Former Lyons-Brookfield District 103 school board president and school board member Michael Bennett has withdrawn as a candidate in the April 2 school board election. His name will not appear on the ballot.
Bennett, who was elected to the school board four years ago as part of a slate of candidates supported by Lyons Village President Christopher Getty, was not part of the slate of candidates this year that Getty appears to be supporting.
Bennett had waited until the last day to file his nominating petitions. He became a father for the first time in December and missed three of the six school board meetings in January when the board was interviewing superintendent candidates. He withdrew from the race on Jan. 24.
When the Getty faction took control of the District 103 school board in 2015, Bennett was elected president of the board. He served as president of the board until 2017, when control of the school board shifted to board members not aligned with Getty.
Bennett also serves as the president of the Police and Fire Commission for the village of Lyons.
His withdrawal leaves nine candidates in the race for four seats on the District 103 school board. Two slates of four candidates appear to be the leading contenders in the race which will determine control of the school board.
One slate, calling themselves Parents for Student Excellence and apparently backed by Getty, includes incumbent board member Jorge Torres and three newcomers: Vito, Campanile of Brookfield, Olivia Quintero of Stickney and Winifred Rodriguez from Lyons.
Torres works as a building inspector for the village of Lyons and a relative of Quintero’s is the Lyons village clerk.
The other slate, which calls itself Putting Students First, consists of incumbents Joanne Schaeffer and Tom Weiner, former school board member Connie Esparza of Lyons, and Stickney resident Jacquie Magsaysay.
The only non-aligned candidate appears to be McCook resident Shakana Kirksey-Miller, who seems to be running a quiet campaign.
Unlike Torres, Bennett voted for the consent agenda at the meeting on Aug. 28, 2018, which included the hiring of teacher Andres Rodriguez who, unknown to school board members and district officials at the time, was facing charges of attempted murder.
Criticism of Rodriguez’s hiring, who was placed on leave in October and subsequently fired, has been a main focus of the Parents for Student Excellence slate’s campaign.
Bennett was generally liked by other school board members, even those not in his political camp.
“I wish he would have been able to evaluate the situations like a board member instead of being politically tied, because I like Mike,” Schaeffer said. “He’s a good guy, his wife is nice, and he’s got a darling little baby.”
Bennett declined to comment about his decision to withdraw from the school board race.