The following article appeared in the Daily Southtown and on the Student's First website on April 13th. We at CRAFT are glad to see the press covering this story. We have had complaints of this happening from taxpayers and board members in school districts across the state.
President to rest of board: 'Keep quiet'
4/13/2006 By Michael Drakulich Daily Southtown
Monday's meeting of the Orland District 135 school board erupted into a shouting match several times after the board president tried to prevent opposing board members from making comments.
Early in the meeting, board president John Paul admonished some board members for publicly embarrassing outgoing Supt. Linda Anast-May and hinted that they tried to hurt the district's chances of hiring a new superintendent.
So, he's not letting them talk. For Monday's meeting, Paul removed a section of the agenda that allowed for board member comments.
In his speech, Paul did not name any board member but his comments appeared to be aimed at Kathy Svabek and Suzanne Cachey, who've clashed with the board majority and at the March 9 meeting revealed that Cook County prosecutors had requested a copy of Anast-May's contract.
Because the state's attorney's request was made in October, Paul questioned the timing of Cachey and Svabek's comments, saying it nearly ruined the district's chances of attracting qualified candidates to replace Anast-May.
"Do you realize how close we came to blowing this? Do you realize how close we came, with all this garbage that was written about this district? The fact (is) that we could have ended up in a situation where we wouldn't have had any candidates to choose from. Thank God, we were lucky there," Paul said.
When they tried to speak, Paul repeatedly interrupted Cachey, Svabek and board member Tom Cunningham.
But Cunningham managed to voice some criticism of Paul, saying Paul had "sandbagged" other board member's attempts to rebut his comments and accusing Paul of often withholding information from board members.
"This is insane. Too many times I've come to the table here and not known a thing about what we're voting on," Cunningham said.
Cunningham, Svabek and Cachey all asked for the portion of the agenda allowing board member comments to be reinstated, but Paul refused, telling the three that "when you know how to use (it), we will put (it) back in."
Svabek said Tuesday that she was not surprised by Paul's attempts to prevent the three board members from speaking.
"Unfortunately, for the past year with him as president, it's been common practice," she said. "It (Monday) was one of the most sophomoric displays of bullying by a school board member I've seen."
The growing division within the District 135 board prompted former board member Priscilla Galgan to read a prepared statement Monday, saying she was disappointed by the board's recent behavior and urged members to start behaving better toward each other.
"The business of educating these children is the community's business and should be conducted in front of the community," Galgan said. "The board should give the community a voice. Your work should be transparent, professional and above reproach."
She thanked Cachey and Svabek for "attempting to keep the board's actions legal and public. They are working in the public's best interest while trying to do what's best for our children."