Lyons SD 103 board boots member
Shipbaugh, absent since June meetings, removed
By Steve Metsch
Coleen Shipbaugh, a member of the Lyons School District 103 since 2015, was booted for failing to attend meetings since June.
She was removed by the regional school superintendent who, according to an interim superintendent, has the authority to do so.
Her replacement could be selected at a special meeting on Dec. 10, board president Marge Hubacek said. That person would attend the next regular meeting on Dec. 17.
Shipbaugh’s term runs until the April election. Her replacement would serve until then and could seek election.
“She’s off the board,” said Pat Patt, one of two interim superintendents in the district, after the Nov. 26 meeting.
Lyons School District 103 board vice-president Sharon Anderson, left, and president Marge Hubacek said they have not spoken with Coleen Shipbaugh in months. Photo by Steve Metsch.
Shipbaugh did not attend the Nov. 26 night meeting and has not attended a regular board meeting or committee meeting since June, Patt said.
Her absences were brought to the attention of regional schools superintendent Mark Klaisner, executive director at the West 40 Intermediate Service Center No. 2 by the district’s other interim superintendent. Dr. Robert Madonia, Patt said.
“(Klaisner) has the power to remove a board member from office for abandoning the duties. He sent her two letters. She hasn’t responded,” Patt said. ”She has not been here since June, and has not accessed her (district) email since June.”
During the meeting at Washington Middle School, Patt read a letter sent by Klaisner to Shipbaugh.
In the letter, Klaisner said board president Marge Hubacek had “requested my investigation of your involvement (or lack thereof) in the board of education.”
“The records show you have not been involved in board activity, or checked district email since mid-June 2018, which would be five months ago,” the letter continued.
“At this time, I am compelled to consider removing you from your seat on the Lyons Elementary 103 school board. If you wish for me to re-consider this decision, you must contact (me) by the end of the business day today, Monday, Nov. 26, 2018,” Patt read from the letter.
Patt said that at the close of business Monday, there had been no such contact, and “he is removing her from the school board.”
Shipbaugh said that she had been disappointed by what she believed had been a focus on politics by the board majority rather than on the best interests of the students in the district.
“I’m a just a parent who believes that the school district should spend all of its energies serving the educational interests of the students,” she said. “Instead, I have been bullied, intimidated and attacked by the board majority on the basis of their narrow focus on politics.
“This board majority is a problem for the school children and their actions need to be confronted. The board should spend more time listening to the parents not to their selfish political instincts.”
Board Vice President Sharon Anderson said Shipbaugh had not reached out to explain why she was not attending meetings. She said she last saw Shipbaugh at a Lyons Mustangs event in the fall.
“She said she had some health issues. It was nice to see her. I feel bad. If she truly wanted to be on the board … she hasn’t come or contacted us,” Anderson said.
Patt noted the absence is in stark contrast to another board member.
“You have a lady sitting here who has missed three meetings since the beginning of the year and is here tonight after having open heart surgery four weeks ago,” Patt said, nodding toward board member Joanne Schaeffer.
Schaefer was visibly angered by Monday’s absence of Shipbaugh, Michael Bennett and Jorge Torres. “They do not respect the district, the employees, the children and the taxpayers. Shame on them,” she said.
Shipbaugh, Bennett and Torres have been aligned with Mayor Christopher Getty, Hubacek said, but she added that politics played no role in the move.
“She was his candidate, but that’s a coincidence. It doesn’t make any difference. I’d still have the same conversation when you have board members who are intentionally not coming in,” Hubacek said.
Hubacek said she last talked with Shipbaugh “before June.”
“People have seen her. I don’t know if it’s a medical issue. She’s a nice lady, but she’s not showing up and we have board business to do,” Hubacek said. “If she’s sick, just call and let us know. We’ve worked with that before, but this smacks of (being) intentional.”
Their missing meetings hampers the duties of the board, Hubacek said.
Madonia said Bennett and Torres had not attended a meeting since Oct. 23. Together with Shipbaugh’s absences and Schaeffer’s convalescence, the board could not take action because it lacked a quorum.
“We needed a quorum in order to conduct business,” he said, including approving payments.
“We brought (Schaeffer) in tonight so we would have a quorum,” Madonia said.
Hubacek said anyone interested in applying for the board vacancy can apply at the school district headquarters, 4100 S. Joliet Ave., Lyons.
Editor Bob Bong contributed to this story.
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