show their solidarity with Rigby. In conjunction, a letter of support was submitted to principal Jason Ness, Human Resources director Tom Kim, and Superintendent Steven Isoye on Tuesday, Nov. 27. Over 200 staff members signed in agreement with the following statement:

We, the undersigned members of the Niles West community would like to express our unqualified support for our colleague Mark Rigby, Assistant Principal of Operations at West. We believe Mark’s contributions over his long tenure as a teacher, coach, Dean, and Assistant Principal have made a lasting positive impact on Niles West students, families, and staff. He has gained our respect and support through his tireless efforts on our behalf and his relentlessly positive demeanor. We strongly believe he is an indispensable part of the daily life and educational mission of Niles West. 

Social Studies teacher Chris Schwarz and accounting teacher Eric Lueder helped circulate the letter and deliver it to administration.

“Rigby has been an important part of this school and has done his job well in the eyes of the staff here. So we wanted to publicly show our support for him. This was a movement that involved people from every part of the building,” Schwarz said. “Our interest from the start was that this be done professionally and respectfully because that’s what we think would serve Mr. Rigby’s cause. He’s worthy of our support.”

English teacher Sharon Swanson reflected on her experiences with Rigby.

“I’ve been at Niles West for a long time, and I’ve seen many assistant principals in action. Rigby was exceptional in every possible way. I dealt with him as a teacher, as a Dean, and an assistant principal,” Swanson said. “He always offered meaningful support; however, everybody knew he would call them out on their B.S. He is smart, funny, and honest. I cannot imagine another person in this building who would be so missed.”

Rigby’s secretary, Heidi Richards, shared similar sentiments.

“I have worked with him for four years. We got along very well. I will miss him but that’s all I’ll say about it,” Richards said.

This feeling of support extends to students as well. For weeks prior to his resignation, students noticed Rigby’s absence from school. On Dec. 5, a group of approximately 10 students wore shirts that stated “Bring Rigby Back.” Junior Kyle Moy shared his reasoning behind wearing the shirt.

“Rigby is a really good guy. Our friend group just decided we wanted to support him and show we have his back. I’ve known him and he’s known my family as well. He’s a good guy. I think him being gone is kind of upsetting for people,” Moy said.

Katie Trail
Juniors show their support for Mark Rigby on Dec. 5.

Some students who did not know him personally still feel Rigby’s loss.

“I don’t really know anything about the situation, but I’ve seen teachers wearing pins and stuff to support him. I never knew him personally, but I know he was a good person in general,” junior Ellen Malek said.

However, others feel they weren’t aware of enough details of the situation to formulate an opinion.

“I’m kind of indifferent on it. The whole [investigation] seemed kind of shady and I didn’t know what he did for us as a student body so I have no clue how I feel about [his resignation],” junior Jake Cachila said.

Principal Jason Ness shared what some of the next steps are in lieu of the empty position.

“When someone you know and have a relationship with is no longer here, there is a grieving process to that. It’s rough for everybody and I think we still have to move on as a school and community through the good times and bad,” Ness said. “Certainly this is all new and I just learned about it late yesterday. We’re still processing it and coming up with a game plan. I’ll be working with the district office and human resources to figure it out.”


Lexi Lee and Isa Gil contributed to this story.


18 Responses to “Assistant Principal of Operations Mark Rigby Resigns”

  1. Inana on December 11th, 2018 1:42 pm

    I say this in complete frustration, what a shame and loss on Niles West’s part. Rigby has been working at West for the past twenty years. He not only made these hallways his own home, but ours as well. He never failed to make people smile early in the mornings. Before school? Rigby was there. After school? Rigby was there. Rigby attended almost all of the sporting events, encouraged kids to be their best selves, spoke to classes during his personal time and educated everyone. He was always our number one supporter and never wanted anything but the best for us. Rigby took TIME to learn about his kids. All 2K+ of them. Disrespecting his legacy in such a way is a shame.
    If his resignation is making a Niles West alumn this upset, imagine how it’s effecting his current students who saw his face every day this year. Sad.

  2. Ms. Lichterman on December 11th, 2018 2:45 pm

    Mr. Rigby was the backbone of Niles West. As a valued colleague for nineteen years, I appreciated the time and attention he gave to staff and students alike. He was a tireless advocate for our students and a devoted educator. Without hesitation, he would take time out of his day to come into class to talk with students and answer questions openly and honestly. He made this building feel a bit more safe and calm. Not only will l miss his Friday department walk-throughs and book recommendations, I will sorely miss his compassion and energy. This is a loss for Niles West students and faculty.

  3. Sarah on December 11th, 2018 2:58 pm

    I am absolutely shocked, hurt, and utterly disappointed by the actions that led to this decision. Mr. Rigby was always one of the kindest faculty members at Niles West, he was one of the warmest individuals when it came to assisting the NWN (which I was a part of), and he truly gave his heart to the school and students. Mr. Rigby put the students of Niles West first and I say this with the utmost respect, but my time at Niles West would have absolutely sucked if I didn’t have faculty members like Mr. Rigby to assist me. I am disappointed at the fact that some of these students do not realize the impact this man had. Mr. Rigby deserved better, end of story.

