Op-Ed: Kevin McDermott On Why D209’s Board Needs Presidential Term Limits

McDermottMonday, April 18, 2016 || Originally for The Forest Park Review || By Kevin McDermott || OPINION

I am responding to the April 13, 2016 article “D209 Board Members Walk Out After Term Limit Battle”. I ran for the Proviso District 209 school board seven years ago, because I believe that D209 badly needs the kind of energy, experience, and integrity that I bring.

The sad condition of Proviso’s high schools, particularly Proviso East and Proviso West, demands the kind of responsible leadership that I have brought to the board since my election in 2009. My decades of experience in industries requiring high levels of integrity and focus — including non-profit charity work, government technology implementation, and management consulting — allow me to carry out my duties as a board member with unwavering fiduciary responsibility to our students, their parents, our school staff and administration, and our fellow community members. I believe this is why the Forest Park Review has endorsed me every time I have run.

But since the election of 2015, the current board president, Theresa Kelly, and her supporters have waged an attack of relentless vilification on me, my reputation, and my motivations through social media, in person, and now in the news media.

In an open letter to her supporters, Ms. Kelly has gone so far as to accuse me (and other board members) of committing the crime of engaging in kickbacks, an accusation that is categorically false, completely unsupported by any factual evidence (Ms. Kelly offered none in her letter), and potentially libelous. This letter can be made available to anyone requesting it.

In the Review article, Ms. Kelly makes a number of other dishonest accusations, including one in which she accuses me of threatening her after a finance committee meeting, when in fact she is the one who made the threat, telling me “I’m gonna beat your ass!” and implying that her adult sons would carry this out. I took this threat of physical violence seriously enough to file a police report with the Forest Park Police Department.

She also reiterates a specious claim that I insulted another board member by calling her a “F–ing Bitch!” Anyone who genuinely knows me understands that I simply do not engage in that kind of behavior.

Furthermore, the person to whom I allegedly said it is fellow board member Claudia Medina. Ms. Medina and her husband are both highly talented musicians who have played in my band, and who, at my invitation, performed with me this past January at the memorial service for my late wife Donna. To claim that I would use this epithet against someone with whom I have had this kind of close relationship is, on its face, absurd.

I said at the board meeting, and I continue to believe, that the proposed change in term limits for the board president’s office is right. Not only does it align the review period for a president’s performance with the annual standard applied to every other board officer and administrator, but at it also directly addresses the continuing dishonesty, divisiveness, and abject failure of leadership of the current board president.

It is worth remembering that one year ago, Ms. Kelly was elected unanimously as board president. Since that time her relentless personal attacks against anyone who disagrees with her, as demonstrated so visibly in this most recent board meeting, have cost her the support of a majority of board members.

Senior administration members have talked about the “hostile work environment” fostered by the board president. The Financial Oversight Panel has also pointed to the “governance chaos” and micromanagement practices of the board president as areas of continuing concern to them.

District 209 faces many pressing problems, most prominently the urgent need for major upgrades to all of our buildings, a task that will require thoughtful discussion, careful planning, and respectful debate. I believe that the current board president is incapable of leading that effort. Her refusal to even allow the term limit policy change proposal to come to a vote demonstrates her obdurate intransigence in the face of actions she disagrees with.

For the good of the district, our students, our parents, our teachers and administrators, and the taxpayers who support us, we need to pass this term limit policy. VFP

Kevin McDermott is a member of the Proviso Township High Schools District 209 school board. 

P A I D  A D V E R T I S I N G

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7 thoughts on “Op-Ed: Kevin McDermott On Why D209’s Board Needs Presidential Term Limits”

  1. Kelly again claimed that the reason behind McDermott’s request for a change in policy was that McDermott wanted desperately to be board president himself, which McDermott angrily said was untrue. Kelly said she had even been approached by McDermott early after she was elected, and he allegedly told her he wanted to be president and he wanted her to support him.

    “When I won the election, Mr. McDermott wanted me to meet him. … I talked with him and he told me, ‘I’m going to the be the president.’”

    McDermott cried out that her allegation was “patently false.”

    Kelly then told him to “watch his disposition” and said he was subject to “temper tantrums,” then argued that McDermott was unsuited for the position because of anger problems.

    Kelly even went so far as to ask if, during a finance meeting, McDermott screamed at Kelly and intimidated his fellow board members and the district’s administration. Kelly alleged that Superintendent Nettie Collins-Hart felt threatened that McDermott “was going to hit her.” Medina asked if Collins-Hart felt intimidated during the finance meeting.

    “Due to the volatility, yes I did push back [from the table],” Collins-Hart said.

    Kelly also said that McDermott has called another member of the board an, “F-ing, I’ll spell it for you, B-I-T-C-H.”

    After reading this and the Op-Ed, I have to ask.

    If you did not call Claudia Medina a “F-ing Bitch”, Why didn’t Claudia come to your defense?

    Claudia was at the meeting, why didn’t she say, that’s not true?

    Why didn’t Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart come to your defense regarding the finance meeting? Matter of fact she stated above that she felt threatened. Once again, it seems like you are lying to the people.

    You are not being truthful with the people you serve about your behavior, integrity and your aggressive nature directed toward women. We expect better from our elected officials.

    See you next election.

  2. McDermott get your hat, get your coat and leave School Board District 209. You are as transparent as a piece of Saran Wrap. In my neighborhood its called a CHARLATAN, thats what you are. You were elected to the school board. No one cares what you think or feel about President Kelly.You are way out of line here. You have really messed up These issues were present when Chris Welch was president, you didnt try to introduce ‘term limit changes’ then why? Why? Who could trust you as a president, who doesnt get his way so he sits down and writes a newspaper telling President Kelly off. How juvenile of you. You revealed more about yourself than you should have. Leader you are NOT! You are not favored. You are not needed or wanted. After this letter its crystal to clear to the constituents of Proviso Township who is causing the ‘hostile work environment’ and that is YOU. Two words for you…..Kim Foxx……

  3. Here we go again……
    Please let us all attend the next meeting….why would Mr McDermott think anyone would believe these lies he is telling…

  4. Kevin McDermott clearly believes he is superior to others who do not look like him! It is clear in how he treats others and the way he votes. The only folks Kevin can work with are those who look like him! As far as him calling a board member an F……ing B…., I spoke to the husband personally and he confirmed that Kevin said exactly that! His pictures looks like an innocent angel, but there are fangs behind the smile.

  5. Wow! This is very childish. I did see President Theresa Kelly at the alumni meeting at Proviso East High School last Thursday, and she told me that the board meeting was extremely heavy and tiresome. I am sorry Mr. McDermott, but your ideas of changing District #209 is no longer needed.

  6. Mr. (and I use the term very lightly) McDermott, your true colors have truly been exposed through this self-serving op-ed. Your concern has never been the welfare of the students, faculty and staff of Proviso Township. You sit high on your perch and expect people to bow to you. Those days are over. The four board members you referred to as the “majority of school board members” are merely your flunkies. This is proven by the fact of how their votes coincide with yours on every school board issue.

    If you want to be school board president, have the gall and guts to come out and say it. But, please do not hide behind a spineless, cowardice op-ed. The residents and students of Proviso Township deserve so much more and you can rest assured, we WILL voice our opinions at the ballot box.

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