Dist. 26 board debates retirement bonus for late employee's family
River Trails Elementary District 26 board members are expected to hold a second vote next week on whether to amend a union contract to provide a roughly $50,000 bonus to the family of an employee who missed out due to her death, officials said.
At the time of her death last month, Debbie Platz of Mount Prospect was six days from completing a full 29 years as a district employee. That would have qualified her for a retirement bonus of one year's salary under a River Trails Education Association union contract expiring June 30, school board President Frank Fiarito said Wednesday.
The 62-year-old Platz died May 28 from injuries suffered after a motorcycle she was riding on crashed in North Barrington. Known for her kindness and warm smile, she was less than a week from retiring from her post as a secretary at Indian Grove Elementary School in Mount Prospect.
On June 5, the Mount Prospect-based District 26 school board voted 3-3, with one member absent, on a motion to amend the collective bargaining agreement with the union to allow Platz's family to receive the retirement bonus. The four-year contract expires June 30.
Fiarito said at least $50,000 would be paid to Platz's family if the agreement were amended. The matter is expected to be on the board's agenda for Tuesday, June 19, and that all members should be present for a second vote.
"Having all seven board members, it's important to make a decision one way or another," Fiarito said. "Yes or no, to be able to go back to the community and say we've come to a decision and explain and just vote on it, so that way we can put it to rest. Having it be a 3-3 tie, it's nothing. It's like we really didn't do anything because it's not yes and it's not no."
Labeled a memorandum of agreement, the document states the proposed payout to Platz's family would not set a precedent.
Platz's family already is eligible for benefits from life insurance and accidental death policies paid for by the school district, said Fiarito, who voted in favor of allowing the bonus payment over two fiscal years. He said a "considerable amount of money" will be received by the family through the policies.
"I think there's this idea out there that her family is getting nothing, but they will be getting something no matter how the vote goes (next week)," he added.
Lake County sheriff's police said Platz was a passenger on the 2008 Harley-Davidson when its driver lost control of the bike when approaching a curve on Miller Road shortly before noon May 28. The motorcycle hit a curb, tossing Platz and the driver, a 62-year-old man from Mount Prospect, from the bike, authorities said.
District 26 board members Sue Stolzer, Linda Linder and Fiarito voted in favor of amending the contract to allow the bonus payment to Platz's family, with Samuel Bae, Bill Grimpe and Donna Johnson opposed. Julia Nemcek was absent.