Board shouldn't need a scolding to behave properly
Last updated 1/19/2022 at 3:23pm | View PDF
Men behaving badly.
That admonishment is essentially the conclusion of investigation into an October parking lot incident between board members Erik Held and Jeff Waters. The attorney hired to conduct it, Dana Crumley of Franczek P.C., presented her findings at last week’s Hinsdale High School District 86 Board meeting.
We’re not sure how much the district will have to pay for this ruling, as the firm has yet to submit a final invoice. Whatever the amount, it’s too much.
We’re not suggesting the district should have ignored the complaint Held filed under the uniform grievance procedure — or that they should have tried to complete the investigation in-house.
Nor are we blaming the attorney. We think her advice to skip punishment (what would she do — make them each sit in the corner at the next board meeting?) and try to move on is sound. And we truly appreciate her assessment that less contentious meetings would make it less likely that board members would be mixing it up in the parking lot after meetings.
Let’s hear that one more time: Less contentious meetings are better.
Of course sparring has been par for the course since the arrival of newly elected board members Waters, Debbie Levinthal, Peggy James and Terri Walker in May. Remember how it took 10 votes for the group to choose its president? A harbinger if ever there was one.
Many board votes have been painful, due not only to board members’ sharply divided opinions but also the behavior of some. Waters likes to bulldoze his way to his preferred solution and Held tries to talk his way into his, no matter how long it takes.
Even former slate mates Levinthal and Walker, who seem to disagree more vehemently the longer the latter serves as president, are having trouble maintaining civility in their exchanges.
The optics were adjusted last week when Held and James switched seats in a symbolic move to try to bridge the chasm. We’re not sure that move will have any effect on board dynamics, but if it does, perhaps a game of musical chairs before each meeting is in order.
We’d also like to encourage more civil behavior by those who attend board meetings. Many act as if they’re at a sporting event, hooting and hollering when something happens that they like and throwing out one-liners when something happens that they don’t. If the board meeting resembles a boxing match, residents should feel concerned, not energized.
Our issue with the cost of this investigation is that it had to occur in the first place. Board members shouldn’t be arguing with and swearing at one another in the parking lot. They should be setting the example for the students on whose behalf they claim to be acting.
We’re happy to hear all board members promised Crumley to play nice in the future.
We’ll believe it when we see it.