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SD 227 does about-face on Rich E. band director, other measures

A large crowd listens Friday May 10 2013 during special meeting Rich Township High School District 227 board.  |

A large crowd listens Friday, May 10, 2013, during a special meeting of the Rich Township High School District 227 board. | Ginger Brashinger~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 14, 2013 6:12AM



At a special meeting Friday that packed the Rich Township High School District 227 Administrative Center meeting room, newly seated board President Cheryl Coleman pushed through an aggressive agenda of change as well as the reversals of a few measures passed by the previous board.

A decision made at the May 7 meeting to cut Rich East band director Dwayne Sanders was quickly overturned when Coleman moved the eighth of 12 items to the top of the agenda so students could participate in an evening concert knowing their program was intact.

The five “yes” votes to restore Sanders to the position were from Coleman, David Morgan, Antoine Bass, Delores Woods and Sheila Friday. Emmanuel Imoukhuede voted “present,” and Betty Owens came late to the meeting, missing the vote.

“Rich East should not be without a band,” Coleman said.

She asked that the school community, students, parents and band directors work together to find a solution to the financial and low attendance problems the band program faces.

About a dozen parents, teachers, current and former students sounded off during public comments on issues ranging from personal gripes to the controversial decision made last year by the board to prohibit seniors from participating in the graduation ceremony if their grade-point average was lower than 2.0.

Six board members voted to remove the requirement. Owens voted “present” after saying the previous board’s intention when implementing the policy was not “punitive” as Woods called it in discussion, but was “intended to raise the bar.”

“It wasn’t to punish the students,” Owens said.

Coleman got more pushback from Owens, Friday and Imoukhuede when she sought to reverse three other measures passed at the May 7 meeting.

Coleman said she was rescinding her “yes” votes on raises for administrators and executive staff, approval of new hires, and approval of recalls of teachers, and she asked that the votes be nullified until further notice and pending the advice of legal counsel.

Owens, Friday and Imoukhuede voted against reversing the passage of all three measures, citing possible legal issues associated with the contracts. But they were outvoted 4 to 3.

“I do believe we will be out of compliance with Illinois state law,” Owens said.

Coleman said after the meeting that although she is confident the reversals will stand, the district will “have to go through legal counsel” before they move forward.

The board also approved hiring a Chicago firm, Franczek Radelet, to replace the current attorney. Coleman said community members will have the opportunity to submit candidates before the board approves permanent counsel for the district.

Any firm that represents the district will deal with a districtwide forensic audit, unanimously approved by the board. Coleman said the cost of the audit is unknown at this point but will become clearer as bids are taken.

Coleman said after the meeting that the purpose of the forensic audit is “to make sure we identify areas of concern we have highlighted in previous audits.”



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