Tag: ShawnTe Raines-Welch

Cook County Chronicle: D209 Board Divided Over Law Firm’s Hiring

Proviso TogetherTuesday, November 10, 2015 || Originally Published: Cook County Chronicle || By Bill Dwyer

Cracks are appearing in the coalition that just this past April took over governance of the Proviso High Schools District 209 board.

Just one week after signing a joint contract with the Robbins Schwartz and Grasso Bass law firms as its new legal counsel, the D209 board will consider an agenda item to rescind that contract.

The controversy arises as Board President Teresa Kelly asked its new legal counsel to review all district contracts.

Board member Brian Cross and Vice President Kevin McDermott say the action is necessary due to concerns about the alleged political involvement of both Robbins Schwartz and Grasso Bass principal Tony Bass, and Bass’s purported lack of educational law experience.

Cross said Saturday that the process felt “very rushed,” and that after he looked further at the new law firms, “It just didn’t smell right.”

Other members of the new board majority, including Kelly, (pictured above center) Secretary Claudia Medina (pictured above right) and Nathan “Ned” Wagner, (pictured above left), say that concern is unfounded and is a blatant attempt to “sabotage” the board’s hiring decision.

Kelly noted that Robbins Schwartz works for “65 school districts” and called them “a pioneer of school law.”

“To try to bring that (firm) down, either one of these (firms) is just wrong,” Kelly said.

Medina, who helped lead the five-month long process for the Request for Proposals that led to the selection of the law firms, said the board approved the new firm’s hiring by a 5-1 vote in late October. A contract was signed Nov. 2.

On Thursday Nov. 5, Cross’ agenda item appeared. Cross is a political loyalist to former board president Emanuel “Chris” Welch, a long-time political ally and supporter of Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, who has ties to DelGaldo.

Cross called the process “rushed” and said, “I’m not going to get the attorney I want. (But) I just want a fair fight.”

In April, Welch’s three hand-picked school board candidates, including his wife ShawnTe, were defeated by a reform slate headed by long-time D209 board member Kelly.

DelGaldo and Associates applied for consideration in the recent selection process, but did not make the final list.

Medina said the allegation that the selection process was rushed is simply wrong.

“I’m vehemently against a board member sabotaging a five-months long process to hire a law firm. They had five months to research this,” she said.

That process, she noted, included a detailed matrix outlining the standards and qualities sought in a new legal counsel.

“No (non-majority) board member bothered to do any research on this. None,” she said.

McDermott and Cross both insisted there are legitimate concerns to discuss. McDermott said Robbins Schwartz “materially misrepresented the composition of their legal team,” saying the firm’s Bob Riley “assured us that Grasso Bass would play a minor role and Robbins Schwartz would lead the team.”

“During our interview process several board members expressed concern that the tiny law firm of Grasso Bass, whose attorneys have very little experience in school law, were part of the bid. Mr. Bob Riley of Robbins Schwartz, who presented himself as the lead attorney on the Proviso account,“ McDermott said.

“Events suggest that Robbins Schwartz takes its direction from Anthony Bass, not vice versa. This is definitely not the arrangement that many of us thought we were voting on,” he said.

“We specifically asked to not have Tony Bass,” Cross said. “Now we see he’s the main guy.” Bass, he said, “doesn’t have the educational background” needed for a large district like Proviso.

However, Kelly said Anthony Bass would have a limited role, handling only contracts and minority hiring.

Medina said the concerns over Bass’ expertise are the result of a smear campaign that started during his tenure in Thornton District 205.

Edward Crayton served as vice president of the southwest suburban Thornton High School board from 2011 to 2015. He was part of a majority opposed to the practices of then-board president Kenneth Williams, a convicted felon.

Crayton’s new majority brought in Grasso Bass and Robbins Schwartz to correct what he said were a litany of mistakes and overbilling by the previous law firm.

“I found their work to be extremely professional and extremely helpful,” Crayton said of Grasso Bass. “They helped us take a proactive approach to things.”

Of Bass himself, Crayton said, “My experience was nothing but positive.” He accused members of Williams’ board faction of spreading lies about Bass.

“Mr. Bass told them ‘no,’” Crayton said. “From that point it became a smear campaign by some members of the school board.”

