In a special meeting Thursday night, the Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 Board of Education voted to appoint a woman who is connected to a high-level employee for the village of Lyons.
Kendra Pierce was selected as the board’s newest member to fill a seat left open by Mark Camasta, who died March 8.
Pierce was appointed to the seat in a 4 to 2 decision, with board members Joanne Schaeffer and Sharon Anderson voting against her appointment.
Pierce’s father-in-law is John Pierce Sr., director of the Building and Planning Department for the village of Lyons.
“It’s all political,” Schaeffer said of Pierce’s appointment.
The school board interviewed five candidates before the meeting, although seven applied for the seat. When asked why all of the candidates were not given interviews, school board President Michael Bennett and Interim Superintendent Kyle Hastings initially said they did not know.
Hastings then said that the board decided to pick only the most qualified candidates to interview. One of the two candidates not asked to interview was Mary Kalfas, who previously served on the school board for 17 years.
The school board interviewed Marge Hubacek, who retired earlier this year after a 30-year career as an administrative assistant in District 103; Deanna Viti Huxhold, who previously served on the District 103 school board for 10 years; and two Brookfield residents, one of whom is a teacher at Lyons Township High School.
But the majority voted in favor of Pierce, who said she applied for the school board seat because she is hoping to start a family soon with her husband John Pierce Jr.
Pierce said that she hoped to make the school district better for her future children, listen to the concerns of parents and make the district better for all students.
When asked to respond to critics who said she was given the seat because of her father-in-law’s position in the village, Pierce said she didn’t believe that was the case.
“That’s what they say, but it’s not true,” Pierce said.
Pierce, who said she is employed as a claims adjuster for a “large” auto insurance company, added that she has long wanted to run for a school board seat and was planning to run in the next election before learning of the vacancy.
“I just wanted to get involved as soon as possible,” she said.
Pierce said that she took “some teaching classes, as well as basic classes” for two years at College of DuPage, but did not complete a degree, when asked what she believed her qualifications for the position were.
Bennett, who was named school board president in 2015 after winning election as a part of a slate backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, said that he supported hiring Pierce because of her outgoing personality.
“I feel like we needed a nice, unbiased person on the board,” Bennett said.
Board member Catherine Broderick, also a member of the winning Getty-backed slate, said Pierce seemed nice and had good answers during her interview, but declined to elaborate.
Explaining her vote against Pierce’s appointment the board, Sharon Anderson said that she thought there were other candidates who would be better suited for the position.
Anderson said that, especially for the length of time Pierce will serve before the next election in April 2017, a candidate with some board experience would have been able to get up to speed more quickly.
“She’s only lived in town a year,” Anderson said. “Hopefully she catches on quickly and will become a good member of the board.”