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Hubacek board scuttles voices of parents and public
The outrageous indifference to the needs of School District 103 by the dictatorial board majority led by Marge Hubacek prevented parents and taxpayers from expressing their concerns about the board majority’s poor decisions. Hubacek illegally blocked the parents from speaking limiting to only five the number who could address the board’s mismanagement and poor decisions
By Ray Hanania
When some 200 parents attend a school board meeting concerned about the safety of their children, you would think board members would be humble, attentive and show compassion.
But we’re talking about the Lyons District 103 school board, which is none of those things. Over the past year, the board has shifted the focus from education to politics and financial waste.
Board Chairwoman Marge Hubacek, one of the most arrogant officials I have encountered in 42 years of covering Chicagoland, brushed off the parents telling them basically that their concerns were not important.
The first thing the Hubacek board did was to re-arrange the meeting agenda to avoid answering questions about their hiring as a 6th grade teacher Andres Rodriguez, charged with nine counts of attempted murder 13 months earlier.
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After convening the board, Hubacek ordered the board into a closed “Executive Session,” normally conducted at the end of a meeting. Hubacek must have been hoping she could outlast parents’ anger. The closed-door meeting lasted 40 minutes.
But the parents waited patiently, while a handful of pro-Hubacek parents bullied them, scolding them because they “only attend board meetings when there is a controversy.”
When that didn’t work, Hubacek and her minions, like Board members Joanne Schaeffer and Sharon Anderson, who is related to board member Shannon Johnson, declared they would limit the number of people who could comment on the controversy to five people.
The restriction is a clear violation of the Open Meetings Act.
District 103 has six elementary schools serving students in Lyons, Stickney, Forest View, McCook and Brookfield. Three of the schools are in Lyons.
Several parents spoke denouncing the board for failing to do a basic background check to disclose the criminal charges against Andres Rodriguez, who the board hired two months ago along with nine other new teachers. Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty, to show support for the parents, also spoke denouncing Hubacek and the board majority, and the district’s two interim superintendents, Patrick Patt and Robert Madonia, who make an incredulous $100,00 each.
To show you how little they care about the interests of the students, just pick up a copy of the Landmark tabloid newspaper in Riverside, which publishes as if it is owned by Hubacek and Patt. The Landmark quoted Patt Sept. 18 making a series of political attacks against Getty, warning, “Getty better not mess with me because I’m ready for a full-scale war if that’s what he wants.”
The Landmark failed to mention Getty was born and raised in Lyons and graduated from District 103 schools. Patt, on the otherhand, is from the north suburbs of Chicago. A longtime bureaucrat, Patt already gets a $170,000 public school pension on top of his $100,000 “interim” District 103 salary.
State Senator Martin Sandoval spoke saying he would introduce a law requiring school employees to disclose if they are charged in a felony criminal case. Hubacek countered District 103 did a comprehensive background check on Rodriguez. That only discloses past convictions, not current court cases. But anyone watching the news over the past 13 months, or did a simple Google search, would know about the Rodriguez charges.
Rodriguez is of particular concern. He fled a bar where he was drinking without paying the bill and ran into the street where he bumped into a passing car. When the driver stopped to see if Rodriguez was ok, Rodriguez pulled out a gun and shot the driver seven times, according to court records.
Should a man like that be hired to teach 6th graders, parents were asking?
McCook Mayor and Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski tried to speak but he was blocked by the Hubacek board, with Schaeffer and Johnson bullying parents in the audience who called for the board to allow him to speak.
Clearly, the sole purpose of Hubacek’s politically motivated board, and the suddenly silent Patt and Madonia, was to prevent parents from asking question about the board’s failure to ensure the safety of District 103 students because of the Rodriguez hiring debacle.
District 103 parents have a right to be angry, and they deserve to be heard.
(Ray Hanania is an award-winning former Chicago City Hall political reporter and columnist, and contractor with the Village of Lyons. Hanania can be reached on his personal website at www.Hanania.comand by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. This column is reprinted from the Des Plaines Valley News.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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