The fallout from April 2 is just beginning to register in Lyons-Brookfield School District 103. In the wake an election that swept in a new majority on the District 103 Board of Election, co-interim superintendents Patrick Patt and Robert Madonia have resigned.
The resignations were approved by unanimous vote at the April 8 school board meeting. School board member Jorge Torres, when polled for his vote on the interim superintendent resignations, responded, “Super yes.”
“I don’t think I could work with the new group of board members, and I don’t think they want to work with me either, so I guess it’s mutual,” Patt said in a phone interview with the Landmark last week.
Patt’s last day will be April 15; Madonia’s last day will be April 16.
Three new school board members, Vito Campanile, Oliva Quintero and Winifred Rodriguez, will be sworn in later this month.
They and incumbent Jorge Torres, who was elected Tuesday to another four-year term, will form the new majority of the seven-member board.
They were elected with the support of Lyons Village President Christopher Getty. Election results must be certified by no later than April 23, and the new board members can be sworn in after the election results are certified.
Both Getty and his lieutenant, Ryan Grace, who assumed the position of Lyons public works director a day after being fired as District 103’s director of maintenance 2017, were in attendance at Monday’s school board meeting.
After the vote on the resignations, Grace clapped loudly and said, “See you later, Pat.”
Madonia also said it is time to go.
“As a result of this last election, it’s very clear that the board will take a completely new direction, so it’s important for the superintendent to be on the same page with the board,” Madonia said in a phone interview. “Obviously the new board coming in will be in a different direction than where we would have been.”
Patt and Madonia had been expected to serve until July 1 when newly hired Kristofer Rivera will take over.
Rivera, who is the assistant superintendent for human resources in the Hammond, Indiana, school district, said April 5 that he still plans to come to work at District 103 and that the election results doesn’t change his plans at all.
“We signed a contract, we’re good to go,” Rivera said. “I reached out to Mr. Torres and we had a very good, very positive conversation the day after the election.”
Rivera said that Torres, who was the only board member to vote against hiring Rivera, said that they could work together.
“He said that he’s ready to work and wants to do what’s right for kids, so we’re going to get to work,” Rivera said.
One supporter of the defeated Putting Students First slate of Joanne Schaeffer, Tom Weiner, Connie Esparza and Jacquie Magsaysay blamed Patt in large part for the slate’s defeat.
At various school board meetings, Patt had called out Getty and Torres by name, sometimes standing in front the board table to make statements.
“He pushed the community away by calling parents poison, by badmouthing people, and starting a fight,” said former District 103 board member Deanna Viti-Huxhold. “I’m not saying Getty didn’t deserve it, I’m not saying that at all, but you still don’t attack a popular guy in Lyons.”
Patt rejected the charge that his behavior played a major role in the defeat of the Putting Students First slate. He said he has no major regrets.
“I can accept the fact that I was basically throwing stuff back at Getty, but dismissive to parents? I don’t get that one at all,” Patt said.
Patt and Madonia also said that they do not regret acting to remove two principals shortly before the election.
Lincoln School Principal Tara Kristoff resigned in March after being put on administrative leave in February and veteran Robinson School Principal Al Molina did not have his contract renewed after teachers voted no confidence in him.
Some parents believe that Madonia was out to get Kristoff and made life miserable for her, while Patt did the same to Molina.
Patt and Madonia said that they did what needed to do in regard to the two principals.
“Whether you’re a board member or whether you’re a superintendent, doing what’s right is not always easy and doing what’s easy is not always right,” Madonia said. “If there’s fallout from that, then so be it. We’re going to do what’s right.”
Madonia said he was proud of what he and Patt accomplished since they were hired last summer after the previous superintendent, Carol Baker, left to take an assistant superintendent job in Hinsdale High School District 86.
Madonia pointed to a drop in disciplinary infractions at George Washington Middle School as one of their accomplishments.
“Things on the inside are really good and the people are good,” Madonia said. “It’s just unfortunate perception sometimes defies reality.”
Patt said he and Madonia addressed problems that needed to be addressed.
“We did what we had to do ethically, above board, rationally in spite of the fact that many things being passed out during the campaign were falsehoods and total untruths,” Patt said.
HR director takes new job
District 103 will also have to hire a new human resources director. On the morning of Election Day, Human Resources Director Kim Ontiveros resigned, effective June 30.
Ontiveros was hired on April 1 as the new executive director of human resources in East Aurora School District 131. Ontiveros has been the human resources director in District 103 since July 1. Before that, she had served as the principal at Home School in Stickney for seven years.
Ontiveros was HR director last summer when the district unknowingly hired a middle school teacher who was facing charges of attempted murder. That teacher, Andres Rodriguez, was not truthful on his job application, and his background check came back clean because he had not been convicted of any crime.