D122 Board Chastises Members Broderick, Smith at Packed Meeting
NLSD122 board members attacked the legitimacy of a Jan. 11 hearing that resulted in removing incumbent Kathy Miller from the April ballot.
Since New Lenox School District 122 Board incumbent, Kathleen Miller, was kicked off the April ballot by a 2-1 vote of the Electoral Board that found her petition faulty due to a notary error, tempers have flared.
Seated Wednesday night before a packed room at the Haven Administration Center, Board President Nick DiSandro chastised the actions of Secretary Maureen Broderick for actions he deemed unprofessional. At a press conference Tuesday, he referred to her actions as "dirty" politics on a non-partisan board in an effort to remove Miller from the ballot.
At the press conference, he revealed that he had asked the Will County State's Attorney's Office to look into the matter and notified the Illinois State Board of Education as well as the Will County Regional Superintendent's Office.
The objection to Miller's petition was taken Jan. 11 before the District's Electoral Board, comprised of DiSandro, Vice President Sue Smith and Broderick. DiSandro was the only one to support Miller.
She didn't get a fair hearing on the objection against her petition, he said. At the hearing, the school district's attorney cited case law that pointed to similar objections citing clerical errors that ultimately got tossed out and the petitions stood.
He reiterated much of what he said in a Tuesday press conference at the administration center. Broderick reviewed the petitions of those who filed for the April 2013 school board election and filed objections to the documents turned in by Miller and Thomas Hottinger.
At the school board meeting, he further revealed that teachers from the district have made him aware that Broderick had sought a copy of an email that went out from union president Katie Kollross referencing Miller's hearing.
Then one-by-one, with the exception of Broderick and Smith, board members expressed their disappointment over the way the hearing and the events surrounding it have played out. Board members Debbie Kedzior, Bill Pender, Miller and Patrick Martino united in chastising Broderick. Kedzior said she was embarrassed by the board's actions this week.
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Miller, who announced that she had filed an appeal Wednesday with the Will County Circuit Court, said she was "overwhelmed by the support" of the community, family and friends after her uncontested seat for a two-year term on the board was jeopardized.
Broderick's response to the allegations was "I didn't," eliciting an audible groan from the crowd.
Smith's response to allegations that she too acted unprofessionally was short. "First off I did nothing unprofessional. I rendered my decision based on compliance."
Public comments at the meeting
Suzanne Koehmstedt, a teacher at Liberty Junior High School, parent and taxpayer, read a prepared statement. In it she said: "I'm concerned about the money spent on legal services regarding issues with the board. I would like to know if it's public knowledge how much we've spent in the past nine years. Many of the legalities seem to be for petty reasons which bring no real change to the situation, but bring much negative attention to our District."
She went on to question the expenses of the Jan. 11 hearing, including the fees for delivery of a summons and lawyers' fees.
"Consider what you use the board attorney for. If it's not necessary, use the money for the kids. Make this one of your budget cuts."
Jenifer Zimmerman, communications coordinator for the district, read aloud a written statement sent to the district, discussing what was characterized as "unprofessional" behavior and urging the board as a whole to move forward for the best interest of the community. The letter writer also noted that Miller's removal from the ballot would leave the district open to a possible unknown entity, a write-in candidate with no experience on the board.
Union President Katie Kollross also publically thanked DiSandro and District administrators for statements taken to stifle the kind of actions that brought the election to a boiling point.
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