D135 Board Member Calls for President to Step Down

Orland School District 135 board member Mary Bragg called for president John Carmody to leave the board, citing a violation of board policy about conversations between board members.

Orland School District 135 Board Member Mary Bragg called for Board President John Carmody to resign at the Nov. 12 meeting, claiming he violated a board policy about communication between board members.

The District 135 board narrowed down its list of candidates for a permanent superintendent after a series of interviews recently. Though not all members have been included on conversations about the candidates, according to Bragg.

“Too many times we have walked into public meetings without the proper information to be prepared for the meeting discussion,” Bragg said. “The board president is responsible for making sure all members are all informed. He doesn’t keep all board members informed. He calls his quorum buddies on the board and doesn’t follow up and inform the rest of us.”

Bragg cited D135 board policy 137, which prohibits use of email by a majority quorum to conduct board business. She said the conversations about the superintendent search, where she and other members were left out, begun in October. She also cited the board’s oath, recited after a new member is elected.

Bragg called for a meeting to bring all board members on the same page about the superintendent search, and was denied it, she said.

“John Carmody has violated his authority in the position as president of the school board,” Bragg said. “Any time we can request a meeting to be called. He refused to call the meeting, and wrote in an email that I was a bully and a bore, and he’ll make sure to remember to help me not get re-elected.”

Carmody declined to respond to Bragg’s insistence that he resign. He deferred to board vice president Ann Gentile, who serves as community relations liaison for the board, and she had no comment on the matter.

Tax Levy Increase Passed

The D135 board voted in favor of a 3 percent tax levy increase for the next fiscal year, with five votes in favor and member Joe LaMargo was the single vote against. Board member Lynne Donegan was unable to attend the meeting.

The 3 percent increase was put in to account for the most recent teacher’s contract, agreed upon after months-long deliberation between the teacher’s union and school district, according to staff. D135 teachers’ cost of living increases are tied to the Consumer Price Index, which sets a cap of how much a school district can increase a tax levy each year. The CPI for the next fiscal year is 3 percent.

LaMargo said that he was silenced during the Nov. 12 meeting when trying to ask questions about the possibility of lowering the levy. He has spoken against the levy before, saying district taxpayers are already paying enough in taxes.

“What I was disappointed about is that not so much that they increase the levy with that much sitting in the bank,” LaMargo said. “I was trying to have a professional open discussion so I can get these questions of mine answered. And I wanted the board members to hear that a 1.5 percent levy could be made.”

Board member Tom Cunningham said every opportunity was available for questions to be asked at the meeting.

“You get what you pay for in life,” Cunningham said about the levy increase. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say we have to support the teachers, and come back 10 months later and say you can’t put it back on taxpayers.”

District 135 Asst. Supr. of Business Services John Reiniche said the board could have passed a lower tax levy, but a factor in Cook County’s finance system called “loss and cause” would have set the levy with a 3 percent increase regardless of the board’s decision.

“We could have levied lower, but the board felt it was disingenuous to the community in saying we’re going to a zero percent or a lesser amount, though the county would go up 3 percent,” Reiniche said. “The board wanted to be transparent, and to honor the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union.”

All other motions at the Nov. 12 meeting passed with a 6-0 vote.

