Local, Park Forest, Politics, Schools

SD 163 Board Votes Against Hiring Board President Mosby’s Wife

Board Member Judy Hawthorne, Board President Walter Mosby, and Superintendent Caletha White at Monday's board meeting.
Board Member Judy Hawthorne, Board President Walter Mosby, and Superintendent Caletha White at Monday’s board meeting. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- In a contentious late-night session, School District 163 voted against hiring Belinda Mosby, wife of Board President Walter Mosby, as the district’s Grants and Budget Coordinator, a position now open with the resignation of Susan Lach. The matter came to a vote only after the board president bumped the Consent Agenda to after the board’s Executive Session. Three board members voted against hiring Ms. Mosby, two voted in favor, and three abstained. With that count, the motion failed. One board member justified his vote in favor of the hiring by apparently arguing that nepotism and favoritism have been a long-standing reality in the district and should be allowed to continue.

Belinda Mosby was on the agenda for board approval for the position as part of the Personnel section of the Consent Agenda at Monday’s meeting of the School Board. The Consent Agenda generally would be voted on prior to the board goes into Executive Session, but at this meeting, consent agenda items were moved to the end of the night to be voted on after the board emerged from the Executive Session.

That finally happened at 11 PM.

The Consent Agenda passed just after 11 PM minus the line item referring to Mr. Mosby’s wife and one item on Accounts Payable. Then it was time for “Agenda item A, line five, under classified,” Board President Mosby said. Board Member Randall White put the agenda item on the table with a motion, and there was a second. Mr. Mosby asked for a roll call vote. Mr. White then asked for time to ask questions.

Mr. White’s question took the form of a statement where he appeared to assert that nepotism and favoritism have been a long-standing reality in the district and should be allowed to continue.

After the board’s Executive Session, beginning just after 11 PM, the Board of Education votes to not hire the Board President’s wife. The entire late session included.

“I want to highlight that we had a superintendent that continued to give contracts to her son, and we never seen anything stated about it until I stated that. We had a board president that left this board and got a contract with the district. We never heard anything from the union, never anybody stand up and say something against that, but I did.”

Mr. White also asserted that a previous “very long-time board member” had “multiple people living in the same house with her that worked for this district: granddaughter and grandson and a daughter.”

Mr. White then mentioned a previous board member who resigned from the board and then took a job with the district.

Then, Mr. White argued in favor of favoritism and nepotism, suggesting that Mr. Mosby was being thrown “under the bus.”

“I’m not implying that we don’t do better or that we create better practices,” he said. “But what I’m implying is this, to throw someone under the bus to make them look bad for something that this board has practiced for doing for a long time, having relatives that’s related to them that works for this district, and then just the ultimate, the superintendent.” Again, without naming any names, he appeared to decry some who “made millions off the back of this district,” but concluded saying, “It’s been practiced in this district and not only has it been practiced in this district, it’s not breaking any laws of or any of our policies.”

Mr. White then voted, “Yes.”

The roll call continued. Takesha Howard was the only member to join Mr. White voting, “Yes.” Miss Howard mentioned that someone was “not working any longer,” and then voted “Yes.” Dr. Christina Dupee voted against, as did Jacqueline Jordan and Allison McCray. Judy Hawthorne and Board President Walter Mosby both abstained.

After the vote failed, the board president did not announce the result of the vote. Board member Randall White spoke up again, “I’m sorry, Mr. Mosby, that you have to be the one that has to go through that. I know everyone feels for you.” He then said he doesn’t “shame the media” because the media “is supposed to write on things and issues.”

Mr. White then said, “In this district we choose the battles we want to jump on top of according to a personality. It is a shame.”

Mr. White then lamented how “one man can win multiple contracts.”

He was then interrupted by board member Allison McCray, who said, “This is not open session.”

Mr. White cut her off, “I can say what I want to say.”

There then ensued a period of Mr. White and Ms. McCray talking over each other. This lasted for approximately 20 seconds when Mr. Mosby struck the gavel multiple times, but both Mr. White and Mr. McCray continued to argue until Mr. Mosby called Mr. White’s name twice. There was a momentary pause, then Mr. White and Ms. McCray continued to argue.

Dr. Dupee then asked that order be restored so the board might continue with its agenda. Mr. White then said, “I apologize.” Dr. Dupee then asserted that Mr. White was referring to issues that happened before she was on the board. Mr. White then yelled, “You was on the board!” Mr. White continued his thought in a loud voice until Mr. Mosby struck the gavel again and told the board they were moving on. Still, Mr. White argued another point loudly and Dr. Dupee responded.

This was not the first time that night Mr. White and Dr. Dupee had words. Before the Executive Session, in the open session, Dr. Dupee challenged Mr. White when he said he had previously reported on an item to his fellow board members. Dr. Dupee said he had not, and Mr. White countered that he had done so on Facebook. “I live on Facebook,” he said, apparently expecting Dr. Dupee to pick up on his Facebook chatter and comments as an official report to board members.

Dr. Dupee then reminded Mr. White that he blocked her on Facebook. This exchange, again, was in the earlier session.

The board finally began to advance to the next item on the Consent Agenda but still Randall White interrupted the proceedings before the next motion could be called for a vote. Board President Mosby said, “Mr. White, Mr. White, please.”

Before the meeting adjourned, Board President Mosby had some final thoughts, ostensibly on the failed motion to hire his wife, “To my fellow board members, as you know we have been elected to govern by policy, not by our opinions. It’s a sad day when board members are frightened to vote their…” He paused here.

“Conscience?” board member Allison McCray said.

“Not their conscience,” Mr. Mosby continued. “Their elected responsibility to adhere to policy that have been established. And so I thank you guys for the consideration.”

He then called for a motion to adjourn. The meeting ended at roughly 11:17 PM.

CORRECTION: In a previous article, I stated, “Aside from “guest” or substitute teachers, the district website does not list any specific positions available.” This last statement is incorrect. School District 163 does, in fact, list specific open positions available for people to apply for. Applications may also be made online. The previous article has also been noted with this erratum. We regret the error.

Raw video of the July 25 meeting of the SD 163 Board Meeting.