Educator backs plan for minority youths to live in Barrington Hills mansion
Barrington High School Associate Principal Heath McFaul expressed his support Thursday night for a controversial plan to move disadvantaged minority youths into a Barrington Hills mansion in an effort to provide them better education and other opportunities.
Terrance Wallace wants his InZone Project in the 12,000-square-foot home on roughly 28 acres so the inner-city Chicago children of color, who are under his legal guardianship, can live in a nurturing residential environment with support. The plan is to relocate InZone from Wauconda to Barrington Hills, with the boys there before school starts in August.
Wallace said up to 25 boys would live at the mansion and attend Barrington Area Unit District 220 schools. McFaul, who's met with Wallace over the past two years, said he looks forward to Barrington High's students, teachers and the InZone boys learning from each other in the 2020-21 academic year.
"There exists a unique and powerful opportunity for us to engage all of our young adults and our teachers in some real conversations, even some uncomfortable conversations, the conversations that will take place in classroom settings or other organized forums that are specifically designed to foster this individual growth that will help us become more kind and inclusive and empathetic not only just in our high school learning environment, but in the greater good of our community," McFaul said during Thursday night's virtual town-hall meeting.
Wallace, who hosted the online forum that drew about 200 visitors, said he first contacted Barrington Hills in April 2018 to make village officials aware of his plan and did not receive a response for several months. He said officials have continued to ignore his recent emails, and he has questioned whether discrimination is behind Barrington Hills' inaction.
In a statement before the forum, Barrington Hills officials reiterated that few details were provided when the InZone proposal arrived in 2018. Wallace was directed to consult the village's codes to ensure compliance with use of the residentially zoned land.
"Since that time, and including up to the present, the village has not received any further details on the proposal," the statement reads. "The village is waiting for additional information from Mr. Wallace in order to properly review the proposal to determine what ordinances, laws and village regulations are applicable."
Village Attorney Patrick Bond told the Daily Herald that the issue solely is about how Barrington Hills' zoning code applies to the plan.
Wallace said his plan is not for a group home that would need to go through an approval process for zoning variance. He said the difference is that he -- not InZone -- would have legal guardianship of the 25 children.
During a question-and-answer portion of Thursday's town hall over Zoom, Wallace eventually bristled at text queries on who would own the property and pay taxes on the six-bedroom, six-bathroom mansion that includes an indoor basketball court, a library and an outdoor pool. He said he'll be the owner and that no one needs to know how the deal was worked out.
"Someone is asking questions about property taxes," Wallace said. "Again, I don't feel I need to disclose to you, me paying. As a homeowner, do you pay your property taxes? I don't think you would be asking me this question, No. 1, if I was not Black and if I didn't have all my boys.
"So, I think that's another case of racism for you to continue to ask me questions if I'm going to pay my bills, as if you have any indications that I've never paid my bills. Look at my track record and see the history of my organization and me as a person to know I pay my bills."
Barrington Hills this week hired as special counsel Emanuel "Chris" Welch and ShawnTe Raines from the Ancel Glink law firm to work directly with InZone and village officials to determine the course of action for the proposal. Welch also is a Democratic state representative.
In 2018, Wallace was the legal guardian for five teens who lived with him in an Inverness mansion and attended Fremd High School in Palatine. Wallace had a staff to help care for the boys, who returned to their Chicago homes most weekends.
Wallace founded InZone while living in New Zealand nine years ago and returned to his native Chicago in 2016. InZone is privately financed through fundraisers, a few key donors and the money Wallace makes through his consulting work and share of a biometric security technology business he co-founded.