Warren Twp. board's Biondi: Don't harass me to resign after gay remark
Warren Township High School board member Liz Biondi says she's not quitting and doesn't want to be harassed during public comment time at meetings.
Biondi reacted during Gurnee-based Warren District 121's Feb. 10 meeting after listening to another round of speakers during public comment time reiterate she should resign for saying she'd be concerned if someone who is gay is hired to replace retiring Superintendent Mary Perry Bates. Biondi has since apologized for the remark she made at a December special board meeting.
Among those who stepped to the podium this week demanding Biondi's resignation were District 121 teachers union President Jason Jecmen, Warren-Newport Public Library District board member Andrea Farr Capizzi, and Jason Baker, an English teacher at Warren's O'Plaine Road freshman-sophomore campus. Six speakers, including Baker and Jecmen, also focused on Biondi at the Warren board's Jan. 20 session.
Baker said Biondi has become an unproductive dissenting board voice and claimed students think of her as a "homophobic" and "crazy" woman.
"Miss Biondi, it's time for you to do the math and realize that resigning is only going to make your life and our lives better," Baker said. "If you truly care about this community, this is your only choice."
Biondi made a statement from the board meeting table after the public comment period.
"I just want to make everyone aware that I am not going to resign," she said, "and if you keep this up, I will consider it harassment. And you know there are penalties for harassment. So, that's all I'm going to say."
During a Dec. 2 meeting while board members listed criteria for the next school chief, Biondi said she would be concerned about hiring a gay superintendent. She said a gay superintendent could wind up fighting "more personal fires than superintendent fires."
Roughly 400 people filled Warren's Almond Road junior-senior campus cafeteria for a meeting Dec. 16, with a dozen or so of them criticizing Biondi and demanding her resignation. She did not attend the session. She was censured by the board that night and was dropped from the superintendent search committee.
Biondi, who first told the Daily Herald in December she didn't plan to quit the school board, isn't the first District 121 official to fire back at critics during a meeting.
In 2009, former Superintendent Phil Sobocinski and board President John Anderson said they would look into taking legal action against a man who they contended made unflattering comments about them at a public meeting.
Neither Sobocinski nor Anderson, who still heads the District 121 board, pursued a lawsuit against retired Warren teacher Rick Bryan over his three-minute comments that included the words "cheating," "deception" and "illegal" related to a previous controversy over the school requiring juniors to meet stronger academic standards before taking an annual achievement exam.