Gay comments expected to draw crowd to Warren
Superintendent expects several to attend District 121 meeting
Warren Township High School District 121 in Gurnee is preparing to handle what's expected to be a large turnout for a board meeting in the wake of an elected official's comment about not wanting a gay superintendent.
Superintendent Mary Perry Bates said an uproar against the comments from teachers, students, equal-right activists and others leads her to believe "hundreds" are likely to attend the meeting that begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Almond Road junior-senior campus, 34090 Almond Road in Gurnee.
Bates said the meeting will be in the cafeteria, which is being outfitted with a proper sound system and microphones for public comment time.
"The tech people are getting the cafeteria set up," Bates said Friday.
Board member Liz Biondi has apologized for saying at a Dec. 2 meeting she'd be concerned if someone who is gay is hired to replace the retiring Bates. A gay schools boss may wind up fighting "more personal fires than superintendent fires," she said.
She spoke while board members listed their criteria for the next superintendent. Also at that 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 she raised the issue in general terms on behalf of a District 121 resident she didn't identify and that her comments were taken out of context. She apologized Thursday "to everyone I offended by my question" at last week's session and said she doesn't intend to quit.
Meanwhile, District 121 English teacher Jason Baker has started a Change.org petition calling for Biondi's resignation.
Bates also said she wants Biondi to leave.
Illinois State Board of Elections officials say there is no mechanism to remove a school board member for making controversial comments. Warren officials said they have been exploring options regarding Biondi.