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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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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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