Two days before a new board majority is sworn in, outgoing Palatine Elementary District 15 board members Monday appointed one-time candidate David Border to fill a vacancy on the board.
Border will be sworn in Wednesday with the five winning candidates in the April 4 election who ran as the Engage D15 slate.
The move to appoint a replacement for Jessica Morrison, who resigned April 12 because she is moving out of the district, drew criticism on social media as soon as the board started accepting resumes from those interested in replacing her. During a special board meeting Monday night, board members heard that criticism in person.
"The voters spoke in early April," said Ed Richter of Palatine, one of five residents to address the board. "They did not want you to represent them any longer. The bottom line is you have not been transparent to the voters of the district and the children."
But after nearly two hours interviewing three finalists behind closed doors, the board came back to open session and voted 5-0 to appoint Border, who lost to Barb Kain in a race for a 2-year term. Border, a senior vice president at Allstate, served on the district's facilities committee that recommended a controversial $130 million bond issue, which voters overwhelmingly rejected in a referendum last November. He will serve the remaining two years on Morrison's term.
Board President Peggy Babcock defended the decision to make an appointment, arguing the outgoing board has governance experience the incoming board doesn't, as well as a "deep understanding" of the challenges the new board will face. She criticized "conspiracy theories" from critics who questioned the board's motivations.
Under Illinois law, the board has 45 days to fill any vacancy, meaning either the current board or the new board could have made the appointment.
Lisa Szczupaj, who was among the winning five-candidate slate, said the new board members asked to be part of the process -- whether by picking finalists or by sitting in on interviews. Even though that didn't happen, she said they would work with Border.
"It doesn't matter who is in the seat," Szczupaj said. "We're going to figure out a way to collaborate."
Twenty-four people applied for the open spot by the April 19 deadline, after which board members reviewed applications and ranked their top three to invite back for interviews. One of the original applicants was outgoing board member Gerald Chapman, who later decided to take his hat out of the ring. Chapman, a losing candidate in the April election, also formally resigned from the board Sunday and didn't participate in the selection of a new board member Monday.
"As a result of relentless animosity for this man and a petition drive to halt the process, he withdrew his application," said Babcock, who told critics in the audience, "Shame on all of you."
She said the outgoing board made no apologies for some of its "bold proposals," including the controversial 10-year teacher contract it signed.
"Despite what some of you regulars feel, this board will walk away with our heads held high knowing that we each upheld first and foremost the mission of District 15," she said.
Babcock, Chapman and James Ekeberg lost their re-election bids, while David Seifferet and David Gurion decided not to run. After Wednesday, the lone board holdover will be Zubair Khan.
He will be joined by Border, Szczupaj, Kain, Frank Annerino, Mike Smolka and Anthony Wang.