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U-46 policy updates approved via split vote

By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved via a split vote, 5-2, updates to the board’s policy under sections 1, 2 and 3 at its meeting on Monday, Nov. 5.
  Board members Phil Costello and Jeanette Ward voted no specifically for certain changes under Section 2.
  Luis Rodriguez, staff attorney, said that there were some changes from a committee meeting and regular board meeting in October, including changes based on feedback from the board. He said there was also a change to the board member oath of office in the policy as well as added language to its committee policy that states “shall comply with the Open Meetings Act.”
  Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, said the oath of office change meets “additional, statutory, legal requirements.”
  Ward said she agreed with “many of the changes,” but there were “a few major provisions in the policy with which I disagree.” Her disagreement was with the district’s continued desire to divide people up by subgroups.
  Additional language to Section 2.128, school board member code of conduct, states that board members will support “educational programs which meet the individual needs of every student, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, age, national origin, ancestry, marital status, disability, or any other legally protected status in accordance with applicable legal requirements.”
  Ward said: “I believe our educational programs should meet the individual needs of every student, period. Naming every protected class is unnecessary and, in my opinion, opens us up to potential liability.”
  In October, Miguel Rodriguez said the change came from a suggestion by the Illinois Association of School Boards.
  Ward also opposed Section 2.250, concerning equity, which implies the need of a racially biased quota system and practices as well as tacitly supporting the idea of racial segregation.
  Section 2.250 states: “The District shall actively strive to have a teacher and administrative workforce that reflects the diversity of the student body…. The District shall remedy any practices that lead to over-representation of students of color in special education and student discipline; The District shall remedy any practices that lead to under-representation of students of color in programs such as gifted programs, honors academies, and advanced placement courses.”
  Ward said: “This verbiage is not a proposed change… it is already in the policy. However, I disagree strongly with any policy that considers skin color in making discipline decisions, decisions about inclusion in programs and hiring decisions.”
  Rodriguez said that policy was a “standing policy” approved by a previous board and did not need to be taken into consideration for this vote, but Ward said: “I interpret it differently. I interpret it, if I’m voting for this policy I’m voting for the contents of the policy…. Besides that, I disagree with the change that’s been proposed.”
  Ward said that despite her disagreements she appreciated the staff’s work with the board and said the committee meeting, which she was the chair, was “very productive, and in part because of the work you guys did.”
  Costello asked how Section 2.250 could be changed to which Rodriguez said a board consensus was needed to look at the policy.
  Agreeing with Ward, Costello said the policies “should be equitable, they should be fair and then they should be very transparent. And beyond that, it just seems like we’re getting too far into the legalese of this as opposed to what we’re really trying to do which is educate all children, period.”
  Board member Veronica Noland said she objected to Costello’s and Ward’s positions claiming that there’s systematic racism which requires these policies.
  “I must stand strongly in opposing that kind of a removal of those protections that exist. They exist for a reason…. In no way do we address them by removing them. When you remove them and think that well we say ‘all means all,’ that doesn’t address the problem,” Noland said.
  Noland also claimed minorities “need our protection.”




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