  4. Duaa on December 11th, 2018 3:03 pm

    I am so utterly disappointed that Rigby felt like he needed to resign due to what has been happening at West for the past few weeks. He has been a pillar for this community for so long and it is unfathomable to imagine West without him. He has done nothing but give everything he has to make West better for the students and the teachers. He has improved the lives of many students. He has always made sure our voices have been heard and included students in discussions and decisions. He was the life of the party in every setting and changed the lives of everyone for the better. He supported students when they felt like they couldn’t do something, he was the voice of reason and was not afraid to make you look at your problems head on. He was more than just a teacher, dean, and Vice Principal — he was our friend. He was our mentor. He was our role model. He dedicated twenty years to West and I am so disgusted that this is how it has to end.

  5. Jack lochner on December 11th, 2018 3:13 pm


  6. austin Kessem on December 11th, 2018 6:04 pm


  7. Hira on December 11th, 2018 7:38 pm

    My heart is torn after reading this. He was an amazing dean to me and I always looked forward to school because of him. He was a great mentor and always had our back. He knew when I was in trouble and down, and always was helpful. Bring him back!!

  8. Anonymous on December 11th, 2018 8:24 pm

    Mr. Rigby was my Freshman (and sophmore) math teacher- before he became a dean. I remember his Army stories, and him coming to school after being sprayed by a Skunk ? because he’s that guy, the man that shows up, and he taught that as a teacher, to me and to so many others, he reached further than hundreds of teachers that Ive had throughout my education and GOT THROUGH- which is why he naturally was an amazing Dean, and Im sure one of the most qualified and equipped AP’s that Niles has ever had the Privilege to employ. This is sad, while in school, educators are able to reach out and help when they can, while the youth are still impressionable, as opposed to strictly reprimanding and serving out consequences like law enforcement, teachers are the first line of defense- they are in a unique space where they are able to influence and make that difference in the future generations lives- and Rigby made that difference in my life personally, as well as many others I know. #BringBackRigby

  9. Alyssa on December 11th, 2018 10:09 pm

    I think Niles West messed up big time making this decision because Rigby was always there for each and every student and I know for a fact he was real one better than everybody else in that school he know how to make kids feel welcome and safe at that school always putting smiles and making people laugh my brother had him as Dean and I pretty sure he would say the same thing but y’all should feel ashamed that you let his happen

  10. Bobby on December 11th, 2018 11:20 pm

    So glad to hear Rigby’s gone. I don’t know much about has been happening, but I do know that he was an awful administrator who had no guts or mind of his own. He was too afraid to speak up for what was right and ethical. He’s one of many that have been hurting the district. I have no respect for him and he deserved nothing but to get fired.

  11. Dana DesJardins on December 12th, 2018 7:21 am

    Mark Rigby’s door was always open, and his integrity was matched only by his compassion. If he said he would do something, he did it — no excuses. He is a math guy who quotes Shakespeare, a leader and a champion. I cannot fathom how NW could let him go. Mark, if you are reading this, thank you for everything you have done for Niles West students, staff, and community.

  12. Aimee Lee on December 12th, 2018 9:34 am

    I was Mr. Rigby’s student 20 years ago when he was a Math teacher. He was, by far, my favorite teacher of all time and I will always cherish his teaching, his army and West Point stories, his quotes he used to put up on the board, and his genuine caringness towards all his students. One of my favorite quotes from him is “Dance like no one is watching, sing like no one is listening, and live like its heaven on earth” 20 years later, I admire this man.

  13. Anonymous on December 12th, 2018 11:38 am

    Does/can anyone give more information on what has been happening before Mr. Rigby resigned? I feel like the staff, faculty, students, and even alums deserve an answer for the sudden decision! Since graduating from NW, it seems like administration has gone down hill and keeps going in that direction. We would like some answers!

  14. Ms. Chandarana on December 12th, 2018 2:15 pm

    OMG the day he ran over that SKUNK!!! Thanks for that memory! Imagine having to sit next to him in the office all weeeeeeek long… 🙂

  15. Kevin Plach on December 13th, 2018 3:09 pm

    Everyone knows that the school forced him to resign and they aren’t even gonna explain anything that happened to the students. This causes the students to spread several rumors about what happened with out even knowing the truth. The school needs to stop being so censored and just let the real news out.

  16. Dahlia Tamras on December 14th, 2018 2:12 pm

    This is just so sad! As a former alumni Mr. Rigby was the best math teacher, he was the best dean and became the best Assistant principal there could ever be. He is an amazing, funny, caring and out going man. He made a huge impact in my life at west, but he has impacted a lot of former and current students. Who know if Rigby was forced to leave, he needs to come back!!! BRING RIGBY BACK!!!!

  17. Disappointed. on December 16th, 2018 12:08 am

    Honestly? Disappointed. Disgusted. Students and parents NEED to know what’s going on. Ugh.

  18. Ariel on December 18th, 2018 11:34 am

    I was so sorry to hear this. Losing Rigby clear would have been difficult under any circumstances, but this bureaucratic nonsense is just a slap in the face. How can the only news of this be coming from the student paper? Talk about lack of transparency in an administration!
    My older sister had him for math and when I started at West, I remember her telling me that I just have to have Rigby as a teacher. Unfortunately, I never had Rigby as a teacher, or a Dean, but somehow he still knew me; he just had that kind of presence.

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