The embattled maintenance director for Lyons School District 103 will keep his job, at least for another year.
Without any public discussion, the District 103 Board of Education voted 4 to 2 to rehire Maintenance Director Ryan Grace, giving him a one-year contract. Board President Marge Hubacek and board Vice President Sharon Anderson delivered the key votes to retain Grace, joining Coleen Shipbaugh and Jorge Torres in voting to rehire Grace.
Board members Shannon Johnson and Joanne Schaeffer voted against rehiring him.
The board also voted 4 to 2, with the same breakdown for and against, to rehire Technology Director John Williamsen to another one-year deal.
Anderson and Hubacek had been critical of both Grace and Williamsen on the campaign trail this spring, when they were running for the school board. But they said that their hands were tied by language in the pair’s contracts, saying that is now too late not to rehire them.
“If we were going to let them go, it needed to done previously, within a certain time frame,” Anderson said after the vote. “We were well past that.”
Anderson said she was concerned that if Grace and Williamsen had not been rehired they would have sued the district.
“I’m not willing to take that chance, Anderson said. “I have to do what’s right to the district.”
Hubacek also said that her hands were tied.
“I said back in February when we had the forum, ‘I’m very impatient and I want change’, but I also said to them I would not go against what was lawful,” Hubacek said. “We may have to live with the decisions made by the previous board, but that doesn’t mean we can’t hold everyone accountable, and that’s what we’ll be doing.”
Shannon Johnson, who was elected on a slate with Anderson and Hubacek voted against rehiring Grace and Williamsen.
“They’re not qualified,” Johnson said. “They have no education; they have no licensing, nothing.”
In April, prior to the seating of newly elected board members, the lame duck school board voted to rehire Grace and Williamsen along with other administrators. Those contracts were rescinded in May after the new school board was seated.
In the public comment portion of the meeting Earl Johnson, Shannon’s husband, ripped into Grace, who was not at the meeting. Earl Johnson accused Grace of ripping out yard signs of the Anderson, Hubacek, and Johnson slate and replacing them with signs backing the candidates favored by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.
“His only real qualification is being a close personal friend and a campaign contributor of the mayor of Lyons,” Earl Johnson said of Grace.
Grace served as Lyons village trustee from 2011 to 2013 and once was chairman of the Getty’s United Citizens Party. In the last five years, Grace has donated $1,000 to Getty’s campaign fund, Citizens for Christopher Getty, and another $950 to the United Citizens Party.
Earlier this year, Grace reportedly was involved with a late-night remodeling project at the District 103 administration building that kicked up enough dust to trigger a fire alarm in a room whose floor was covered with asbestos-laden tile. A county investigator questioned Grace’s account of the incident.
Grace had been deputy director of the Village of Lyons’ Public Works Department when he was hired by District 103 in April of 2016.
Grace and Williamsen each received 3-percent raises. Grace will make $82,400 for the coming year, while Williamsen, who has worked for the district for nearly two years, will earn $94,420.
The school board voted 6 to 0 to give Superintendent Carol Baker a contract-mandated raise of 3.25 percent, bringing her salary to $149,712.50.
Baker’s three-year contract states that her yearly raise be no less than 3.25 percent.