The new administrative team at Lyons-Brookfield School District 103 is slowly taking shape with the hiring last week of two more important administrators – a new principal for Robinson School and a special education director – but it’s becoming clear that the leader of the new majority on the school board is putting sand in the gears for some reason.
District 103 school board President Jorge Torres says he was uncomfortable with the vetting process done near the end of the 2018-19 school year, before he and his political allies retook control of the board.
Torres and his running mates had made much hay out of the hiring late last August of a teacher who passed a routine background check despite being charged with attempted murder. As soon as district officials found out, they put the teacher on leave and later fired him, but the political damage had been done.
In explaining why he was preventing certain candidates to come to the board for a vote, Torres explained that he wanted to make sure the district wasn’t hiring anyone who would try to kill someone.
Of course, his explanation makes no sense. The school board has hired plenty of people in recent weeks and months, none of whom, we’re assuming had their background checks conducted personally by Torres.
Torres also voted to hire a special education director last week, on whom the district had not yet completed a criminal background check. He emphasized that his yes vote was made knowing that the background check would be made and implying he’d rescind it if the check somehow turned up a problem. Why that same rule wouldn’t apply to other positions, we can only guess.
The two administrators still to be hired are the district’s human resources director and its business manager – the two people closely connected to money and hiring. Must be a coincidence.
The last time Torres was part of a board majority, it hired an HR director who was politically connected to the board majority’s political sponsors and a business manager who resigned under pressure after a protracted internal investigation whose details were never publicly revealed.
District 103’s new superintendent, Kristopher Rivera, has already come to verbal agreements with candidates for both jobs and was set to bring them to the board for a vote before Torres stepped in.
Both apparently are still interested in the jobs, according to Rivera, who now is trying to come up with a hiring process that will satisfy Torres enough to let his top picks come for a vote.
If he’s forced to hire candidates of others’ choosing, it will be a clear sign that the majority, which campaigned on keeping politics out of the school board, had no intention of following through on that message.
We’re hoping that’s not the case, but we don’t have a ton of confidence. We’ve seen this movie before.