McDermott also noted that Robbins Schwartz was part of the recent contracting scandal at College of DuPage, something he says he finds disqualifying.

“Although I am embarrassed to admit this, we did not conduct sufficient due diligence on this firm before selecting them,” McDermott said. “Had we done so, we would have found that they were intimately involved in the enormous financial scandal that erupted at the College of DuPage. The Chicago Tribune singled out Robbins Schwartz as a key beneficiary of the misspent money at COD.”

The Tribune article does not disclose whether the $1.6 million paid to Robbins Schwartz since 2010 (actually, $3.3 million between 2005-2015) was “misspent,” only that a member of the firm served on the college’s foundation board.

McDermott also accused Robbins Schwartz of misrepresenting their involvement in local politics. He and others, he said, “have struggled with the apparent conflict of interest presented by law firms that support slates of candidates in local elections, and the desire of the board was to find a firm that did not engage in this potential conflict of interest.”

“Yet, once again embarrassingly, a bit of too-late due diligence reveals that Robbins Schwartz is actively engaged in this type of activity, to the tune of more than $81,000 over the last span of years.

Medina said that’s just not true, saying, “We checked each of the law firms. They were no large checks like we were seeing with DelGaldo and Chris Welch. They’re trying to make small things look suspicious.”

A review of the political contributions of the law firms applying at D209 shows that all of them contribute politically to a greater or lesser degree, with Robbins Schwartz falling in the middle.

The Illinois State Board of Elections filings indicate that with two exceptions, Robbins Schwartz’s contributions were smaller than DelGaldo, who has contributed $311,080.98 since 2002. DelGaldo gave $9,387.83 to Welch-backed D209 candidates in 2013 and $8,214.14 to Welch’s D209 slate in 2015.

Robbins Schwartz’s largest donations were $10,000 in 2011 and $7,500 in 2000 to a campaign to issue bonds for improvements at Harper College in Palatine. Between 2005 and 2014 the firm made 13 contributions totaling $11,150 to Alsip Citizens for Independent Candidates. And this June it gave $5,000 to Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar’s campaign.

With the exception of a couple $1,000 contributions, the rest of their contributions since 1999 were between $200 and $600, totaling approximately $57,000 to 34 separate campaigns, with no donations to the College of DuPage.

Anthony Bass personally made regular non-major donations to several politicians and political groups between 2000 and 2013, including $5,300 to former Recorder of Deeds Eugene Moore, $10,120 to the Chicago 8th Ward Democrats and $10,100 to Todd Stroger.

Kelly said she believed the motive for challenging the new legal counsel was the district’s pending review of district contracts, including all insurance fees and a 2014 no-bid contract worth $5 million.

“I asked the superintendent to direct the administrator contracts and the insurance contracts and all vendor contracts to the new law firm,” Kelly said.  “That’s what I feel they’re afraid of here,” (Bass) is going to come in and clean stuff up. He’s known for it.”

Wagner, who opined, “What I want is to stand by our choice,” said that however the board proceeds, it needs to be deliberate.

“Robbins Schwartz and Grasso Bass have not done anything to merit rescinding their contract,” he said. Noting that the board worked in “a reasoned and measured way together” to select the two law firms, Wagner said the board needs to do the same with Cross’s request.

“We’re going to pull that item from the consent agenda and we will discuss it in public,” he said. VFP

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In Wake of Triton Trustee Opening, is Maywood Demanding Representation on College’s Board?

Triton headshots

Sanchez, Hoskins and Raines-Welch. School Board Focus West

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 || Originally Published: School Board Focus West || By Jean Lotus

A seat on the Triton College board of trustees has opened up, leading to speculation amongst local west-Cook politics watchers as to who will be appointed to fill the vacancy.

The community college is also on the hunt for a new president, after the retirement of Patricia Granados.

In April Forest Park Village Clerk Vanessa Moritz walked away after just two years — and the resignation was announced during the June 16 board meeting.

Moritz told the Forest Park Review  she “just didn’t really like it” and, “It just really wasn’t right for me.” The Triton board has 60 days to fill the empty seat.

Political guessing abounds as to who will be chosen to fill the slot.

