Warren Township High School District 121 board member: No gay superintendent
Warren Township High School board member Liz Biondi says she hopes the district does not hire someone who is gay to replace retiring Superintendent Mary Perry Bates.
Biondi made her comments at a public meeting last week while board members listed their criteria for the next boss of Gurnee-based Warren District 121. Joining board members at the meeting were representatives of School Exec Connect of Highland Park, which is leading the search to replace Bates before the 2015-16 academic year.
Biondi said some district residents would not want a gay superintendent. A gay schools chief may wind up fighting "more personal fires than superintendent fires," she said.
"I am being very honest," Biondi added. "I have no problem with gays and lesbians. I personally know many. I know some who are (in the) closet and I respect that."
Biondi could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Her comments were not made in regards to a specific superintendent candidate.
Under the 2006 Illinois Human Rights Act, it's unlawful to discriminate against someone in employment matters on the basis of sexual orientation.
Warren board President John Anderson stressed Wednesday the district values diversity. He said Biondi's comments will prompt the board to explore removing her from office through a petition to the Lake County Regional Office of Education.
"I was astounded that she would say that," Anderson said. "It was offensive in every sense of the word."
Anderson told Biondi during the Dec. 2 meeting that superintendent candidates can't be asked about their sexual orientation.
But short of being convicted of a crime, Lake County Regional School Superintendent Roycealee Wood says her hands are tied when it comes to removing elected school board members.
"We've had a number of instances where people have committed crimes and been indicted, but unless they're convicted they cannot be removed," Wood said.
Wood plans to meet with the school superintendent and the district's lawyers Thursday to discuss what other legal options, if any, the district has.
"She's creating a concern for the school district and bad publicity, and there's no way that I can remove her. And she knows that," Wood said.
Wood said Biondi did not respond to a request to meet and discuss her comments.
"I can't even get her in to talk to her about her bad behavior," she said. "It's not that I'm not concerned. I'm very concerned about any person in that position that would make comments that are inflammatory and discriminatory."
Biondi, elected to a 4-year term with 31 write-in votes in April 2013, has periodically clashed with her board colleagues since taking office.
In October, board members voted 4-2 that Biondi violated her oath of office by publicly divulging information from a closed-door meeting. Biondi reportedly discussed a personnel matter while attending a meeting of the Warren-Newport Public Library District board.
At a meeting last February, Biondi claimed "someone in the district" wiretapped her telephone.