'I still don't feel safe': Former St. Charles school board member details why she resigned

A former St. Charles school board member who resigned this week says she has been harassed for about a year by a group of people upset about her views on in-person learning, mask requirements and other issues.

Carolyn Waibel stepped down from the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board following Tuesday's meeting. She cited harassment by community members as the reason.

"I think I became targeted from the get-go," Waibel said Friday. "But it really began when we started meeting in person again. It just went from one issue to the next."

Waibel said the harassment began in the fall of 2020 during an ongoing debate about in-person learning. Waibel said the reasons for the harassment evolved to include issues on diversity training, mask-wearing, quarantine requirements for students and COVID-19 vaccination mandates for teachers.

Waibel said the harassment has continued even after her resignation. She said social media attacks have continued, and through security camera footage she's noticed unfamiliar cars stopping in front of her house.

"I still don't feel safe," she said. "They're unrelenting. It has nothing to do with me being a board member anymore. I don't necessarily feel safer off the board now."

The situation came to a head during a board meeting on Tuesday night. She spoke to the school board about the kinds of harassment she's alleging.

In addition to email and social media attacks, Waibel said people have followed her and video recorded her at a grocery store. She said they've also left dead animals on her driveway, broken into her home and vandalized her car.

Waibel said she asked the school district to take additional steps to protect board members, similar to what she says other school districts provide. While a plainclothes police officer attends District 303 meetings, Waibel said the district could do more.

According to Waibel, other districts don't post personal contact information for board members on the district websites and station numerous police officers at meetings. In addition, she said other school districts have disruptive community members removed from meetings and ban them when they make threats.

Waibel submitted her letter of resignation after Tuesday's meeting. The letter did not state why she resigned.

School board President Jillian Barker confirmed that community members have been upset about many issues, including masking and vaccines. But she couldn't say if those issues were connected to the harassment allegations.

"Are they connected? It's hard to say," Barker said. "There are a number of issues that are driving this."

St. Charles police confirmed Friday that Waibel has filed five police reports: one in March about the theft of a political sign, one in August about trespassing, two for suspicious incidents in August and September, and an informational report on an unspecified concern in August.

None resulted in any arrests, citations or criminal charges.

The police declined to provide details, saying state law prohibited them from doing so without Waibel's permission.

Waibel was first elected to the District 303 school board in 2017 and won reelection this spring.

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