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Regina Knapp November 20, 2012 at 12:53 PM
This isn't the first time a board member has expressed this sentiment about Mr. Carmody.
Carol November 20, 2012 at 02:08 PM
I dont know about any one else but taxes are killing me in this economy. Taxing has gotten way out of hand, find the money some where else, we can't do it any more.
Andrea Williams November 20, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Melanie Walsh fiasco, bungled union negotiations, unnecessary tax grabs, policy violations, and boggled superintendent selection...I wouldn't hire these sophmoric "cool kids" (Carmody, Gentile, Cunningham, and Zekich) to mow my lawn. See you in April....
paul cervenka November 20, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Wake up people. Enrollments down and costs up! Our trustees are NOT representing taxpayers at all. Think different? Prove it. We need candidates to run that will destroy this lavish patronage scheme that is sucking millions from our local economy every year. You will be financially crushed by their needless spending.
Bob November 20, 2012 at 03:33 PM
This unfortuantely is all too common. "Rogue" school board members have actually been forced to get information from the administration by FOIA in many districts, and often have been refused vital info necessary to have them make infromed decisions. The bigger question here is what "clandestine" plan is being hatched in 135. I've followed superintendent hiring practices for decades now, and found the following patterns: 1) Superintendent is more of political position than a managerial or technical one. Essentially, a Super will get outrageous coompensation and benefits so long as they hire the people qand vendors with the "right" political connections and don't have any scandals come up during their tenure. 2) From a fiscal standpoint, a Super's job is NOT to manage the district as effeiceintly as possible. It's to ensure that revenues are maximized and all the revenues are spent in the most politically beneficial manner. The "soccer moms" and "boosters" must be fed with funds and rewarded with those those clerical and "assistant" jobs that make them campaign supporters. 3) Quality of academic services is irrelevant as long as the soccer moms are properly coddled and told continuously how smart and wonderful their kids are. Dropping test scores and program effectiveness is rarely a concern of the parents who vote. When was the last time you heard of a Super or principal being fired because of declining, or underperforming, academic results?LOL
Bob November 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM
It seems there's a battle going on in 135 regarding whether a Super will be picked who will serve the selfish interests of the union (Mary Bragg is a public teacher union member who unbelievably negotiated the teacher contract for the Board in 135) and those who want to control the Super for political hiring and contracting purposes. Too bad it doesn't seem there's anybody on the Board whose main purpose is choosing the the best Super to reduce spending due to the "rapidly declining enrollment" dividend and improve what seems to be underperforming academic performance in 135 compared to demographically similar districts in the Western suburbs.
J Kennedy November 20, 2012 at 04:20 PM
The pompous grandstanding, and the egos of this board never cease to amaze me. With that being said, it appears Mr. Carmody has no control over his board. People wouldn't behave in this manner if they were respected, whether you disagree with them or not. Ideally it should be a respectful open dialogue, not supression, no matter how passionate you are about a subject. I wouldn't be surprised if his threats, bullying, and temper have cost him personally, and professionally. Maybe he should step aside, or step down, get his act together, re-evaluate his life, and put his priorities in order. Let's hope his priorities don't include 135. The children deserve so much better than this.
John Paul November 20, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Bob, I've served on this school board with Mary Bragg and I never had any reason to believe that she was there to represent the interests of the union. Mary, along with Lynn Donegan and Joe LaMargo have done a good job of representing the interests of the district, as a whole, not just the soccer moms and teachers unions. Unfortunately, I can't say that for the board majority.
Thunderstorm November 20, 2012 at 06:54 PM
At one time Mary was the majority and now the tables are turned, she doesn't like it. That being said, I do agree with her this time. The four majority leaders (ha ha) must go. John Paul, you too, were also in the majority when you were president. I recall your speech went something like -- if you're not with me, you are against me. You also tried not to let others speak. Ask Sue Cachey and Kathie Svabek and Tom Cunningham.
Thunderstorm November 20, 2012 at 06:55 PM
He is only worried about his ball fields and St. Mike's taxpayers.
jean meagher November 20, 2012 at 07:24 PM
This new fight reminds me of our divided board a few years back when personal threats were aimed at certain members who wouldn't "go along". This must stop. Every member of the board should be there working for the interests of our children, not themselves. Maybe it's time for an entire new board along with a new superintendant.
laura November 20, 2012 at 08:31 PM
RE: "...working for the interests of our children, not themselves." Good idea & agreed!
lindaburg November 20, 2012 at 11:56 PM
