Theresa Kelly and Kevin McDermott | File
One Proviso High School District 209 board member reportedly suffered an arm injury and Forest Park police received two battery complaints after a debate between two board members at the Proviso Math and Science Academy on Tuesday allegedly turned physical after the meeting.
Tensions between board members Theresa Kelly, 73, and Kevin McDermott, 62, flared Aug. 9 after McDermott introduced a proposal for the school district to start video recording its own board meetings. Superintendent Jesse Rodriguez proposed a discussion of the issue at the next board meeting.
“Private citizens record the meetings,” said McDermott. “We ought to record them ourselves and have our own recordings.”
McDermott was referencing recent video recordings of board meetings by citizens such as members of the civic organization 209 Together, which posted a full video of the Aug. 9 meeting to its Facebook page.
Kelly ran with Forest Park residents Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina on the 209 Together slate in 2015.
“I’ve never heard that for eight years and you’ve been on the board for eight years,” Kelly told McDermott, according to the video recording of the meeting.
“We do have an election coming up and so I see that now you want to pose for the camera, huh, Mr. McDermott?” Kelly said.
McDermott said it was appropriate to introduce the proposal “because now we know technology is such that it’s pretty easy to do it, and it’s cost-effective to do it, and I think it’s a good idea to do it now.”
Not long into the debate, at around 10:30 p.m., board President Teresa McKelvy, who recently replaced Kelly as president, reminded members that a motion had been called to adjourn the two-and-a-half hour meeting. The motion passed 4 to 3, with board members Kelly, Medina and Wagner voting against it because not all of the meeting’s agenda items had been considered.
After the meeting ended, board members went to a nearby conference room to eat food that had been purchased from a nearby restaurant. Kelly said McDermott followed her into the room, where, unprovoked, he attacked her as the two were getting their food.
She said the only other person in the room was board member Ned Wagner, who couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.
“The man attacked me,” Kelly said in an Aug. 12 phone interview. “He attacked me.”
Kelly claims McDermott grabbed a box of chicken out of her hand and began grabbing her shoulder. She was taken to Rush Oak Park Hospital’s emergency room afterward, complaining of shoulder pain.
“I went to the police department after the incident happened,” Kelly said. “My arm is in a splint. … My shoulder is sprained and my upper arm is sprained from his pulling on my arm. He had no business grabbing me and assaulting me.”
McDermott reportedly claimed Kelly attacked him after the two reached for the same box of food. McDermott reportedly said that he grabbed her sleeve to try to stop her from hitting him.
Both Kelly and McDermott reportedly filed separate battery complaints.
“On the advice of my attorney, I will not be making any comments at this point,” McDermott said in a phone interview on Friday. VFP