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updated: 9/1/2012 9:49 AM

Grayslake Dist. 46 board member faces complaints

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  • Michael Carbone

    Michael Carbone

  • Keith Surroz

    Keith Surroz

  • Shannon Smigielski

    Shannon Smigielski


Two Grayslake Elementary District 46 employees have filed an internal complaint against board member Michael Carbone, stemming from an encounter with him during school registration of his child, officials confirmed.

Administrative assistants Janine Adams and Cheryl Tednes submitted the signed and notarized complaint with the school board and Superintendent Ellen Correll on Aug. 8. In part, they said they "felt threatened and worried" by Carbone during the Aug. 7 school registration event after he didn't indicate a payment on his daughter's paperwork and refused to sign a promissory note, as required.

Carbone is on the agenda for District 46's meeting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Grayslake Middle School. Along with board discussion about the formal complaint against Carbone, the evening's tentative agenda lists possible action in the form of a resolution "regarding behavior of board member toward staff."

Board Vice President Keith Surroz said the complaint sends a message to all District 46 elected officials that they should not bother employees. He added public discussion about the workers' accusations against Carbone is necessary because the board should be as open as possible.

"What would they (the two employees) say if the response is hush-hush, 'It's a board member and we can't bring it up,'" Surroz said.

In a statement issued Friday, Carbone said he believes the complaint was spurred by his board foes seeking "retribution" for making public a variety of actions at District 46.

That list includes Carbone calling attention to the hiring of former board member Michael Linder as a paid consultant in 2011, and ex-board President Mary Garcia's husband, Robert, landing a school maintenance job while she was an elected official in 2010.

"Once again, the board is attempting to defame my name by alleging that I acted improperly acting as a parent registering my daughter," Carbone said.

According to the complaint, Carbone approached Adams and handed her a registration packet for his child at Frederick School in Grayslake.

"Janine observed that there was no payment indicated on the paperwork and asked him if he would be making a payment today. He replied, 'Absolutely not,'" the internal complaint says.

Carbone also refused to sign a promissory note, according to the document. Adams stated she told Carbone she needed to find an administrator because student packets are not supposed to be given to parents without payment or a signed promissory note.

Both women contend in the complaint they approached board member Shannon Smigielski during the registration and quoted her as telling Carbone to sign the promissory note. Smigielski, who declined to comment, is a volunteer for Carbone's Nov. 6 Lake County Board campaign.

Tednes informed Carbone that District 46 board policy requires employees to secure a parent's signature on a promissory note if a payment problem arises. The complaint claims Carbone told the employees he pays $5,000 in taxes to District 46 and they were "opening up for a lawsuit" if he didn't receive the packet.

"Cheryl then said to him, 'As a board member, you are telling me not to listen to what the school board has told us we have to do.' Michael said he has never seen that paperwork, to which Shannon replied, 'Michael, those things have been in place for years,'" the complaint stated.

The document says Carbone later told Adams he had called his wife about the problem and she told him to sign the promissory note. Carbone printed and signed his wife's name on the form in front of witnesses, according to the complaint.

Tednes and Adams said in the complaint they "felt threatened and worried" about their longtime jobs after dealing with Carbone.

In March 2011, board members voted 6-1 to issue a public disapproval of Carbone known as a censure. Carbone, who was the lone dissenter, said there was no evidence showing he violated his oath of office or inappropriately sought personnel information to learn if full-time teachers skipped work to attend pro-union rallies in Madison, Wis.

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