Getty-backed candidates stage coup in District 103

Village official posts special school board meeting agenda

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By Bob Uphues


Four candidates elected earlier this month to the Lyons-Brookfield District 103 school board are claiming they already have been sworn into office and have called for a special meeting of the school board on Thursday, April 30.

Patrick Patt, co-interim superintendent of District 103, said he received the news Tuesday afternoon from Kyle Leonard, the administrative assistant to Lyons Village President Christopher Getty.

According to Patt, Leonard walked into the district office, handed him a meeting agenda and said, "Here, this is what you need to do."

"This was a command, basically," said Patt. "You will post this."

The agenda calls for the board to be reorganized and includes action items calling for the termination of the district's law firm, Robbins Schwartz, and the termination of co-interim superintendents Patt and Griff Powell, who only started work April 22.

In addition, the agenda calls for the hiring of the firm Odelson and Sterk to be the school district's legal counsel and the hiring of Kyle Hastings as interim superintendent. The agenda also changes the school board meeting dates to the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

The special meeting was called by Michael Bennett, Jorge Torres, Katie Broderick and Coleen Shipbaugh, who were elected as part of slate backed by Getty on April 7 and claim to have been sworn into office on Tuesday.

Leonard delivered copies of signed oaths of office from all four candidates to Patt on Tuesday. The documents are notarized by Burt Odelson, whose firm serves as legal counsel for the village of Lyons. It is unknown who administered the oath of office or where the swearing-in took place.

Section 10 of the Illinois School Code states that "each school board member, before taking his or her seat on the board, shall take an oath of office, administered as determined by the board."

District 103's board policy for swearing in new board members states that "the board secretary will administer the oath in an open board meeting."

That meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Monday, May 4, was posted earlier in the day on Tuesday, according to Patt.

Also on Tuesday, Bennett filed a Freedom of Information request to obtain financial and school board meeting documents, a list of all employees of the district hired since January 2015 and the contracts of Patt, Powell and George Washington Middle School Principal Paul Blueher, who was hired by the school board on April 27.

Attempts by the Landmark to reach Getty, Leonard, Odelson and Bennett were unsuccessful.

None of the other members of the school board were notified that the new candidates were attempting to get sworn in prior to the May 4 board reorganization meeting. School board President Sharon Anderson said she found out about the April 30 special meeting when she found the notice taped to the mailbox at her home Tuesday night.

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether there will be a meeting at all on April 30, because Patt, through the school district's law firm, issued a statement Wednesday calling Tuesday's actions invalid.

"The oaths of office submitted by the board members-elect who signed the purported call [for a special meeting] were not administered at an open, public meeting," Patt said in the statement. "Therefore, the signers have not yet been seated as board members in accordance with the provisions on Section 10-16.5 of the School Code and Board Policy 2:80, and do not have the authority to call a special meeting of the board of education at this time."

Patt told the Landmark Wednesday morning that, in any event, April 29 would be his last day as interim superintendent in District 103. Powell, who has only worked one day so far since being hired, is also expected to walk away.

"Griff and I knew this wasn't going to last long," Patt said. "In the 40 years Griff and I have been doing this, we have never seen anything like this."

Patt refused to post the special meeting agenda handed to him by Leonard. At about 5:40 p.m., Leonard taped two copies of the agenda to a window and glass door outside the district office's front door.

"When I went out to his car after he did it, I said, 'Kyle, you know, we're hearing this could be a violation of the Open Meetings Act.'

"And that's when he rolled the window up on me."

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Reader Comments

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Rose Maus  

Posted: August 10th, 2016 12:16 AM

Martin are very smart and very right!! You have crystal clear vision that most do not see!! YES, that law firm is behind this debacle...they did the same thing in Mokena district 159. They nickel and dimed 159 EXACTLY as you describe...Mokena ended up losing extra curriculars, families put their children in parochial schools and other districts, they chased out special needs children, there was a declining student enrollment, abs guess what happened next...houses weren't selling and that was before the 2007 real estate crash! You are better off in Lyons now!

Earl Johnson from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 30th, 2015 11:43 AM

I'd also like to call for the resignation of Kyle Leonard. Mr. Leonard should not be out playing politics with our school district. Mr. Leonard serves the Village of Lyons not our school district.

Earl Johnson from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 30th, 2015 9:00 AM

Thank you to the Landmark Newspaper for taking the time to report on this very important story. I ran against Katie Broderick and the Getty candidates and I saw first hand the dirty games and politics these folks played. They flat out lied to each and every resident of the District 103. They promised the voters that they would take politics out of our schools and they have done nothing but insert politics into our schools. Mayor Getty and his political cronies have no business in our schools and need to leave their politics at village hall where it belongs. Mayor Getty and his political cronies have put the Village of Lyons in serious financial debt and now they want to take our school district down the same path while at the same time handing out jobs to political cronies costing we the taxpayers of the district more money. Mayor Getty and the newly elected school board members are nothing but bad news for District 103!!!

Toni Parker from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 30th, 2015 8:26 AM

Thank you Landmark for covering this story. It a shame that certain individuals from Lyons confuse "strong leadership" with intimidation tactics and disregard and disdain for the rule of law. All these newly elected board members have demonstrated is that they were totally disingenuous throughout their campaign; as citizens, however, we will be happy to report any future violations of the school code and/or Open Meetings Act to the appropriate authorities. Not an impressive start for these new board members, unless one considers creating disarray where none existed a positive effect.

Martin Diaz from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 29th, 2015 9:42 PM

Happy the schools finally have strong leadership. The past superintendent was a joke and never bothered to return phone calls or emails. All questions had to be answered by lawyers and the school board had no idea what was going on inside the schools. Look at the school board agendas and you can see on paper that they were puppets, all they had to do was read the script she wrote for them! I bet those lawyers are mad they won't be getting paid to answer District 103 emails anymore.

Dan Hbercek from LYONS  

Posted: April 29th, 2015 7:24 PM

"Griff and I knew this wasn't going to last long," Patt said. "In the 40 years Griff and I have been doing this, we have never seen anything like this." Hey Patt you're an idiot! You're one of THREE Superintendents that the District is now paying, and you wonder why this happened? Unbelievable! Maybe you should go supervise a dog kennel because I know you're not bright enough to run a school! Where did they find you? Well, it all makes sense, considering the make up of the old board. The old Board should have been investigated by the FBI or the US Attorney's Office. They allowed thousands upon thousands of dollars to be spent, without oversight, in a CICERO hardware store. This while they allowed cost over runs ten times over the original estimates at the Washington School rehab, again without any over sight! And when Board member Anderson was asked about these anomalies, she laughed it off! And this rag of a newspaper never called her on it! The people spoke! They want a new direction, a new Board. So was it a Coup? Yes! And a badly needed one. Board Members Schaeffer and Anderson and Kamasta should be ashamed of their past performance. GO KYLE!

Joe Melone from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 29th, 2015 6:31 PM

DUH! Nobody saw this coming? Landmark used the right word "COUP". Well I know some strong people on that board that will not bend.

Nancy Cooney from Lyons, Illinois  

Posted: April 29th, 2015 6:10 PM

Kyle Leonard should be ashamed of himself, as should the PSE/PAC. I am not surprised at all by the strong armed process of Christopher Getty who was obviously behind this. I hope those that voted these people into office are proud of themselves and I hope they do not have children in these schools because these candidates obviously lied when they said they cared about the 2600 children whose education and lives are now in their hands. I don't think the ARDC will take the actions of what the Odelson and Sterck lawfirm did lightly.

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