Two Geneva District 304 school board members quit

  • In this file photo, Geneva District 304 school board President Taylor Egan and Superintendent Kent Mutchler listen to public comments during a meeting at Geneva Middle School South on Aug. 2, 2021.

    In this file photo, Geneva District 304 school board President Taylor Egan and Superintendent Kent Mutchler listen to public comments during a meeting at Geneva Middle School South on Aug. 2, 2021. Sandy Bressner/Shaw Media

  • Alicia Saxton

    Alicia Saxton

 
 
Updated 2/10/2022 8:24 AM

Geneva District 304 school board President Taylor Egan and board member Alicia Saxton both resigned this week.

Saxton on Monday sent a resignation letter to all school board members and forwarded it to the Kane County Chronicle Wednesday night.

 

When contacted for comment on Saxton's resignation, Egan stated in a text message that she, too, had resigned.

Egan did not provide a resignation letter nor give a reason.

Saxton's letter blamed what she said was poor decision-making on District 304's leadership for classes being canceled Monday as an emergency day so the district could respond to a downstate judge's ruling on the mask mandate in schools.

Last week, Sangamon County Judge Raylene Grischow declared Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker's emergency rules for COVID-19 mitigations in schools "null and void," stopping the state's mask mandate in school districts that were defendants in a lawsuit.

"This morning we received 85+ emails from outraged parents. I am not sitting back any longer and letting my voice be stifled because of a fear of speaking out," Saxton's letter stated.

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"In my opinion, this was an extremely poor decision and illustrates the district's lack of planning. We have had two weeks as a district to formulate a plan, and instead of planning, COVID task force meetings were cancelled, and nothing was done," Saxton's letter stated.

"As a board member and a member of this community, I am embarrassed at the decision and lack of planning from Geneva 304," she wrote.

Saxton blamed Superintendent Kent Mutchler and the administration, accusing them of poor leadership.

"It was very hard to sit back and constantly be blamed for every decision as a school board when we had very little to do with these decisions," Saxton said.

"Much of this was the superintendent's power to approve," Saxton said. "The board is there to oversee everything. All the planning and execution lies within the superintendent's office and for us to be blamed for every single missed and poor decision while he sat back and did not comment -- it was very difficult."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mutchler said administrators worked through the weekend on how to respond to the mask ruling and that it was a consensus to call off school on Monday as an emergency day.

"We had attorneys giving conflicting information," Mutchler said.

"We were not ready to have recommended masking for all students and staff or those named in the lawsuit not to wear masks. Taking Monday off gave a better solution for our students and staff,"

Mutchler said. "We considered having school and having e-learning, and we considered an emergency day -- and that is what we chose as a group to make Tuesday go better."

Mutchler said some other school districts also took Monday off to decide what to do.

"Our main focus is to educate kids, and we have been put into a very difficult no-win situation," Mutchler said. "We are trying to educate kids as safely as we can and follow state rules and state mandates and what the court tells us and the science. That is the main thing, and that puts pressure on board members. It puts pressure on everyone."

Mutchler said Geneva education officials try to make the best decisions they can -- collaboratively -- with the school board.

"It doesn't do good for the board or administration to blame the other. You need to work together," Mutchler said. "That is the most productive thing."

As to what the school board will do now with two resigned, Mutchler said officials will have to look for people to apply to serve.

Board Vice President Michael McCormick said he will be designated as the board president and a new vice president will have to be chosen.

"And then we're going to start the process, we'll put that out to the public I imagine on Monday, we'll be able to get those two positions filled pretty quickly," he said.

McCormick said he felt sad about the resignations.

"We didn't always see eye to eye -- but I liked them and respected their positions, and they were always nice to me," McCormick said. "This is a scary time, and I understand the public's anger and frustration -- when they stand up and yell at us. ... I hope people keep reasonable. I don't want to lose any more board members. I wish them the best, and they did good things for kids."

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