The District 209 Board of Education will present its plans to comply with demands from the Cook County Regional Office of Education that the district hire a superintendent whose qualifications meet state standards at a meeting on Monday, August 22.
Current Interim Superintendent Robert Libka does not have the state’s superintendent’s endorsement, which is required to serve as a superintendent, even on an interim basis, under the Illinois school code.
Neither Libka nor Board President Chris Welch would explicitly confirm that the board would vote to hire a new superintendent, but both said that the district will comply with the demands of Regional Superintendent Robert Ingraffia, who has repeatedly stated that Libka must step down.
“We’ve had several meetings with Mr. Ingraffia…we believe we have a full understanding of what he required and we’ll be complying,” said Libka.
“I will present my recommendation to the board at the next meeting,” he said.
The meeting now set for the 22nd was originally scheduled for August 15, but was postponed because several board members would be unable to attend.
Board minority members Charles Flowers, Theresa Kelly and Gary Marine all said they were able to attend, leading them to question why all four majority board members apparently could not attend a regularly scheduled meeting on the same day. In order for a meeting to have a quorum and be permitted to proceed under the Open Meetings Act, only four of the seven board members would have had to attend.
Kelly and Flowers both speculated that in truth, only one member could not attend, leading Welch to push for the meetings postponement so that he would have enough votes to pass his agenda.
Libka said that the superintendent issue would have been on the agenda had the meeting been held on the 15th, but denied that this was related to the postponement.
Welch said that one board member had taken their daughter to college, while another was away on a family vacation. He did not specify why he could not attend, but said he had other obligations.
He said that he had only missed one board meeting since joining the board in 2001, while Kelly, Marine and Flowers had all missed numerous meetings.
“It’s OK and permissible to change a meeting date…this is nonsense, this is politics” he said of the criticism from the board minority.
“I’m sick and tired of all the politics,” he said. “If you’re not going to talk about the education of these kids, I’m not going to talk to the Forest Park Review…and I’m telling you that so you can print it.”