Membership on the Triton College Board of Trustees — under the helm of President Mark Stephens for the past 23 years — has been considered a political balancing act between Rosemont’s Stephens clan and Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, Sr.

The two pols have a long history with the River Grove community college. Stephens has served on the board for almost three decades, and Serpico’s father, Ralph “Babe” Serpico was one of the founders of the school in 1964, and served on the first board of trustees.

Outgoing  trustee Moritz, who is Forest Park’s mayorally appointed village clerk, was Calderone’s representative on the Triton board. Whomever is appointed would serve out Moritz’s term and then run again in 2017.

Some Forest Parkers are predicting former Forest Park Village Commissioner Rory Hoskins may be appointed. Hoskins served two terms as commissioner, and showed he had bigger political ambitions when he lost a 7th District run against Emanuel “Chris”  Welch by a handful of votes in 2013.

This past April, Hoskins suddenly threw his support at the last minute behind incumbent Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone, who squeaked into a win with just over 100 votes.

While Calderone’s political prestige beyond Forest Park was dulled by his being unable to deliver a strong local vote for the Serpico-backed Proviso Township High School District 209 school board slate, he still likely has Serpico’s ear and might be able to advocate for Hoskins.

Other observers think ShawnTe Raines Welch, attorney and wife of Chris Welch, may have the seat waiting. Raines Welch, of Hillside, headed an unsuccessful slate of candidates that lost badly in a school board race for D209, in the process costing Serpico control of the school board.

Welch and his wife have been longtime allies and political contributors to and beneficiaries of Serpico, but the most recent school board loss may have strained those ties.

Still others believe Maywood political forces may be demanding representation on the Triton board behind the scenes. A possible candidate may be Antonio “Tony” Sanchez, who owns Mariella’s Banquets in Maywood with his father. Sanchez formerly lived in Forest Park, and was voted in as commissioner on the Maywood Park District, but was disqualified because he had not been a resident long enough. Sanchez donated $400 to Ron Serpico’s campaign in 2013.

Still others think the slot may go to someone closer to the Rosemont crew: Possibly a nominee suggested by 9th District Cook County Commissioner Peter Sylvestri. Triton Board Secretary Diane Viverito lives in Melrose Park, but has been an executive secretary for Sylvestri for decades.

The Triton District 504 feeder community  is composed of 25 towns between Rosemont and Riverside north-to-south and Oak Park to Berkeley east-to-west.

Current trustees are:

•Chairman: Mark Stephens, Rosemont;

•Vice Chairman Donna Peluso, Melrose Park

•Secretary, Diane Viverito,  Melrose Park

•Luke Casson, Oak Park

•Glover Johnson, Oak Park

•Elizabeth Potter, Brookfield

• Student Trustee: J. Gustavo Munoz.

Anyone interested in being considered for a trustee position should submit a letter of interest and resume to Susan Page, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, Triton College, Office of the President, Building A, Room A-301, 2000 N. Fifth Avenue, River Grove, IL 60171, by July 16. VFP

Analyzing Campaign Cash in D209 Board Race

Children FirstFriday, April 17, 2015 || Originally Published: School Board Focus West || By Jean Lotus 

A grassroots campaign of motivated volunteers, many from Forest Park, toppled a 15-year majority on the school board of Proviso Township High School District 209 this April. How did it happen? Campaign contributions to the political committees of each slate tell part of the story.

The Proviso Children’s First Party raised almost 50 percent more money than the Proviso Together slate of Theresa Kelly, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner. For the 12,093 ballots cast in the race, Kelly, Medina and Wagner raised $2.44 per vote while Children’s First raised $3.67, nearly 50 percent more.

Analyzing how the money flows in local elections is mostly a hindsight game, as the State of Illinois does not require political committees to disclose contributions until April 15, after the votes have been counted for local elections the first Tuesday of April. Furthermore, by that date candidates are only required to disclose contributions and disbursements up until April 1. This leaves money-shifting in a campaign’s final days under wraps until July, when committees disclose their second quarter numbers.

But in the case of District 209, illuminating differences show up between the committees of Proviso Together and Proviso Children’s First Party in the amounts donated, number of donors and the people writing checks.

Citizens for Kelly, Medina and Wagner raised $29,477 between Jan. 1 –March 31, including in-kind donations. The Proviso Children’s First Party raised almost 50 percent more, reporting $44,339 in all contributions.

