D103 board member slams 'threat,' won't step down

'Political ploy' seen as last-ditch move to save majority

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By Bob Skolnik

Contributing Reporter

Joanne Schaeffer, the longtime member of the Lyons-Brookfield District 103 school board, says not only will she remain on the board, but she may run again for re-election in two years, after what she said was a ploy last week to get her to resign.

   With the election of three candidates -- incumbent Sharon Anderson and newcomers Shannon Johnson and Margaret Hubacek -- on April 4, the board majority is about to flip from one under the heavy influence of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty to a bloc of political independents.

And with new board members set to be sworn in on April 27, it appears a final bid was made to keep the majority under village hall control by attempting to embarrass Schaeffer by disseminating provocative photos of a relative in an advertisement offering massage services posted on the website Backpage.com.

On the afternoon of April 13, just hours before a specially called school board meeting, District 103 Superintendent Carol Baker asked Schaeffer to come to her office for a private meeting. 

At the meeting, according to Schaeffer, Baker showed her an advertisement featuring photos of Schaeffer's 26-year-old granddaughter, dressed in black lingerie and posing provocatively. 

The Landmark obtained a link to the ad from someone other than Schaeffer or Baker. Schaeffer confirmed the photos were authentic but said her granddaughter didn't post the ad. The photos, Schaeffer said, were posted to Facebook by her granddaughter.

"Young girls, they do stuff," the 77-year-old Schaeffer said.

At the school board meeting that evening, Baker reportedly offered the copies of the ad and photos to board members. All the board members took the photos except for Sharon Anderson.

"Dr. Baker asked me if I wanted them as I was leaving and I told her no," Anderson said.

Schaeffer said that she believes Baker showed off the ad in an attempt to induce her to resign from the school board, although Baker never said anything about resigning to her. If Schaeffer were to resign from the board before the new members are seated on April 27, the current Getty-aligned majority could choose a replacement and retain a 4-3 board majority for the next two years.

Schaeffer said she was outraged by Baker presenting the ad and the photos to the board and said she has no intention of quitting.

"I'm not quitting, I'm not going anywhere," Schaeffer said. "The fact of it is I'm going to run again, that's just the way it is. That's how mad they have me. 

"I take it as a threat and I take it as a political ploy. This is politics at its worst. This is politics, this is payback."

Baker wasn't saying much about the situation, but she did confirm calling in Schaeffer for a private meeting last week.

"I shared some information with her," Baker said. "The situation was discussed in closed session and it could pertain to a legal matter, so unfortunately I cannot comment further about this at this time."

Baker later emailed a statement to the Landmark, saying it was unfortunate that a matter discussed in closed session by the school board was made public.

"I don't bring every rumor to the board," Baker stated. "Only concerns that, after investigating, I believe could result in a safety, fiscal, or legal issue. It is my job to investigate and work in concert with our lawyers and staff to make the determination if an issue needs to be brought to the board. These investigations are kept as confidential as possible and when shared with the board, it is done in closed session.

"It is unfortunate that the board member connected to this situation chose to make a statement in public," Baker added. "It was my desire to keep this as confidential as possible so that the board and its attorneys can best determine how to move forward in protecting the students and staff and upholding the integrity of the entire district."

After meeting with Baker on April 13, Schaeffer said she immediately contacted a lawyer.

Anderson said the matter was only discussed in general terms in closed session. 

"We didn't go into a lot of depth," Anderson said. "From what I understand it has nothing to do with Joanne, it has nothing to do with the school district, it has nothing to do with the school board. It's just them playing dirty pool and it's a shame. It's a shame and to me it just shows how desperately they're trying to hold on to something."

Schaeffer, who was emotional and almost trembling when she made a public statement at the end of the April 13 school board meeting, says she plans to run for another term on the school board when her term expires in two years.

"It made me more determined," Schaeffer said. "I actually was thinking about not running in two years. I'm old, but let me tell you it gave me adrenaline. I'm running. You bet I will."

