Winning candidate lives in Dist. 25, school officials agree

Arlington Heights Elementary District 25 officials on Friday accepted a determination from their attorneys and the Cook County clerk's office that school board candidate Anisha Patel lives in the district and is eligible to serve on the board.

"I'm ecstatic," Patel said. "I'm looking to put this campaign behind me and to serve in the position I've been elected for our students, schools and community."

Patel was the top vote-getter in Tuesday's seven-way race for four available spots on the board, but questions over her residency in the district surfaced when she discovered this week her sample ballot didn't list the District 25 election. Instead, it contained the school board race in neighboring Elk Grove Township Elementary District 59.

Officials from the Cook County clerk's office on Thursday ruled Patel's house on the 500 block of East Lincoln Street is in District 25, after they dug up a nearly 80-year-old record showing portions of land that had been annexed into District 25.

On Friday, the school district's attorneys completed their review of that document. They also searched for other documents that would dispute her residency within District 25 but couldn't find any, said Adam Harris, a district spokesman.

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 - had been carved out of the district's boundaries. That has prompted the district to review all of its boundary properties with Cook County to determine if there are similar cutouts.

What's still undetermined is why Patel has been paying taxes to District 59, which has a lower tax rate than District 25.

Patel has said she uses a professional tax preparer and in the past hadn't looked closely at the taxing bodies listed on her property tax bill. She's lived on Lincoln Street in Arlington Heights since 2008, and her three children have attended District 25 schools since then.

Harris said District 25 would continue to research questions about Patel's tax bill.

Patel said she hasn't given the issue much thought.

"This whole week, ever since I discovered this and alerted officials, has been a whirlwind," she said. "I haven't even looked at anything else. We're ecstatic this is over, and the district or county or anyone else who needs to be working on this as to the taxes will figure it out."

Patel, founder of an educational consulting firm and a former District 25 curriculum coordinator and assistant principal, will be sworn in April 27 with the other top vote-getters - incumbents Erin Johannesen, David Page and Rich Olejniczak.

Page, the school board president, said in a statement Friday the board wanted to do its "due diligence" by getting guidance from both the county clerk and school district attorney.

• Daily Herald Senior Writer Kerry Lester contributed to this report.

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