A difference was the Children’s First slate received a much higher amount of in-kind donations, including last-minute printing donations totaling $11,664 reported April 1 from 7th District State Rep. Chris Welch and Del Galdo Law Group, the school district’s law firm.

The number of donors and amounts given also underscores the differences in the campaigns. As might be expected in a grass-roots campaign, Kelly, Medina and Wagner received donations from 35 individual donors, many of whom had Forest Park addresses. Donations were small but frequent, ranging from $25 to $650 for a total of 96. One local politician, Forest Park Village Commissioner and mayoral candidate Chris Harris, gave three donations totaling $355.

The Children’s First committee was able to take in more money from fewer donors, and stretched its fundraising reach to politicians outside Proviso Township. The committee reported 17 total donations between Feb. 22– when it was formed — and April 1.

Political transfers

Children’s First received $500 each from the war chests of Mayor Larry Dominick of Cicero; 92nd Dist. Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth of Peoria and the SEIU Local 73 PAC. Proviso Township Supervisor Michael Corrigan also kicked in $500.

During this timeframe these politicians also transferred money among and between the political campaign chests of mayors Ron Serpico of Melrose Park; Christopher Getty of Lyons and Steve Landek of Bridgeview, as well as Cook County Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolsky of McCook.

Another familiar political name to Forest Parkers was Forest Park’s hired lobbyist Matthew O’Shea who donated $500 to Children’s First. O’Shea pops up on Welch’s campaign donor list multiple times over the past several years.

Self-financing:

The amount of money contributed by candidates and their households was almost 10 times higher by Children’s First candidates than the Kelly-Medina-Wagner slate.

Candidates Francine Harrell, Teddy Matthews and ShawnTe Raines-Welch each donated $5,000 to the committee. When family contributions from Chris Welch to his wife’s campaign are included, the total amount self-financed was $20,075.

In contrast Nathan “Ned” Wagner and family members donated around $1,900 to the campaign, and candidate Theresa Kelly donated $850.

Business donations

Other heavy-hitters to the Children’s First campaign included businesses Restore Construction ($1,000) and M & M Building Services ($250), both vendors to the school district. Both companies were hired in the $5 million reconstruction of Proviso East High School after a May 2014 fire.

There was only one business donation to Kelly Medina and Wagner: $500 from Circle F Properties in Naperville.

Proviso District 209 School Board race by the numbers:

Proviso Together vs. Children’s First

Number of donors: 35 vs. 13

Number of donations: 95 vs. 17

Contributed $ per vote $2.49 vs. $3.67

Candidate self-financing $2,750 vs. $20,075

Political committee transfers $0 vs. $2,000

Total contributions $29,477 vs. $44,339 VFP

Contact: schoolboardfocuswest@gmail.com. 

Breaking: Proviso Together Top Children First in D209 Board Race

D209 election Tuesday, April 7, 2015 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Jean Lotus

With seven precincts still unreported out of 88 in Proviso, the Proviso Township High School candidates Theresa Kelly, Claudia Medina and Ned Wagner had a healthy lead of at least 1,300 votes over the fourth-top vote getter Teddy  Matthews, but it’s not over til it’s over.

If the Proviso Together slate wins the race, they will form a new board majority at the troubled high school district.

Theresa Kelly snagged the most votes with 19.87 percent of the total 10,923 ballots cast at 5,727 votes. Nathan “Ned” Wagner was second with 17.87 percent, or 5,150. Claudia Medina collected 16.78 percent, or 4,835 votes. Members of the Children’s First slate lagged Proviso Together. From that slate, Theodore Matthews placed fourth with 14.49 percent, or 4,175 and ShawnTe Raines-Welch and incumbent Francine Harrell were fourth and fifth with 12.22 percent (3,522) and 11.57 percent (3,330). Independent candidate Cheryl Anderson got 7.21 percent or  2,077 votes.

Forest Park’s Fatduck restaurant was filled with supporters from across Proviso Township Tuesday night, scarcely willing to believe they were so far ahead and what a journey they had made.

