D86 board prez vote suggests division

For the third year in a row, Hinsdale High School District 86 Board members have disagreed about who should lead the board.

In 2021, board members spent 2 1/2 hours and took 10 votes before electing Terri Walker president. In 2022, Erik Held was elected president in a split 4-3 vote.

And last week, the board chose newly seated board member Cat Greenspon as its leader, with four members voting for her and three voting for Debbie Levinthal.

Board member Peggy James nominated Greenspon at the May 3 reorganization meeting. Kay Gallo, former board president who was re-elected to the board after a six-year hiatus, nominated Levinthal.

When it came time for the roll call vote, Gallo, Levinthal and Jeff Waters voted for Levinthal. Greenspon, James and Terri Walker voted for Greenspon. That left it all up to newly seated board member Asma Akras, who, after a pause, voted for Greenspon.

Greenspon pointed to her board experience with other organizations, her understanding of both campuses and her track record of building consensus in accepting the nomination.

“I fully respect that there are seven board members at this table and each board member has an equal vote and will encourage appropriate conversation, respectful conversation and data-driven discussions that benefit the student body, their growth and achievement,” Greenspon said.

James will serve as vice president of the board. She was the sole nominee after Levinthal declined Waters’ nomination and Akras declined Levinthal’s nomination.

Levinthal also declined a nomination for secretary, as did Waters, Gallo and Walker. That left only Akras eligible to accept the nomination, which she did, thereby earning the office.

Levinthal told The Hinsdalean Monday that while she knew Greenspon had been seeking the office, she was not aware that James would make the nomination.

“I look forward to continuing my board service for the next two years and remain committed to holding the superintendent accountable for strong academic performance, supporting the teachers, cabinet and building administrators, and working collaboratively on committees, both formal and ad hoc,” she read from a prepared statement. “The board member oath states that board members will abide by the decisions of the majority. I respect that Ms. Greenspon was elected the board president by a majority of my fellow board members and expect she will act within the boundaries of policy, protocol and good faith.”

James, who would not say whether Greenspon had asked her for the nomination, said she had good intentions in making it.

“My hope is that this board can come together and move forward in the best interests of the district,” she said.

Audience members, some of whom had talked about the hopes of a unified board during public comment at the beginning of the meeting, seemed stunned.

“Wow,” said resident Yvonne Mayer, who during public comment at the start of the meeting had advocated for Levinthal to be president. “As I watched the officer election just play out, two phrases come to mind — ‘et tu, Brutus’ and ‘burning down the house.’ The house that in my earlier comment I thought had a solid foundation of trust and respect, collaboration, built over two years of working with Ms. Levinthal, and instead what I saw tonight, sadly, was an arrogant power play.

“Shame on you,” Mayer added.

The room was silent. No one else stepped to the microphone to offer public comment, and the meeting was adjourned.

D181 officers

The Community Consolidated Elementary District 181 Board unanimously elected Michael Martin president, William Cotter vice president and Sinead Duffy secretary at its May 1 reorganization meeting.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean