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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 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 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 , 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."

Lee Ristow August 12, 2011 at 12:22 AM
Ditto and amen, Cathy
Doreen Stelton August 12, 2011 at 01:20 AM
It appears that the suit has been rejected by the judge as a criminal case and may now be a civil case. Citizens are still asking, "What happened to the money?" Shuttling money around NOW may be part of past problems. Did the judge make any statement about where the money went or why it was deemed to not be a criminal case but a civil case? As to the board action, it is the paper clipping- kangaroo court again, once made famous as a joke by the Tribune. Let every board member have their opinion. I believe that the new members are mainly interested in the education of their (and the community's) children and managing the money towards that purpose is their goal. They are especially qualified in the financial aspects. The Illinois Dept. of Education is in a mess and is no help. They say we are going to tell you what to do and this is it : Figure it out yourself. The money that you were supposed to get, the Feds did not send to us, so you won't get it, and the money from your taxpayers will be late. We don't send it on time. We will give you the rules. So you just figure it out. The board has a tough job.
Quizzical August 12, 2011 at 01:38 AM
Doreen, awesome comments and questions that keep us thinking. About the ISBE ( Ill State Board of Ed)- at least they are still advising us from Springfield and have not had to add members to our school board- Or maybe that would get some of the money questions/ mystery resolved for strangers to look at our books with an objective unmotivated eye??? Maybe they would keep the board member focused on work and not back stabbing?? Anyway- I'm still waiting for the "State Takeover" that Mr. Ricker, The Citizens for SD113A, and past and present Mayors of Lemont publicized as a reason for the citizens of Lemont to vote "yes" to the 20 million dollar tax increase. It's been how many months since the election and we haven't been taken over yet. How's THAT for honesty? Honestly- there are so many lies and propaganda that our school district/ village looks like a bad cable reality show. It's very embarrassing and degrading to taxpayers to be lied to about our money. The School District IS every tax payers money and we deserve to know where and how it is spent.
martin finn August 12, 2011 at 11:12 AM
Summer reading "How to keep no voters voting no!" by Lisa Wright. or "Political miscalculations: Stumbles that led to the unemployment line." by T Ricker
Lee Ristow August 12, 2011 at 03:07 PM
Hmmm, no funds were transferred? I'm not an accountant, but since all bills were paid (from the ed fund) and no checks have bounced would indicate to me that funds were transferred, at least that's how MY checking account works.
Bettye Curry August 12, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Well it seems that Lisa Wright has her way again. Why are they so worried that someone might hear the truth? This all for the children, then maybe they should all resign including Rickert and start over with people who want to work for the children and for the tax payers of this community.
Christine Balaty August 12, 2011 at 09:03 PM
In response to Cathy's last comment, I do not believe that the district lied about possible state take-over in the past; we were 24 hours from that happening when Lemont High School bailed the elementary district out. The only reason that hasn't happened since is because of the extremely deep cuts District 113A has made in the past two years. As a teacher at Old Quarry, the number of students I teach each day has doubled (from approximately 90 to approximately 180 last year), over 50 certified teachers have been fired as part of a "reduction in force", class sizes have gone up from 25-30 to over 40 (I had one class of 43 eighth graders last year in a classroom built to house 25), and my classroom is cleaned once every 7 school days. THESE are the reason the state hasn't taken over. The ones who are suffering for these cuts are our children. Things could be much different and much better for our kids had the referendum been passed. What we have now is certainly not optimal or ideal. It is truly sad that some believe that what we have now is OK and feel vindicated in having voted no to the referendum. When I speak with friends outside of Lemont, no one can believe that a community would ever vote no to a referendum for the ed fund; as one friend said, "That IS your property value!" More than that, it is your children's future. However, this community votes no to education whenever an increase to the ed fund is suggested. What does this imply?
Quizzical August 12, 2011 at 09:45 PM
Chris, thanks for your reply. I will stand by my view about the ISBE "takeover" scare. I had researched this at the time of elections so I would be completely informed and found there is no "takeover" but rather- the ISBE would have assigned a Financial Oversight Panel (FOP) to sit on the school board with whomever is elected to be board members. Fully elected school board members + 3 state assigned FOP members. I guess I would like to say that the people declaring the "takeover" should have used correct verbiage about the FOP placement- instead their claims were clear that the State would come in take over our school board and change everything. I take this knowledge from all their information dispersed via ads on the Patch , 4x6 color mailed postcards that came to my home, & phone calls to my home- All were clear that IF we didn't get the referendum passed that state would takeover. SO- these people were hanging the fate of our entire district on the referendum- if we could have stayed out of trouble by making cuts- why didn't they do it in the first place? The referendum information also stated 2 other school districts that were "taken over" they were not- they had FOP assigned- after a few years of a FOP- Both districts are currently out of debt. running out of room will add another post
Quizzical August 12, 2011 at 10:09 PM
I understand that the classroom sizes are too large . I lived in Darien that had school in financial state much like ours. In my family's decision to relocate- I thought I was moving to a town with financial health- But apparently- that wasn't the case- Even despite the SD 113A financial reports on the ISBE website- that was an error or something. So for me- I'm reliving this for the 2nd time.My children have and still receive an excellent education in Lemont. Much of their success stems from my husband and I starting out with teaching the 3R's from an early age so when school age- trained teachers could take it from there. To comment on your classroom state- No room should be cleaned only once a week- I thought we had custodial staff? Maybe the board should be looking at people's job performance and decide who needs to stay or go based on performance. In essence-It's really time for truth about our financials-the people responsible for this problem should just be adults and say why they got us into trouble. Mostly we need to get support for the teachers and give our kids a good education. If I offend anyone- I'm sorry- I'm just saying what people are thinking and talking about in quiet little circles, but never louder for fear of being ostracized if they say something publicly.
