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U-46 Board set to vote on open post candidate


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 will vote on John Devereux to fill a vacant board seat at its meeting on Monday, June 4.
  Devereux, who wrote in a letter to the board that he’s been a resident of Bartlett for 25 years, was one of 17 to apply and 10 to be interviewed for the seat that was vacated by Traci Ellis last April. The term ends in April 2019.
  In his letter, Devereux said he’s had two sons go through the U-46 system, the youngest graduating this year, and he “couldn’t be more pleased with the opportunities that they’ve been afforded throughout.” He added that his “first and foremost focus would be as an advocate for the students” interests before the interests of taxpayers but “I certainly understand that balance is required.”
  At his May 17 interview, Devereux was asked the same four questions as the other nine candidates who were interviewed, and each was given a wild card question.
  On his experience with U-46, Devereux said his “experiences here, almost without exceptions, has been very positive.”
  On his stance on school choice and charter schools, Devereux said he supported the district’s high school academies and on charter schools he said he’s not “pro or against out of the gate.” He did view charter schools as “diverting” money away from traditional public schools rather than funding following the child.
  On how he would reach out to disparate voices in the district, Devereux said he’s “perfectly comfortable being out there and using a board position for a public forum” and suggested possibly holding town halls.
  On his experience that has helped him prepare for a board seat, Devereux said he’s been active as a parent with the Bartlett High School Band Parent Organization and professionally he’s been the chief actuary for the Ryan Specialty Group since 2011.
  Devereux said he’s “developed some expertise in finance and accounting, regulation, law, contracts, technology” and has “had to navigate board rooms and office politics.”
  Board member Jeanette Ward had the wild card question for Devereux and she asked: “What are your views on academic freedom, and how do you define that?”
  Devereux said “the idea, the phrase sounds fantastic… not knowing specifically if it has a sort of a specific definition inside of education or not.”
  “What’s behind my question is how do you ensure that students are taught unbiased, both sides of controversial issues for example,” Ward said and asked: “How do we ensure that we teach students how to think rather than what to think?”
  Devereux said the district’s School Within a School model was a good model and said: “Why not have more of this where students are asked to investigate a topic and learn about it and then present it to the school, and then obviously open up a dialogue?”
  Business travel may come into conflict Devereux said, but “in most cases, I’d still be able to phone in.” Ward said she had to travel to China for work at one point and “it worked ok, so it can work.”
  Devereux’s social media activity suggests he will follow a left-wing agenda and has expressed support for the status quo. On the Facebook page DuPage Progressives, he stated his support for Veronica Noland, Melissa Owens and Donna Smith over Cody Holt and Enoch Essendrop in the last board election as he posted: “Great result for U-46 School board tonight. Three progressive candidates swept the open positions, defeating 2 tea party backed candidates (including one incumbent).”
  On the Join the Coffee Party Movement page, Devereux called Ward “anti-LGBT” and “anti-science.”
  Devereux also made an accusatory social media post regarding U-46’s controversial change in bathroom/locker room access practice last school year when U-46 CEO Tony Sanders opened up facilities to members of the opposite sex based on their gender identity rather than biology.
  “Let us dispel any illusions that Ms. Ward’s position on this is simply her seemingly innocent assertion that she is interested in transparency and discussion,” Devereux posted.
  Sanders attempted to make the change behind closed doors without any public input, but Ward made the change public leading to several meetings where the vast majority of public comments were opposed to the change. The board’s majority supported the change.

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