CRETE | A six-month search for a new athletic director at Crete-Monee High School officially ended Tuesday night when the School Board approved the hiring of Linda Peete.
Peete most recently worked as assistant athletic director at Chicago State University. She's also worked as a teacher and athletic director at Curie Metropolitan High School, according to her LinkedIn profile, and served as volleyball coach at Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park.
"She had the greatest variety of experience (of all the candidates interviewed)," Superintendent John Rodgers said. "In fact, she was the only candidate that had college, university experience in athletics."
The hire was not without controversy, though. Board member Mike Turay accused board leadership of bias in the selection.
"There is a hidden agenda here, and I think that hidden agenda is that they wanted a female and they wanted a person of color," Turay said.
The board voted 4-1, with Turay being the only vote against, to approve Peete's hiring. Board members Tom Hysell and Edward Anderson were not present.
Vice President Maurice Brown said he was deeply offended by Turay's accusation. Secretary Kimberly Sanders said there was a process and that the candidate chosen would have to be "well-qualified."
"This board does not make decisions based off of race," President Nakia Hall said. "We haven't done it before, and we're not going to start now."
The board chose not to renew the contract of former Athletic Director Gene Cahan in March. Cahan remains a math teacher and baseball coach for the Warriors.
Greg Schneider, Crete-Monee supervisor of instruction and special education, was on the board's June 17 agenda to be reassigned as athletic director, but that decision was tabled and the job was reopened.
Girls track coach Willie Cole, who was part of the search committee put together by the district, said Schneider was the group's only unanimous choice out of five possible candidates. The board asked for the committee's top three choices, Cole said, but the committee could not come to a unanimous decision on anyone except Schneider.
Cole did say, though, that hiring an African-American woman as athletic director might inspire more African-American female students to come out for sports.
Rodgers said he makes the final recommendation and the board makes the final decision.
"Sometimes, not all the time, but there are occasions where there is a difference in the recommendation (of the search committee and superintendent)," Rodgers said. "I truly believe that the process was above-board, had integrity to it."