Susan Antonoff August 12, 2011 at 11:06 PM
District 113A custodial staff members are working their tails off. They too are working under difficult working conditions after custodial and maintenance staff reductions. A human being can only do what a human being can.
Christine Balaty August 12, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Exactly, Sue. Cathy, you seem to have missed the point of my comments. Those cuts had to be made because the public chose not to continue the quality of education and facilities they had enjoyed up until that point. The district was forced by the community to fire teachers and custodial staff and close a buiding because the referendum did not pass. The quality of education that your children enjoyed in district 113A in the past are no longer possible with so many kids in each classroom due to fewer teachers - cut because of reductions in staff. We have lost so many incredible young teachers because we can't afford them. We can't afford them because the community of Lemont voted to have it this way. So many parents tried to help community members understand the importance of funding eduction by working their tails off to help the referendum pass. To me, it's just semantics, not scare tactics. The take over they spoke of is exactly what you are speaking of - a financial oversight panel (FOP). Community members who want to retain local control of their own schools should be against a financial oversight panel because it would limit the freedom of the community to make their own decisions - in essence tie their hands. Instead, the school board's hands were tied anyway because they were not funded by the community to make all of the improvements Mr. Aurelio speaks of - like lowering class size and improving student achievement.
Christine Balaty August 12, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Continuing the comments above... The same people who voted no to the referendum are supporting Mr. Aurelio - but you can't have it both ways. You can't hire teachers with no money, thus you cannot bring down class sizes without a referendum. We not only couldn't hire teachers, we had to fire the ones we had because we couldn't afford to keep them. I hardly think this is a victory for anyone.
Lee Ristow August 13, 2011 at 12:33 AM
"The same people who voted no to the referendum are supporting Mr. Aurelio"--that's not true, I supported and still support Mr. Aurelio AND I voted yes on the referendum and so did many other of his supporters. What we wanted was a CHANGE in the board and the direction it would take. Unfortunately, the "four" are preventing that.
Susan Antonoff August 13, 2011 at 01:18 AM
Martin, to think that last year I invited you to sit at a table with me and make you feel welcome with others. You continue to be sarcastic and derogatory to people you don't even know. I would have thought you to tone town after your last comments were removed from the Patch. But, I can see this is who you choose to be.
Dan Lipowski August 13, 2011 at 01:37 AM
The "four" you are talking about Mr. Ristow, are two new board members, and two incumbents. It's absolutley astonishing to see people look at only one side of this, or any other board issue. When are we going to stop trying to create villians, and start solving our problems?
Quizzical August 13, 2011 at 01:50 AM
The FOP does not take authority away from any school board they are just overseers. Anyone can see this at the ISBE website as they list the FOP role. I don't talk about things unless I have researched to the nth degree. Mike Aurelio stated when he campaigned that normally he would not support a referendum but did in this one. I did not agree with him on this point. Yet, I also supported another candidate that is a staunch supporter of the referendum. I voted for them based on their character and knowing them to desire to do the right thing for the kids, teachers & parents. Chris- you were one of my daughter's favorite teachers- it's sad that you and the other teachers will be so overly stressed and overworked. It's sad that great teachers had to be laid off. But truthfully I did not cause this to happen- the failure of the referendum did not cause this to happen. The board members and administrators that caused the district's financial nightmare DID. Let's put the blame on the proper people. On personal note- I would be happy to help ease your burden by coming to school 1 day a week . I will make copies, clean your classroom- anything non student or if that will help you stay focused on teaching the kids. I'm serious- take me up on the offer- or any of your peers- I'd like to be a positive support.
pat hooper August 13, 2011 at 01:51 AM
I wouldn't generalize. I supported both Mr Aurelio AND the referendum.
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:34 AM
Cathy Kapiesiuk, you seem to have a lot of information on a Financial Oversight Panel. However, can you in return explain a School Finance Authority? I believe from what I understand on the ISBE website a school district like Round Lake was on a SFA which Lemont would have headed to as well. You should research their last 10 years of test scores, property value, taxes, etc. From mailings and emails I received, I clearly understood that had Lemont High School not bailed out 113A's TAWs, since no bank (promised by some new board elects-) would, 113A would have hit a SFA not the FOP you keep making us read about. So Cathy what are you asking? I turn the question around to you and ask why would some board members in their campaign "promises" swear the district had banks to take care of the TAW's. I mean really we had to go to 210 after board members promised we wouldn't. That is disappointing. And truly do you even remember who you supported in the Board election for 113A? From what I'm reading of your comments and past emails, people in 113 stay away from this "volunteer".