Although no precinct totals were released right away, the word at the polls was that turnout was very low in all precincts except Forest Park. In the village, the street-heat from two local parents, Medina and Wagner, who brought an organic campaign of parents and friends to the township level by partnering with incumbent Theresa Kelly of Maywood and board member Kevin McDermott of Westchester. Kelly and McDermott have been underdogs on the board for years, and are often the lone dissenters in votes split five-to-two.

“We did this with honesty, we did this with integrity, we did this with love,” Claudia Medina told supporters.

Medina told the crowd how she decided to run a week-and-a-half before petitions were due. Attending a D209 board meeting, she said she cried when she heard about a student who had been shot and killed while on suspension for fighting. Wagner said he attended a D209 board meeting in November 2014 and heard parents begging the board not to expel their sons for a single fight – after a change in policy.

Campaign coordinator Ken Snyder of Forest Park, who serves as political director of the Unite Here Hotel Workers Union, said he was sick of losing neighbors who moved away from Forest Park when their children got to middle school.

“I saw people I like move out and I was worried about the future of my kids,” he said.

Theresa Kelly said she was tired, but felt “good, excellent, marvelous.”

“This is a movement, not a campaign, not an election. It is a movement,” she said. “Everyone came together for the kids.”

Rev. Robert Jones, of Plainfield, a Proviso East alum, cautioned that even with a majority on the board, working together was the only way forward.

“This change is long overdue, long overdue,” he said. But the goal has to be to unite to do what’s best for kids in the district. Everyone must come together to make that happen.” Other Proviso notables in the crowd were Della Patterson, Antoinette Gray and Gary Woll of Maywood.

The campaign was a departure from Forest Park’s 40-year past arm’s-length relationship with the school district that many parents boycotted. The last Forest Parker to serve on the D 209 school board was Bob Cox who served from 2007-2011.

At a meeting of parents at the Brown Cow ice cream parlor on Madison Street in November 2014 long-time resident Bill Lichtenberg, whose children graduated years ago, pointed out that other parents in Proviso’s 10 feeder schools were equally dissatisfied with their high school options.

Connie Brown, owner of the Brown Cow, instantly jumped at the idea. “There has to be an option that gets everybody what they need,” she said, and the seeds of the campaign were sowed.

Although the campaign contribution amounts will not be published by the Illinois State Board of Elections until April 15, the Proviso Children First party of Raines-Welch, Harrell and Matthews was said to have outspent Medina, Wagner and Kelly by three-to-one.

Raines-Welch, Harrell and Matthews did not return texts for comment before press time. VFP

Proviso East Principal Tony Valente Demoted to Dean

Valente BioPicWednesday, April 1, 2015 || Originally Published: Forest Park Review || By Bob Skolnik

At a special meeting Tuesday night, just a week before Election Day, the Proviso Township High School District 209 Board of Education voted to demote Proviso East principal Tony Valente to a dean’s role next year. The vote was 5 to 2.

The two school board members who voted no, Theresa Kelly and Kevin McDermott, did so because, while they agreed with terminating Valente as principal, they did not want him as a dean, either.

“Both Theresa and I felt that he should not have been rehired as a dean, but since it was a combined vote, the only way we could vote on it was to say no,” said McDermott, who declined to say why he wanted to terminate Valente.

“On issues like this, like personnel stuff, there’s nothing I can say that’s going to be helpful, so I have no comment on that,” he said.

Valente, who made $144,591 for the 2013-14 school year, according to the district’s website, will serve as principal for the remainder of the current school year before becoming a dean next year. The school district did not immediately respond to a request for Valente’s salary next year.

School board President Dan Adams declined to comment after the meeting when asked why the board decided to demote Valente, who has been principal at Proviso East since 2011.

Valente’s father-in-law is Manny Sanchez, the founding partner of the law firm Sanchez, Hoffman & Daniels where former D209 school board president and current state Rep. Chris Welch is a partner.

Antoinette Gray, a Maywood resident and business owner and a Proviso activist is no fan of Valente.

“He doesn’t know the needs of our students, period,” said Gray, who graduated from Proviso East in 1996. “If he couldn’t relate to our students as the principal of the school, as the head of the school, what makes them think he’s going to be effective as dean? It should have been a full termination.”

Valente did not return a call from the Forest Park Review asking for comment on his demotion.