Reader Comments

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Renee Chiero G Barone  

Posted: April 20th, 2017 6:25 PM

I support Ms. Schaeffer and would vote for her at any possibility. Absolutely. Hold your hefad high. The other side just exposed themselves as being dirty. Carol Baker? Smh. Disgusting.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 20th, 2017 6:50 AM

This is the sort of bare knuckles, intimidation politics that political machines in much of the western Cook County have been using in recent years to keep the average parent out off local school boards. There's even evidence of interference in the northern suburbs. Fortunately, people there wised up and ignored the politically connected group by a 2-to-1 margin.

Karen Klimasz Boylan  

Posted: April 19th, 2017 11:37 AM

Unless the ad said my Grandma is on the School Board of District 103 or any other mention of the District - which I am sure it did not! there was no need for any of this to be brought up. Glad to know that the Superintendent is scrolling around on Backpage rather than tending to school business.

Toni Parker  

Posted: April 19th, 2017 9:04 AM

There's a very nasty word associated with part of the Illinois Criminal Code that describes what took place in that private meeting and then again behind closed doors in executive session Thursday night, and the fact that the attempt to coerce a sitting board member to resign in this manner was advanced and possibly orchestrated by the Superintendent and at minimum condoned by the attorney is chilling. Certainly there needs to be an investigation into this by a competent and completely objective LE agency, with appropriate sanctions applied against any who have violated laws or professional codes of conduct. Show me where in the School Code Baker has ANY standing to address this with a sitting Board Member, let alone drag it into closed session asserting a dubious and tenuous claim of possible litigation. As an attorney friend of mine remarked after reading this article, it was simply not her business. And if she (Superintendent Baker) was the recipient of unsolicited, potentially damaging material of unknown origin and authenticity concerning the adult relative of a board member, material that had no bearing on or relationship to actual board matters, perhaps she should have turned it over to law enforcement, rather than take it upon herself to accept it as real and then publish it further. I wonder if Baker, who apparently relied upon this ploy to overturn the results of an honest and legal election and reclaim control of the district board majority for Getty/PSE, realizes that her actions may have in all probability crashed and burned her career in education beyond repair. Who could ever trust her again? Obviously, she misjudged the character of our community, the quality of legal advice she was receiving and the seriousness and irrevocability of the consequences to herself if her gambit failed.

Mark Duffek from Brookfield  

Posted: April 19th, 2017 6:02 AM

Baker needs to worry about doing the job she was hired to do and not PLAYING PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR. Once again a waste of taxpayers $ on someone's personal agenda.

Deanna M Viti Huxhold  

Posted: April 18th, 2017 10:53 PM

Carol Baker should of never handed out those pictures in open session to the board. Those picture where private and should of been kept private like she said. So again, why did she hand them out in open session to the other board members? Plus, that should never been talked about in closed session. She made statement how it should been kept in close session but she hands them out in open session. Maybe Carol Baker needs to remember not all families are perfect like hers according to her Monday emails.

Dave Smith  

Posted: April 18th, 2017 10:42 PM

Really dirty pool. Not fair to Joanne Schaeffer, at all. :-(

Jennifer Boyd  

Posted: April 18th, 2017 9:51 PM

If Baker wanted to keep this matter private between her and Joanne then there was absolutely NO reason to give copies of these photos to ANY of the board members. This has NOTHING to do with DISTRICT 103 schools at all. It just shows the desperate attempt from Dr.Baker because she feels threatened that she may not be able to hold her own job for much longer. Joanne has done nothing but continue to do everything in her power to make a difference in the schools and all of the childrens' lives as well.

Shannon Johnson  

Posted: April 18th, 2017 4:50 PM

Joanne has selflessly served on this board for many years and it is despicable how Baker made a personal matter that had nothing to do with Joanne a board matter. Shame on her and shame on the other members of the board besides Anderson for being so selfish and desperate. Just further proof they do not belong on the board or involved in a school district. Thank you Landmark for once again being a fair and honest voice!

William Ruting from Lyons  

Posted: April 18th, 2017 3:41 PM

These people have absolutely no sense of morals or shame. This, alone, should be sufficient cause for Baker to be relieved once the new board is sworn in. Thanks, Landmark, for being the one honest voice in our area.

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