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‘Morton band isn’t Morton band without Jeff Neavor’ – Students speak out against Morton School Board reassigning marching band director

After 18 years as the Morton band director, Jeff Neavor, with 14 state championships under his belt, faces reassignment by the school board.

The school board claims it’s because of a personal relationship he had with a former employee, one they’ve labeled as inappropriate. But his supporters and the teachers union are putting up a fight.

Emotions were apparent of the faces of those who packed the Morton School Board meeting as they finally heard why the school board said it was looking to reassign their long time director.

“Over this past year he engaged in an inappropriate personal relationship with a female employee whom he had supervisory responsibility.” said a school board member.

Students and their parents gathered to show support for Jeff Neavor who they said made Morton band a place they could feel accepted.

“The first thing I really loved about Morton band, you know when I became a member of it in high school was they always told us they loved us. They made it a priority to let us know they cared about us, not just about how well we played or how well we marched.” said Lauren Wiggins, a senior band member.

While the band has been very successful under Neavor’s leadership, winning the Sudler Shield, the highest honor a high school marching band can receive, students said it was about so much more.

“Not to win, not to win trophies, not to really do any of that. It’s just to get better and to feel good while we do it.” said Colin Winlekmann, a senior band member.

Band members said he created a home for those looking for their place in high school.

“He’s made this band a really great environment and a really nice family that we all have here and I feel like I’ve made so many friends because of his leadership.” said Terra Burmood a band member at the board meeting.

Disheartened by the news, they packed the school board meeting, speaking out, hoping to make a difference.

Lauren Wiggins said, “I mean Morton band isn’t Morton band without Jeff Neavor. Just everything he does. He’s put so much time and work, just dedicated his life to this program.”

The President of the Morton Teachers Association, Tony Fleccia,  released a statement about the ordeal, in it he said: “The Morton school district passed judgment on Mr. Jeff Neavor and unjustly demoted him based on nothing more than salacious gossip and rumors related to Mr. Neavor’s marital status.”

We reached out to the superintendent for comment but did not hear back.

It is unclear if the outpouring of support will be enough to change the board’s decision.

Kaitlin Pearson

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