District 303 school board member resigns over 'unrelenting harassment'

Citing "unrelenting harassment" by community members, St. Charles Unit District 303 school board member Carolyn Waibel on Tuesday resigned from the board.

"It is a volatile time in our district, community, state and country," Waibel said in a statement. "It is a delicate balance between free speech and safety and security. It has escalated to being in an unsafe environment at board meetings, in my car and in my home."

During Tuesday's school board meeting, she described some of the ways she has been harassed to her fellow school board members.

"Someone has harassed me in my face walking into meetings when I was on a walker, I've had dead animals thrown into my driveway, my house has been vandalized, I've been followed and videotaped in a grocery store shopping with my son, my home was broken into, my car was vandalized and these people continue to libel me," Waibel said during the public comment portion of the meeting.

During the meeting, Waibel criticized the other board members and the district for not doing enough to protect the safety of school board members. She was first elected to the school board in 2017 and was reelected this spring.

"This board and this district has not protected its own," she said. "I call for immediate action. There are other boards in this state that have the courage to take care of their own people. This board is not one of them. I'm ashamed to be on it."

The district did not respond to her comments.

"The School Board wishes to thank Ms. Waibel for her service to our students, staff, and community," the board states in a letter to District 303 parents.

This is the second St. Charles school board member who has resigned this year. Board member Michael Bryant resigned from the board in January. His resignation letter stated he was resigning for personal reasons and he did not want to comment further.

At the time of his resignation, Waibel also voiced concerns about the harassment that school board members are facing these days.

"We took an oath to respect taxpayer interests and respect the free expression of opinion of board members," Waibel had said. "We didn't take an oath to be harassed in our homes, to be emailed 12 times in two hours, to be called names and hung up on. That's not what this job is about. We're here to help."

Board members plan to appoint someone to fill the vacancy before the regular school board meeting in December. That person will fill the seat until the next consolidated election, which is April 4, 2023.

Applications are now being accepted by the school board. Community members are being asked to submit a resume and a letter explaining their interest in serving on the District 303 school board by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 25.

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