New SD 277 School Board Say They Were Excluded From Dinner

Olympia Fields, IL-(ENEWSPF)- Newly-elected School Board 227 members Shelia Hester-Whorton and Cheryl M. Coleman allege that they were not invited to a May 3 dinner hosted by Donna Simpson Leak at Mr. Beny’s in Matteson. In a letter to the media, the two say, "The dinner was for outgoing board members Jackie Upshaw and Tony Brunson."

The two further say they were not given the opportunity to thank supporters after they were sworn in, "unlike past ceremonies."

The text of their letter follows:

School board members are a part of a collective body with the responsibility of setting policies, monitoring and improving student achievement, and supporting the superintendent to ensure that our children have successful high school experiences. To achieve these goals the board must work collaboratively together in a professional and respectful manner and put all personal feelings aside.

On May 3rd, 2011 we were sworn in as new board members of School District 227.  Our families, friends, and supporters were there to share in the celebration. However, unlike past ceremonies, we were not given the opportunity to publicly thank our supporters, perhaps an oversight, but still a disappointment.

During the May 17th board meeting, we were to be presented with our official certificate of election. This was done by the board president quickly reading Cheryl Coleman’s certificate, handing it to her, and then just simply passing Hester-Whorton’s down to her. Again, no opportunity to publicly thank our supporters. Another oversight? It could be.

After understanding a potential concern of spending, the superintendent was called for verification of a dinner party and inquired who would be paying for the dinner. The superintendent responded that she would use her personal money. She did not report at that moment that she was hosting a dinner at Mr. Benny’s for outgoing board members; the thought was that the two new board members would finally be recognized by the board. Well, as the developing pattern became clear, it turned out that the celebratory dinner was exclusive, and that we, two new board members were excluded from the guest list. The dinner was for outgoing board members Jackie Upshaw and Tony Brunson. Another oversight? We think not.

The superintendent may host a dinner for whomever she chooses. That’s not the issue. But the exclusion of the two new board members appears divisive, disrespectful, and gives the appearance of lacking leadership skills. It shows the lack of acceptance of the new board members, who together received over 7,000 votes during the election and is a slap in the face to the community.

The public should know that while the superintendent and other sitting board members of 227 were having a fun-filled evening of celebration, We, Board Member Shelia Hester-Whorton and Board Member Cheryl M. Coleman were spending our Friday evening in a meeting with the Rich Central protesters who had not been approached by any other board member other than Board Member Dr. David Morgan since they started eight months ago. We listened to their concerns to improve our schools. We want to improve our board relationship with the community, coach our superintendent on student achievement, improve the school environment and give the new principal, parents and students a fresh start to a new year. If you can’t listen to two new board members maybe you can listen to 7000 voters.


Ms. Shelia Hester-Whorton and Mrs. Cheryl M. Coleman

New school board members

Rich Township High School District 227

Olympia Fields, Illinois 60461