New Lenox School Board member comes under fire
By Erin Gallagher Correspondent January 18, 2013 3:24PM
New Lenox School District 122 board member Maureen Broderick.
Updated: January 18, 2013 5:40PM
In an environment that Maureen Broderick likened to Nazi Germany, the New Lenox School Board member was publicly scolded last week over her role in removing a candidate from the election ballot.
Fellow board members and teachers called her “unethical,” “unprofessional” and “political.”
Many complained her actions have wasted money that, they said, could have been better spent on the students.
“I feel like we’re in a Gestapo age, the Hitler age when we can’t reach out and talk to friends,” Broderick said.
Broderick was referring to board President Nick DiSandro reprimanding her for asking a teacher for a copy of an email sent by union President Katie Kollross. The email alerted teachers about a school board public hearing. It is against board policy for members to contact teachers directly.
“I didn’t, but that’s fine,” Broderick said.
In a later interview, Broderick reversed her statement. At first she said teachers were calling her, not the other way around. Then she admitted to reaching out to a teacher she considered a friend. She said it is not fair that board members “lose all rights as citizens.”
“All of (the teachers who called me) were nervous for fear of getting in trouble for printing (the email) … I did contact (a teacher) as a friend,” she said. “Am I not allowed to have friends? I understand the breach now, and I guess the friendship has been severed.”
DiSandro claims Broderick filed an objection to fellow board member Kathy Miller’s petition for re-election, but had another person sign it. Broderick denies the claim, despite the fact that the document is identical to a second objection that Broderick signed against Thomas Hottinger, and later withdrew.
Had Broderick objected to any candidate’s petition, she would have been disqualified from the electoral board. As board secretary, she, along with DiSandro and the longest-sitting member, Sue Smith, comprised the three-person panel.
Broderick and Smith voted against Miller, even though the attorney for the school district provided case law siding with Miller. Miller has since filed an appeal.
DiSandro said the recent issues started when Broderick went to the district office to view the public petitions. She then announced to him and another staff member that she was going to submit two objections, but that she was going to have someone else sign the one against Miller.
Broderick then returned with two identical documents. The objection against Miller was signed by Nicole Sanders. Sanders never came into the district office, DiSandro said.
Broderick said she would not explain why the two objections were nearly identical. She said she cannot discuss it since Miller filed an appeal in Will County court.
Broderick said had either DiSandro or the attorney told her to recuse herself from the electoral board, she would have.
Later in the meeting, Broderick and Smith took jabs from Business Manager Harold Huang and Superintendent Michael Sass. They questioned why the board members were asking questions about working bonds, an issue not on the agenda.
The board announced there will be a public hearing Feb. 20 concerning the $5.6 million bond issue.
The district expects to have spent $4,000 in attorney fees and other services concerning these issues. That amount is expected to increase since Miller has filed an appeal.