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Both the Forest Park Review and Claudia Medina, a District 209 school board member, take a pounding this week in a letter to the editor from Rodney Alexander, president of the Proviso Township High Schools board.

Pound away, Mr. Alexander. But your efforts to concoct some sort of conspiracy between the Review and Medina are far-fetched and incorrect. Calling our reporting “fake news” puts a stain on you considering the destructive mouth who has made that phrase infamous.

You might not like the series of controversies spooling out of the district during this complex moment of COVID-19 and the overtly aggressive way that Supt. James Henderson has chosen to introduce himself to his faculty and the community.

Go ahead and say that Medina is “the voice behind the divisive rhetoric that has been drummed up in the media concerning our new superintendent.” Certainly Medina, a Forest Parker, has a clear voice. We’ve been listening to it since 2015 when she, as part of the progressive 209Together slate came to this district’s rescue. We listen to all elected officials.

But what is driving our coverage is reporting on your board’s public meetings and the stories which come out of those meetings.

  • On Oct. 27 we reported on a former employee hiring an attorney after being fired. That story came out of the board’s Oct. 13 meeting. Medina’s comments during the public meeting were quoted in the article as was an official statement from the district.
  • An Oct. 20 article reported on the teachers’ union filing a grievance against the district for forcing them back into the classrooms. The press release was sent directly to the Review from the media director of the Illinois Federation of Teachers. We reached out to the district for a response and printed what was provided. Medina was not consulted nor was she mentioned in this article.
  • An Oct. 18 article out of the Oct. 13 board meeting reported on teachers asking not to be required to return to the classrooms. During this meeting, dozens of teacher comments were read. The Review quoted a few. The Review also quoted Henderson’s comments made during the meeting. Medina was not mentioned.

The accusation of fake news from a school board president is serious. It means we’re lying. Twisting the truth. Making things up.

It is not fake news that the teachers’ union filed a grievance against the district, nor is it fake news that a former employee has sought legal counsel. Those things really happened. The September story we wrote about the amazing automotive program at Proviso East isn’t fake news either. That’s really happening too.

Alexander says the board “must trust the decision we made” by hiring Henderson. Perhaps. That’s between you and your fellow board members.  

Media, however, isn’t in the business of trusting one group or another. Our job is to observe and report. That’s why we will be watching every step of the way, every decision made. We will report on finances and new hires and terminations. We will write stories about the amazing things going on in the district as well as the challenges facing it. We will reach out to the district and the board to inform the community about developments within D209.  That’s what we do.