Gray believes that demoting Valente is a political move, because the poor performance of Proviso East has been an issue in the hotly contested D209 school board race.

“I actually believe it’s a political ploy, to be quite honest with you,” Gray said. “As you know, this is an election year and a lot of the issues at Proviso East have been brought to light by the Proviso [209] Together team. I really don’t think there is any sincerity, because if they were truly unsatisfied with his performance, he would be completely terminated.”

Kelly is running for re-election on a slate with Forest Park residents Ned Wagner and Claudia Medina under the D209 Together banner, while incumbent Francine Harrell is running with Welch’s wife, ShawnTe Raines-Welch, and Theodore Matthews under the banner of the Children First Party.

Valente began his career as a history teacher at Proviso East and stayed there until 2001, when he became a dean at West Aurora High School.

Under Valente, test scores at Proviso East have recently improved from a very low level. Last year, 21 percent of Proviso East juniors met or exceeded state standards on the Illinois Scholastic Aptitude Test (ISAT) compared to just 16 percent in 2013.

However, according to the Illinois School Report Card, only 7 percent of Proviso East juniors are considered college-ready. Proviso East has a graduation rate of 58 percent and 65 percent of Proviso East students are classified as low-income. VFP

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District 209 Candidates Putting ‘Children First’

Children FirstFrancine Harrell, Theodore Matthews and ShawTe M. Raines-Welch (courtesy Facebook).

Tuesday, December 6, 2015 || Originally Published by Forest Park Review || Nicholas Samuel, Contributing Reporter

Matthews, Harrell and Raines-Welch want to solve problems instead of complaining, candidates say

Three candidates calling themselves The Children First Party have big plans for Proviso Township High School District 209 if they are elected board members for the April 7, 2015 election.

Theodore “Teddy” Matthews, Francine Harrell and ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch, who are running as a slate, say they’re dedicated to putting the youth first and solving the issues in D209 instead of complaining.

Theodore “Teddy Matthews

Matthews, youth minister at the Rock of Ages Baptist Church in Maywood, decided to run because of his passion for the students. 

“The reality of it is our students need advocates,” Matthews said. “They’re suffering from a multitude of issues and they need us. They haven’t been afforded some of the opportunities even my generation was provided with.”

Matthews wants to see a continued push to support the district’s local grade schools that feed into high schools. He also wants to see updated technology within D209 that promotes 21st century learning.

“Earlier this year there was an issue with students [not] having books in some of the schools. Students and parents need to have continued access to those types of things. We need shared accountability,” Matthews said.

If elected, Matthews plans to collaborate with local churches, community organizations and state legislators to help implement these changes to D209.

“The district can’t do it alone,” said Matthews, a life-long Maywood resident. “I’m a huge advocate for connecting the community to the district as a whole.”

Aside from ministering to youth at the Rock of Ages Church, Matthews is also the founder of The Empowerment Academy, a nonprofit that focuses on youth empowerment, job readiness, promoting activism, college preparation and mental learning through sports activities.

Matthews is also one of the founding members of Parent University hosted by the Strengthening Proviso College and Career Readiness Committee.

Matthews, a newlywed, is married to Jeri Matthews. He is currently furthering his education at Concordia University of Chicago in River Forest.

Incumbent Francine Harrell

Harrell, an incumbent for D209, said the district has the best superintendent [Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart] in the world and that she thinks test scores and the graduation rate will continue to rise.

She said the district has more Advanced Placement classes now compared to previous years and that she wants to see more barber and beauty school classes.

“Lots of children don’t want to go to college, but if they’re offered a trade maybe they’ll want to do that. Barbers make a lot of money,” Harrell said. “We want them to go to college and at least be ready for the workforce.”

Harrell, a retired human resources associate for ComEd, said she would like to see nursing programs brought into D209 schools.

If elected, Harrell would be serving her second term as school board member for D209. The incumbent has lived in Broadview for nearly 25 years and has been married to her husband Jerry for 49 years.

She has four adult children, 12 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

One of her adult children graduated from Proviso West High School, five of her grandchildren graduated from Proviso East High School and two currently attend East. Two of her great-grandchildren currently attend Lindop Elementary School.

ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch

ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch, lawyer for Sanchez Daniels & Hoffman LLP law firm specializing in representing schools and municipalities, wants more accountability to be held with administration and parents in D209. She is the wife of  7th District State Representative Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who served 10 years as D209 school board president. 

She said the district needs forward thinking individuals.

“Sometimes when you’ve been in a position for a long time you get complacent and lose sight of what your future could be,” Raines-Welch said. “As an educator, the question should be what can I do now to prepare my students for the future?”

Raines-Welch, a nearly lifelong resident of Hillside, said students in D209 aren’t learning traditional values such as having a dual parent household.

“I think that piece is missing. It wasn’t missing when I attended Proviso West High School,” she said. “We had home economics and woodshop classes.”

The Hillside resident also wants to see a technology acquisition program implemented in district schools so students can have the technology they need for school such as tablets.

“Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy [PMSA] has state of the art computer labs where they’re learning robotics. I would like to see that in Proviso East and West High Schools,” Welch said.

Welch has been married for four years and has two children. She is also a commissioner on the Proviso Township Mental Health Commission and a former board member of the Answer, Inc.

Other candidates running for D209 board are Forest Parkers Claudia Medina and Nathan “Ned” Wagner, and Incumbent Theresa Kelly, of Maywood. Candidate hopeful Cheryl Anderson, of Melrose Park, faces a nominating paperwork challenge hearing Jan. 7 at the Cook County Electoral Board. VFP

District 209 Board Race Shaping Up to be a Battle of Opposing Visions

209 togetherthe children first party

Monday, December 29, 2014 || By Michael Romain

The race to fill the three vacancies on the District 209 Board of Education may turn out to be among the most interesting local races in next year’s election. That race features two strong slates and one relatively unknown candidate from Melrose Park–Cheryl Anderson.

Next year’s school board election may be among the first to feature serious candidates from Forest Park. This year, Maywood’s eastern neighbor, well-known for its deep frustration with District 209 high schools, launched a loose organization of residents and stakeholders from throughout Proviso Township known as “209 Together”. The group has met in Forest Park several times, started a Facebook group that has about239 members and has even turned up at school board meetings to voice their concerns.

The group is animated by its anger over a school district that many say has been the source of broken relationships. A common experience among Forest Parkers, by many accounts, is the long, hard goodbye from one neighbor or friend or relative to the next once children hit high school age and parents must decide between moving to a place with better schools or enduring the infamous ‘double taxation’ of private school expenses.

Recognizing that any hope of separating itself from District 209 may prove ultimately futile, the Forest Park residents involved in “209 Together” decided to channel their anger and discontent into activism, linking arms with allies across borders in the process. That cross-border mobilization has resulted in a slate that features Forest Park residents — Claudia Medina and Nathan “Ned” Wagner — and 209’s longest-serving board member, Maywood resident Theresa Kelly.

They’ll all be pitted against what many among “209 Together” believe to be the source of much of their frustration, or at least a potent symbol–the growing reach of former 209 Board President turned State Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch (D-7th).  Welch, who was a driving force behind much of what happened during his more than ten years as board member and/or president between 2001 and 2013, is still, according to sources, a very active presence in the board’s administration.

Welch is throwing his tremendous influence behind a slate that features sitting District 209 board member Francine Harrell, who was elected to the board in 2011; his wife, municipal lawyer ShawnTe M. Raines-Welch; and Rock of Ages youth minister Theodore Matthews. The move by Welch to back his own slate is either a measure taken to secure the progress the district has made since the beginning of the new millennium or a power move to solidify control, depending on the perspective.

Supporters of the slate, which is called “The Children First Party,” say that it features candidates with backgrounds strong enough to stand on their own merits, regardless of the politics involved. In addition, Welch has recently been rather vocal in touting some of the district’s achievements this past year, which include PMSA’s ranking among top high schools in the country by Newsweek magazine. VFP

Below is a listing of candidates running for some of the local elementary school districts in the Proviso Township area. For a complete listing of suburban school candidates in Cook County, click here:

Bellwood District 88

Bellwood D88

Maywood-Melrose Park-Broadview District 89

 Bellwood 88

Lindop District 92 || Westchester District 92 1/2 || Hillside District 93

Lindop92_West921-2_Hillside93