Parents group wants to recall all but one member of St. Charles school board

  • St. Charles community members protested a school board meeting in September to demand a return to in-person learning. Now a group called D303 Move Forward has started a campaign to recall several members of the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board.

    St. Charles community members protested a school board meeting in September to demand a return to in-person learning. Now a group called D303 Move Forward has started a campaign to recall several members of the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board. Courtesy of Shaw Media

  • St. Charles Unit District 303 School Board President Nick Manheim

    St. Charles Unit District 303 School Board President Nick Manheim

 
 
Updated 2/11/2021 7:37 PM

Angry about a string of decisions made on behalf of students in St. Charles, notably regarding plans for in-person learning, a group called D303 Move Forward has begun a campaign to recall all but one member of the St. Charles Unit District 303 school board.

Because there is no statute enabling a recall of locally elected officials, the organization is asking the board members to resign and is following state regulations for recalling the governor. Once the group finishes collecting signatures, the petition will be filed with the Kane County recorder's office and submitted to the election board for a hearing.

 

Named in the petition are school board President Nick Manheim, Vice President Carolyn Waibel, Jillian Barker, Becky McCabe and Ed McNally. Heidi Fairgrieve was the lone school board member not named.

"Many D303 constituents need St. Charles District 303 school board members to make data-driven decisions for all students and taxpayers and to hold (Superintendent Jason Pearson) accountable for academic results and student well-being," the organization said in a post on its Facebook page.

In a radio interview last week on WIND-AM, D303 Move Forward parent Michelle Casile said the group grew out of the reopening movement earlier in the school year that pushed for more in-person learning. Elementary school students are currently learning in person while middle school and high school students are in a hybrid model of remote and in-person learning.

In a statement, Manheim defended the actions taken by the school board.

"During the COVID-19 crisis, school board members have been charged with protecting the health and safety of students and staff members while also providing for the educational and learning needs of all students," he said. "I am proud of the enormous efforts from all of our board members and staff as they have worked to accomplish this balance."

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Fairgrieve, McNally and Waibel are up for reelection in the April 6 consolidated election. Five candidates are running for four open seats.

Casile said the group did not target Fairgrieve for recall because "she has demonstrated at the board table that she wants to hold the superintendent accountable. She wants to address academic decline and focus on student well-being."

Organization officials said Fairgrieve isn't part of the recall campaign because she wasn't at the Aug. 10 school board meeting when other board members unanimously approved a resolution giving Pearson the authority to make decisions on reopening schools.

At Monday's board meeting, Fairgrieve responded to suggestions she's associated with D303 Move Forward.

"To be very clear, I had no knowledge of these actions being taken on any level," she said of the recall campaign.

Fairgrieve said she knows some members of D303 Move Forward through her children, but she dismissed any link with the group.

"I am disappointed that there would be any attempt to conjure a connection between myself and the independent actions of a group in our community," she said. "I consistently strive to maintain professionalism in my interactions and treatment of people."

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