District 113A Board Removes President as Official Spokesperson
Board Member Lisa Wright will now serve as the spokesperson for the board in place of Board President Mike Aurelio.
The Lemont-Bromberek Combined School District 113A Board of Education voted during its special meeting Wednesday to remove the board president as the district's official spokesperson to the media.
Following a heated discussion, board members voted 4-3 to remove Board President Mike Aurelio as the district's spokesperson—a duty enumerated under District 113A Policy 2:110.
Board Vice President Dave Molitor, Board Secretary Cindy Kelly, and Board Members Lisa Wright and Kevin Doherty voted in favor of the motion, while Aurelio and Board Members Al Malley and Karen Siston voted against.
A motion was put forth by Kelly to nominate Wright as District 113A's new spokesperson. The motion was approved 4-2, with Aurelio and Siston voting no. Malley abstained from the vote.
Aurelio's responsibilities as the district's spokesperson came under fire Wednesday night after Wright questioned why he "forbade" District 113A Supt. Tim Ricker from issuing a press release on the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the district last December.
After the court ruling was made July 27, Aurelio informed Ricker via email that he felt it "was not in the board's best interest" to issue a press release regarding the lawsuit since it did not involve the majority of the board, Wright said.
Wright told Aurelio she and others thought it was appropriate to send out a press release because the lawsuit involved district business.
"The district was feeling a little bit of exoneration and relief of that burden, and you don't want that out there in the public domain," she said. "Why would that be?"
Aurelio said he offered his opinion on the matter—that sending a press release would not be in the board's best interest—but never directed Ricker to stop drafting anything.
"I don't give directives ... I said, 'I don't think it's in the board's best interest,'" Aurelio said. "That's not saying don't do it."
Aurelio, Malley and Siston all said they felt a press release would have been inappropriate because Wright wanted to address financial issues from the board's June 19 meeting, which are still unresolved.
Wright said her email was misunderstood, and that the only release she wanted prepared was regarding the dismissal of the lawsuit.
Ricker told the board he needs direction before issuing press releases, and at the time of the court ruling he received conflicting messages from the majority of the board and the board president.
"I'm just looking for direction," Ricker said. "We have a conflicted board on issue to issue, and I don't want to be put in the middle to decide whether I can do a press release or not do a press release on based on which four individuals (want the release written)."
Doherty said the district's failure to release information regarding the lawsuit was in violation of Board Policy 8:10, which states that the board shall maintain "an effective two-way communications system" between the district and the public that ensures "dissemination of accurate, timely information about school policies, programs, procedures and critical issues."
Molitor and Kelly agreed.
"That was wonderful news for the district, it should have gone out to the media and it didn't because of an email he sent to Dr. Ricker that was against our policy," Molitor said.
Aurelio said he felt the board's action was part of a personal vendetta.
"It's unfortunate, but not surprising that Lisa Wright, Kevin Doherty and Cindy Kelly would not want me as the district's official spokesperson," he said in an email Thursday morning. "I'm very focused on financial accountability within District 113A, with lowering class size, restoring bus service where possible and improving student achievement as my main goals."