If anyone is going to the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 main office Thursday night to attend a meeting called by four people who claim they’ve been sworn in as members of the school board, you might want to bring a jacket.
That’s because no one will be getting inside the building. As of 12:30 p.m., all of the employees in the main office had gone home, the lights are off and the doors are locked.
In addition, there’s yet another notice taped to the windows that flank the double doors to the building. This one is a letter on Robbins Schwartz stationery from the school board’s attorney, Heidi Katz, stating that the call for the special meeting is invalid and that the people who claim to have been sworn in on Tuesday are not yet members of the school board.
“It is our opinion that the ‘Call for a Special Meeting’ on April 30 is not valid or authorized, and should not be posted as such,” Katz wrote. “Nor is the district required to make its facilities available for the ‘meeting’ in question. A gathering of the board member-elects representing themselves to be, at this juncture, the duly constituted successor board of education would be without legal effect, as would be any action purporting to be board action taken at such a gathering.”
The four board members-elect Katz referred to were Michael Bennett, Coleen Shipbaugh, Jorge Torres and Katie Broderick, who were elected as part of a slate backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty on April 7.
On Tuesday, the four signed oaths of office, which were notarized by Burt Odelson, whose law firm, Odelson and Sterk, is legal counsel for the village of Lyons.
Getty’s administrative assistant, Kyle Leonard, presented the signed oaths of office and an agenda signed by the four board members-elect for a special school board meeting to be held April 30 at 6 p.m. inside the District 103 administration building at 4100 Joliet Ave. in Lyons.
When Patrick Patt, who is co-interim superintendent of District 103, declined to post the agenda, Leonard did so himself.
The meeting agenda called for the termination of Robbins Schwartz as the district’s law firm and the hiring of Odelson and Sterk for that job. In addition, the agenda called for the termination of co-superintendents Patrick Patt and Griff Powell and the hiring of Orland Hills Village President Kyle Hastings as interim superintendent.
None of the incumbent board members, including school board President Sharon Anderson, Mark Camasta and Joanne Schaeffer, have indicated they’ll attend any gathering on Thursday night.
Camasta, who is an attorney, said in an email that even if the four could get a judge to rule that their oaths of office were valid, the four candidates acting in concert to call a special meeting appeared to be a violation of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
“The fact that they all signed the meeting request in my mind is prima facie evidence that, assuming they are in fact legally sworn in, they committed an illegal act,” Camasta said. “So my comment is: They need to pick their poison. Either they were not legally sworn in or their very first board action was a violation of the law.”
Schaeffer told the Landmark she would not attend the purported meeting Thursday, despite being sent a registered letter Thursday morning reminding her that a special meeting had been scheduled.
The school board has already scheduled a meeting to install new members and elect board officers. That meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the district’s administrative office.