Photo courtesy of Rob Reed
Introduce yourself. What do you do?
I’m the chief operations officer for the International Bank of Chicago. Previously, I was the anti-money-laundering officer for the bank, where I [worked] with state and federal agencies to prevent terrorists [and] drug, human, weapons and sex traffickers from using the financial system. I graduated in three years instead of four years of high school, I went to my undergrad at Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., where I was able to capture a triple major in Finance, Economics and Business Administration. Ultimately, I ended up at the University of Notre Dame for my master’s degree.
What do you hope is accomplished by the board if you’re elected?
There are significant deficiencies in our infrastructure that have come to light. We have classrooms without doors on them [and] classrooms where you have to walk through classrooms to get to other classrooms. We need to work towards equity for all students to receive the best possible school experience they can. We’re not seeing that right now. We were lucky we had a close to one-on-one device per student ratio. We have guidance coming down from the state on new education policies that are inconsistent [and] could be easily interpreted 100 different ways. This is where the board needs to step in and say, ‘these are guidelines that we expect you to follow.’
What are your thoughts on the current district COVID-19 response? What is going well? What would you change?
There needs to be a change in leadership. We don’t know what’s going on. We just get shoved something in an email or in a board meeting, and we are just supposed to figure it out. We haven’t heard from the teachers on this. You can’t tell me we’re at the same place we should have been if you guys were in school full time. Why can’t we all have what we need right now? The only reason we can is because there’s not a plan out there to do it. I think things are overly complicated that do not need to be. I would not put the open forum in the beginning of the [meetings], because unfortunately you have a lot of people going up there, screaming, complaining and upset. You have to get people to stay for the front of the meeting, which [has] the information that needs to get out to them. I would not have returned the $10 million, I would have utilized it to figure out these challenges with the buildings and what the administration needs.
Are you in support of mandatory COVID testing or a mandatory COVID vaccine requirement from the state for students to learn in-person next fall? (Aside from medical or other exemptions?)
I actually think [surveillance tests] should be implemented across the board. I think that’s going to make more people feel safer to bring their kids in [and] make the teachers feel safer as well. We also need to make sure that the records and the administration portion of that is accurate. I’m not against mandatory vaccination, but the state is going to overrule anything the board is going to say on that.
During the Aug. 17 meeting, the current board passed “Resolution affirming the authority of the superintendent to implement Return to Learn plan for 2020-2021 school year.” Any thoughts?
My understanding was that [the] board resolution to provide transfer of temporary power was not needed. In their minds they did this to be more transparent as to what was going on, [but] in our minds we see [power] being transferred. The way I read the policy is that the board is there to help provide guidance; the superintendent is there to implement. Why give up your guidance at this point in time?
How can we as a district address issues regarding racism, bias, diversity, equity and inclusion?
There has to be consequences [for] the actions of children. By allowing students to get away with no consequences, we’re not teaching them proper life lessons that are going to help them get through life and be successful. The education that my kids have received as far as social awareness has been pretty good. They’re aware of these things and they’re in fourth and sixth grade. The education piece of it is pretty good; the consequence piece of it is not.
One last thing: why should people vote for you?
People should vote for me because I’ll be honest with them. I don’t feel the need to hide. I’m going to listen to everybody’s perspective and try to do what’s best across the board for the kids. My whole goal in coming here was to provide the best education that I could for them. I’m seeing the struggle, the toll taken on kids, teachers [and] parents. We can make it better if we work differently.
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