County clerk says Patel lives in District 25, but district is still investigating

The Cook County clerk's office ruled Thursday that Anisha Patel, the top vote-getter in the Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 school board race, lives within the district, despite her own ballot containing the race for neighboring Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59.

There were still unanswered questions, however, as to why Patel has been paying taxes to the neighboring district.

And District 25 Superintendent Lori Bein said district attorneys are still doing their due diligence before determining whether Patel can take a spot on the school board.

The clerk's office dug up a record from Aug. 11, 1937, that officials say they relied on in making the determination that Patel's house on the 500 block of East Lincoln Street is in District 25.

"Our office has been in contact with Anisha, so she's aware, and it's considered to be resolved in the sense there are no questions on our end whether she lives in the appropriate district," said Nick Shields, a spokesman for the clerk's office, which oversees elections in suburban Cook County.

The clerk will certify the election results April 25, and the winners are expected to be sworn in at the April 27 school board meeting.

At the board's meeting Thursday night attended by a number of her supporters, Patel confirmed the news she received from the clerk's office earlier in the day.

"I am relieved to put this matter behind me and behind us as a community," she said.

After the meeting, Bein said she hoped to receive a legal opinion from district attorneys soon. If it's determined Patel can't serve on the board, it would be up to the other board members to appoint someone.

In the race for four available 4-year seats on the board, Patel tallied 3,199 votes, followed by school board secretary Erin Johannesen with 2,720, board President David Page with 2,456 and incumbent Richard Olejniczak with 2,342, according to unofficial returns from Tuesday's election. Trailing those four were 12-year incumbent Denise Glasgow, and newcomers Chris Salituro and Joe Selbka.

The nearly 80-year-old document includes a letter from then-Wheeling Township Treasurer George Volz to the county clerk stating that portions of four plats of land were annexed into District 25. The annexation was prompted by a petition of residents and approved during a joint meeting of the school trustees of the Towns of Wheeling and Elk Grove.

Patel, founder of an educational consulting firm and a former District 25 curriculum coordinator and assistant principal, said her three children have attended District 25 schools since 2008, and her neighbors' children have attended District 25 schools for nearly 20 years.

She contacted county and school district officials earlier this week after viewing her sample ballot on the county website that didn't show the District 25 race but the District 59 race instead.

Adam Harris, a District 25 spokesman, said Lincoln Street has been the generally accepted boundary line for District 25, though it was recently brought to the district's attention that three houses on Lincoln - including Patel's - are carved out of the district's boundaries.

"Based on this unusual circumstance, the district is in the process of reviewing all of its boundaries with Cook County to determine if there are any other similar cutouts," Harris said.

District 59 Superintendent Art Fessler said his office also recently became aware of the situation and is looking into the matter.

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