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:43 AM
Martin should be banned from ever saying anything on the Patch after his disgusting comments about the death of a child!
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:48 AM
Cathy, another thing. What is the "nth degree".
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:54 AM
Ristow and Hooper, do you support the teachers or do you support the witch hunt?
Paul Hackiewicz August 13, 2011 at 02:56 AM
Ms. Balaty, Very clearly and rationally stated. Thank you. It does seem like there is some difference in the reporting of the events that took place on the Patch and in the Lemont Reporter. I will withhold making any judgements about the nature of the events that took place until I can video of the meeting, or at least the minutes, with two exceptions: 1) exoneration of individual board members from criminal charges related to their duties as board members is huge news to every taxpayer in the district, and 2) to say that he didn't tell Dr. Ricker not to put out a press release is very weak leadership on the part of Mike Aurelio. This is not what I expected from a person who at the Junior Women's Club forum talked about responsibility, and moving forward, and making things better for the children. Personally, I am very disappointed. We shouldn't need a lawyer to interpret the board presidents directives.
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:58 AM
It's a tough side to choose depending on who you back...
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Who is the witch hunt looking for?
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 03:06 AM
Mr. Aurelio received his official transcripts from recent 113 meetings from Laura Reigle's video tapes. He will be able to answer questions based on that.
Joanie Bradford August 13, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Marin, you make me sick! I'm surprised you are not making fun of a child dying like your last post!
Susan Antonoff August 13, 2011 at 04:52 AM
Thank you, Mr. Hackiewicz. I admire your reserve and responsibility. Yes, there are differences reported and judgements need to be withheld. It is always an easier route to twist information to satisfy one's agenda. This is why I respect the district's decision to comment on the lawsuit filed by Hughes, Emery, Reigle, and Bradley after a judge dismissed the charges. It was an official decision outside local influences. Yes, I think it is district newsworthy and appropriate for the press release from the district.
Christine Balaty August 13, 2011 at 05:23 AM
Thank you, Cathy and Paul. In all, I think the focus must return to the children rather than as one person posting said, trying to find "gotcha moments" to contradict the other "side", whomever that may be. It has saddened me to watch a model middle school and a great district dismantled piece by piece. What I can attest to is the passion of our staff. In a few days, the children of Lemont will return to school and we will do our absolute best to meet their needs. We need to keep our eye on the ball - the children - accept where we are (rather than rehashing the past), and make the future better. I'm the words of Patrick Henry, "United we stand. Divided we fall." The fighting gets us nowhere.
Quizzical August 13, 2011 at 01:15 PM
Joanie, thank you for your questions. And thank you for reminding me of Round Lake- the other town was Hazel Crest- I had forgottent theri names. If you would like to go to www.isbe.net/finance scroll down to Financial Oversight Panel and School Finance Authority heading click on the Hazel Crest School Finance Authority Or Round lake. Once there click on:.For RoundLake click on:Finance Authority Press release Augst 21, 2002, or Hazel Crest 12-09-02 Establishment of School Finance Authority. You can read the deailts for yourself. These SFA was not added until AFTER an oversith panel was assigned to the school district- Is or was Lemont every at the FOP point? no- so I did not need to even talk about the SFA because it had no relevance in the conversation. My vote is private but I am not ashamed to say-; Mike Aurelio, Al Malley, Cindy Kelly, and Janet Hughes. I fel, based on personally meeting each person- going to debates and hearing them talk and bring facts to theis conpaign- I could make a good decision on who would look after our school. Nth degree means I spent copious amounts of time researching and learning information and facts rather than mocking or belittling people. Hope this answers your questions. On your comment on my ability to be a good volunteer. You don't even know me - how can you judge my character ? Thankfully my identity and value is not created or shaped by the thoughts or opinions of man. Have a great weekend.
Amy Glaser August 15, 2011 at 08:20 PM
The dismissed lawsuit was filed against currnt and past board members, the superintendent, asst superintendent, former business mgr, past auditor. What’s the real reason you didn’t want to issue a press release Mr, Aurellio? Why are you getting any information from Mrs. Reigle? She was one of the plantiffs in the dismissed lawsuit. Why are you protecting the plaintiffs, is it because Mrs. Reigle is now providing you with info you are using at meetings. Does positive news go against your own agenda which appears to be promote negative feelings about district administration and certain board members? At the next board meeting the board president must do the following: 1. Tell the truth as to his reasoning for not wanting to announce the lawsuit’s dismissal. 2. Tell why he went to the press and stated that laws were broken recently. If that’s a true statement present your evidence, if that was untrue that state you were wrong. 3. Start acting in the best interest of the district and its students and stop trying to protect the interests of plaintiffs in a dismissed lawsuit and your own personal agenda. 4. Get control of the meetings they are turning into a joke on your watch. Direct constructive board discussions and stop pandering to the audience. The outbursts from the audience that you have allowed are childish and look just as bad for you as they do for those people who can’t control themselves. 5. Stop being the negative distraction that you have become.

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