What an embarrassment the school board is for District 135 - AGAIN. Yes, John Paul, I’m referring to when YOU were on the board. Name calling, bulling, violating policy, firing qualified people to hire their friends/family, a bungled superintendent search. Shame on all of you! These are the people that are “guiding” the education of the children of Orland Park? (I think we’re in trouble folks!) From what I have seen over the last several years is that Mary Bragg is the ONLY one on that board that has no agenda – well if you don’t count her advocacy for the music program! Mary Bragg should file a complaint with the school board association. The others that are going along with this kind of behavior should resign. Maybe we can get some people on the board that is interested in the CHILDREN – people that are willing to work together for the betterment of the district – not their own personal egos and agendas. The sad truth is that these are the people that will be hiring the next superintendent. Let’s hope they find someone that has good morals and leadership qualities and is interested in the CHILDREN. Things that it seems this board are woefully missing. Then - let’s hope that person is willing to work with this dysfunctional group. Again - I think we’re in trouble folks!
Kathy Quilty November 21, 2012 at 01:11 AM
lindaburg -- have you thought of running for school board? It is very easy to sit back and criticize everyone else, but so many will not step up to the plate. I do not agree whatsoever of what is going on, but to those who are complaining, are you willing to run for office? The problem that I have seen is that so few people will research who is running and so few actually go out and vote in these types of elections. The voters need to step up and either run and/or get out and VOTE!!!!
Steven Williams November 21, 2012 at 02:15 AM
"Every member of the board should be there working for the interests of our children, not themselves." I agree with you. Every taxpayer needs to get educated on who is running in April! I understand the teacher's union has a slate of candidates. There's no way a 4 person majority hand-picked by the union is going to represent the interests of the children over their ordainers.
John Paul November 21, 2012 at 02:18 AM
"Thunderstorm?", how can any school board president not let others speak? Did I ever cut off a microphone? Did I ever threaten anyone? I know Cunningham and his political allies, along with the cub reporter from the, now deservedly defunct Star, tried to accuse me of doing that, but it doesn't make it true. Of course, if you're not with anyone then you're against them. Is there any other way?
John Paul November 21, 2012 at 02:22 AM
"lindaburg?", What names did I call people? Who did I bully? Who was fired so that someone could be hired??? A bungled superintendent search??? Are you high? Hiring Dennis Soustek was one of the best things we ever did in that district.
ljg November 21, 2012 at 02:43 AM
Why stop at the board and superintendent. How about going after the puppet master!
ljg November 21, 2012 at 02:51 AM
John, did you type that last sentence with a straight face? If that is your claim to fame I would not be bragging about it. Dishonest and disingenuous as the day is long. Is loyal only to himself. He is still sucking in tax dollars as a high paid resume reader.
ljg November 21, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Cunningham please be serious. You negotiated the contract. The tax levy and the contract are two separate issues. The district has more than enough money in reserve to cover the contract. It sounds like you are just throwing the teachers under the bus. Only Joe LaMargo was willing to discuss in an adult way a lower levy amount. Not any other board member.
Jennilin November 21, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Good for you, Mary Bragg, good for you. I am glad that someone is trying to stand up for what is right. If that means it gets a little ugly, then so be it. The board majority has been acting autonomously for too long and they have cut themselves off from the community that elected them in the first place. Best case scenario: the "Fab Four" gets a wake up call in April and Carmody takes Bragg's advice and steps down. Let's hope for something better in the future.
lindaburg November 21, 2012 at 05:33 AM
John Paul-I didn't say you called people names. I said the board that you were on was an embarrassment. THIS board seems to bully each other. THIS board demoted a secretary to hire a friend. THIS board seems to be bungling the superintendent search. Get over yourself. I am not “high”; I’m tired of school board members (it seems past and present) thinking it’s all about them (their egos and agendas) and not the CHILDREN! I agree with you that hiring Dennis Soustek was the best things “you” ever did for the district. I only hope THIS board can find and hire someone that truly cares about the CHILDREN – like Mr. Soustek did. Unfortunately, based on their past behavior – I think we’re in trouble!
John Paul November 21, 2012 at 12:18 PM
lindaburg, we may be on the same page to an extent. Here's the thing that's difficult; if the board argues with each other, they're called "dysfunctional" or "an embarassment". If they get along, they're criticized for being a "rubber stamp". By the way, hiring Mr. Soustek wasn't the best thing "I" ever did, it was the best thing WE ever did. All 7 of us in spite of our political differences made that happen.
Bob November 21, 2012 at 06:35 PM
BTW, John, what's behind the decline and underachievement in 135 concerning the alternate assessment kids and the high end "exceeds standards" performance? The IAA scores in the report card are WELL below state average (http://webprod.isbe.net/ereportcard/publicsite/getReport.aspx?year=2012&code=070161350_e.pdf) and the percentage of kids exceeding standards in the last year of testing (7th grade) is not good, considering that only 13% of the kids in 135 are low income and the state average to which they are compared is about 50% low income. Is that number showing that 7th gr "exceeds standards" for reading is only 8.3% compared to a state average of 26.3% accurate? It seems kids come in extremely well prepared early, with third graders having an "exceeds standards" percentage 22 points ahead of the state in math, but that difference halved by 7th grade. Seems there's a "value added" issue.
