Coleen Shipbaugh has been booted off the Lyons School District 103 Board of Education for not attending meetings.
Shipbaugh, who was elected to the school board in 2015 as part of a slate of candidates backed by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, has not attended a school board meeting since June 25 and has only attended six of the 25 meetings held this year.
She was removed from the school board on Nov. 26 by Mark Klaisner, the executive director of the West 40 Intermediate Service Center No. 2 of the Illinois State Board of Education, which supervises school districts in the western suburbs of Cook County and is the regulatory arm of the Illinois State Board of Education.
Cook County has three intermediate service centers, which exercise the powers of county or regional school superintendents in other parts of Illinois. One of the powers of a county superintendent is to remove a school board member for willful failure to perform official duties.
“He has the authority to do this,” said District 103 Co-Interim Superintendent Patrick Patt at Monday’s school board meeting of Klaisner’s action.
Patt said Monday that Klaisner reached out to Shipbaugh multiple times in the past two weeks but never heard back from her.
According to a letter that Klaisner sent to Shipbaugh that Patt read at Monday’s school board meeting, Shipbaugh has not accessed her board email account since June nor has she responded to multiple attempts by Klaisner and district officials to talk to her.
Klaisner gave Shipbaugh a deadline of 4 p.m. on Nov. 26 to respond to his letter by if she wanted to remain on the board.
Klaisner telephoned Co-Interim Superintendent Robert Madonia at 4:52 p.m. on Nov 26 to tell him that Shipbaugh had not responded to his letter and that he was removing her from the school board.
Madonia said on Nov. 27 that he expected to receive a formal letter or email from Klaisner sometime that day removing Shipbaugh from the board. According to its website, the West 40 office is Hillside was closed on Monday due to the snowstorm.
Shipbaugh reportedly has never told district officials that she would be missing meetings. She has not responded to multiple phone calls from the district office.
“Coleen acts as if we don’t exist or she doesn’t exist,” Patt said.
School board president Marge Hubacek said some school members had been concerned about Shipbaugh’s absences for a while, but things came to head after Shipbaugh, Michael Bennett and Jorge Torres missed the Nov. 12 board meeting, which had to be cancelled for lack of a quorum.
Shipbaugh, Bennett, and Torres also missed the Nov. 26 meeting, but it was held as scheduled, because board member Joanne Schaeffer, who is still recovering from open heart surgery last month, attended, along with Hubacek and board members Sharon Anderson and Shannon Johnson.
Four school board members need to be present physically to constitute a quorum. Schaeffer had also missed the Nov. 12 meeting.
After having to cancel the meeting earlier this month, Hubacek said that she talked Madonia about what could be done.
“After they pulled that stunt at the last meeting, Dr. Madonia said, ‘Let me call Klaisner and talk to him about what can be done,'” Hubacek said Monday.
Hubacek said that Shipbaugh had told her in the first half of the year that she was having a medical issue, but didn’t know why Shipbaugh hadn’t been to a meeting since June.
“I don’t know if it is a medical issue,” Hubacek said. “If she’s sick or there’s something definitely going on, just call and let us know. This smacks of intentional.”
Hubacek denied that Shipbaugh being part of the Getty-aligned bloc on the board had anything to do with her being kicked off the school board.
“That’s a coincidence,” Hubacek said. “It has everything to do with not showing up and doing your duty.”
Board member Sharon Anderson said that she last saw Shipbaugh at a Morton High School fundraising event a couple of months ago.
“I was glad to see that she was up and about,” Anderson said.
The school board will appoint someone to fill out the remainder of Shipbaugh’s term, which ends in May 2019. The board is now accepting applications from those who wish to fill the vacancy.
The plan is to appoint Shipbaugh’s successor in December. Letters of application for the vacancy and resumes should be sent to the District 103 office by no later than Dec. 5.
By law, the board has 45 days to fill a vacancy.
Anyone interested in filling the vacancy must be a registered voter and a resident of the district for at least one year. You can pick up an application at the Lyons-Brookfield School district 103 office at 4100 Joliet Ave. in Lyons.
Completed applications and resumes must be mailed or dropped off to board President Marge Hubacek at the district office by 4 p.m. on Dec. 5. Call 708-783-4109 with questions.
This story has been changed to correct the number of school board meetings held this year prior to Nov. 26.