Petelle Withdraws, Board Narrows Choice

Former District 150 school board member Laura Petelle withdraws from consideration for a vacant school board seat, while board members reach a consenus on their appointment.

Petelle, who lost to Sue Wolstenholm in the March election, was one of eight applicants to fill the vacancy created July 1 when Wolstenholm resigned from the board immediately after being sworn in.

Petelle, in an e-mail to board president Debbie Wolfmeyer, said she was withdrawing her name from consideration after talking it over with her family. Petelle said, "While I have have enjoyed my time on the Board very much, I have decided that the harassment of my very young children is too much to ask my family to continue to endure."

Petelle took the brunt of Change150's opposition to the district's reporting of ISAT testing irregularities at Charter Oak School and the reassignment of principal John Wetterauer, who has since resigned from the district. Change150 launched a grass roots campaign urging support of Wolstenholm in the election, even though Wolstenholm had dropped out of the race, but too late to get her name off the ballot. Petelle said during a school board meeting her children were harassed and threatened before the election. Change150 denied involvement in the threats and said they were inappropriate.

Petelle says she will continue her relationship with District 150 "as a parent of children enrolled in District 150 schools and taking advantage of the many opportunities Peoria District 150 offers."

"Our sons have received excellent education and services from the District and its high-caliber, professional staff," Petelle writes, "and nothing could persuade us to give up those opportunities for our boys."

The other applicants to the board seat were: Change150-endorsed Dan Adler, former Morton Dist. 709 board member Nancy Overcash, former Peoria County Board member Jeff Lickiss, retiree Melvin McCaw, Phil Romanus, Jon Bateman and CSE Software, Inc. Vice-President Lara Aaron.

The board conducted separate interviews with each applicant. Overcash, McCaw, Lickiss and Petelle were interviewed Tuesday while Romanus, Bateman, Adler and Aaron were questioned Wednesday.

The board concluded its interviews around 8:50 p.m. Wednesday and immedately began deliberations to fill the vacancy. The board emerged from its executive sesson around 10:35 p.m. Wednesday and announced a consensus had been reached. But, the name will not be released to the public until the person selected and the remaining applicants who were not selected are contacted by phone Thursday.

Whoever is appointed will serve until the next school board election next spring. That winner will serve the remainder of the seat's five-year term through June 30, 2019.

The board will formally vote to approve its appointment during its August 11 meeting, then the new board member will immediately be sworn in.


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