D.158 adopts conduct policy for its School Board members

2013-03-21T10:43:00Z 2013-03-22T00:04:17Z D.158 adopts conduct policy for its School Board membersPaul Czapkowicz Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
March 21, 2013 10:43 am  • 

LANSING | In response to a grievance filed by the Lansing Education Association, the Lansing Elementary School District 158 School Board on Wednesday unanimously approved a board conduct resolution.

The grievance involved board member Anthony Arens and his reaction last month to not being asked to take part in the filming of a video that outlined a vision for the district and has been shown at recent functions, including a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Reavis Elementary School last week and the board meeting on Wednesday.

Memorial Junior High School teacher Bob Winter addressed the board as he spoke on behalf of the Lansing Education Association.

"On Feb. 16, it was brought to my attention that Mr. Arens verbally attacked, harassed, bullied and also grabbed property that belonged to a colleague who was working for the district," Winter said.

Arens believes D.158 Superintendent Cecilia Heiberger intentionally excluded him from the video because of differences between the two. Arens has been a frequent critic of the district's spending and taxation decisions.

Arens said he approached the sixth-grade teacher who put together the video during the recent Lansing Roundball Classic held at Memorial Junior High School and asked when he would be interviewed. He became agitated when he found out he was not going to be included.

"I will admit that I was loud," Arens said. "I am sorry if I did scare her because I am a big guy and I do stutter. I raise my voice to raise my octave. I did nothing to hurt her."

Heiberger did not respond to Arens comments on Wednesday regarding his omission from the video.

Winter said the Lansing Education Association believes the rights of the teacher, whose name he did not use in open session, have been violated.

"In our district handbook, we have standards for our students concerning bullying," Winter said. "We expect the same behavior from our School Board members. Nobody wants to work in a threatening or hostile environment."

Arens admitted he became mad when he learned he would not be part of the video.

"I overreacted because I was shortchanged," he said. "And I don't understand, as a board member, why I'm not in the loop."

Board Secretary Suzanne Long read the board's new conduct resolution that states the board does not condone any action by a board member that violates the code of conduct established by the Illinois School Code.

"The Lansing Board of Education publicly states through this resolution that its members have no individual authority to warn, reprimand, suspend, discipline, harass, belittle or mistreat any employee of the district or student in the district," Long said.

Arens said he will "go through the proper channels" in the future.

"I apologize from the bottom of my heart and I promise the school employees I will never raise my voice," he said.

Board member Jerry Kern said he and Long also were not included in the video. He called out Arens for his actions.

"You got your nose out of joint because you weren't on that video," Kern said. "Well, too bad. I've been on this board 10 times longer than you. Am I upset about it? Not at all. We got the message across."

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