Bob November 21, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Check out what they're accomplishing in Indian Prairie 204 (the Southern "Will County" section of Naperville and Aurora, not the "rich" Du Page side) with lower teacher salaries, lower paid and less administration, a higher percentage of low income students and lower overall spending than 135 (http://webprod.isbe.net/ereportcard/publicsite/getReport.aspx?year=2012&code=190222040_e.pdf). I'd love to see Palos and Orland schools hire and elect the kind of leadership that's made that district such a success. Unfortunately for our kids and taxpayers, they get the quality of education and efficiency that the voters in the district deserve. They get average ACTs of over 24, and we get PR failures like "S4", common planning periods, overadministration that result in NO improvement and student performance a couple ACT points lower. Kathy Quilty, if you're out there, when will you be coming out and explaining to the student's families why we didn't increase ACT scores at all despite massive "investment" in instructional improvement, teacher salaries, S4, bloated administration, and shallow and ineffective "improvement plans" since you've been on the board? You're old excuse of blaming the feeder schools like 135 is getting a bit thin.
Thunderstorm November 22, 2012 at 06:52 PM
JP -- If I recall, Mrs. Cachey asked you to resign also in about June 2006. It seems like you and John Carmody have several things in common.
Thunderstorm November 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Look what I found from June 2006. This was from the SouthtownStar. Ending school board rift Thursday, June 22, 2006 Orland School District 135 school board president John Paul last week rejected a call for his resignation from fellow board members Suzanne Cachey and Kathleen Svabek. But Paul — who has been at the center of controversy for much of this year — also vowed to improve relations on the board. He even admitted to making past mistakes. The Star, in recent months, has commented on Paul's sometimes ham-handed style, such as when he verbally attacked board members, then refused to allow them to respond to his verbal barrage. So it is good news that he says he's going to turn over a new leaf. District 135 residents are ill-served when members of their school board are constantly at odds with one another — and when the board president appears to be one reason for the rift. Cachey, who last week offered a stinging denunciation of Paul during her call for his resignation, says Paul needs to provide accurate information to all board members and to keep communication channels open. She said late last week that she's pleased that Paul has agreed to the board having a self-evaluation and goal-setting session with an independent mediator. Cachey has been calling for such mediation for a year.
Thunderstorm November 22, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Part 2 School board members learned at last week's meeting that some sort of malfunction prevented the taping of closed-door executive sessions on Nov. 14 and Jan. 30. Under state law, such closed-door sessions are to be recorded. The Jan. 30 executive session was called so that board members could discuss the qualifications for a new superintendent. Under state law, closed sessions can be called to discuss hiring or firing, pending litigation, the purchase of property and few other very specific items. Cachey and Svabek did not attend the closed-door meeting because they believed it was not a permissible session under the Illinois Open Meetings Act. Attorney General Lisa Madigan later ruled that it was not a proper meeting and that the Jan. 30 minutes should be released immediately; Paul, however, did not immediately inform all board members of that violation of state law. Again, we are glad that Paul is pledging to improve board relations in District 135. There is certainly room for improvement and we're certain none of the existing board members countenance having an illegal meeting. However, if matters don't improve, voters will have their say on this school board in next spring's election — when Paul's seat is up and he may run for another term.
John Paul November 23, 2012 at 02:13 PM
First of all, anyone can ask anyone to resign from anything. So what? I can show up at the next board meeting and ask for your resignation. What does that prove? Second, as I said before, just because a half dozen political opponents and the cub reporter from the deservedly defunct Star malign me, that doesn't make it so. I can do that now too, with my blog. If I use that blog to smear you ( which I've never done), does that make it so? Lastly, that closed session meeting was to discuss hiring, which, according to our attorney, was OK for closed session. Madigan never investigated this, the AG responded to an anonymous complaint with a form letter requesting us to make the contents of the meeting public. Since we had already done that before we received the letter, I saw no reason to spend thousands on dollars of taxpayer money to fight the AG, just so I could say I was right. Quite the opposite of what this current board would have done.
frank November 25, 2012 at 02:52 AM
This board is a disgrace! >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


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