D150 Board Names Appointee

The Peoria District 150 school board has appointed Jon Bateman to fill its District 3 vacancy.

The board chose Bateman over 7 other applicants for the seat which became vacant July 1 when newly elected Sue Wolstenholm resigned immediately after being sworn in.

Former board member Laura Petelle, who lost to Wolstenholm in the March election, had also applied for the seat but withdrew her name from consideration Wednesday.

Bateman, who has worked at Caterpillar the past 24 years, is an active Richwoods High School parent who is involved with the district's "Parents as Leaders" program initiated last school year. Bateman also began serving on the Peoria Council for Continuous Improvement at the end of last school year.

The board will formally vote to appoint Bateman to the board during its August 11 meeting, then he will immediately be sworn in.

Bateman 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 saga of the District 3 vacancy began in November when Petelle, who was seeking re-election, and Wolstenholm were the only two people to file nominating petitions for the school board election, which took place the same time as the March 18th primary.

The following month District 150 announced it self-reported to the State Board of Education potential ISAT testing irregularities among Special Education students at Charter Oak Primary School. Principal John Wetterauer was placed on paid administrative leave while an investigation was conducted. At the time, the district said the action against Wetterauer was not a disciplinary action, but was simply to ensure an unbiased internal investigation.

As a result of the investigation the board January 27 reassigned Wetterauer as a "Principal on Special Assignment" and issued written warnings to two Charter Oak teachers and directed the administration to assign them to different schools.

Wetterauer was to report to the Woodruff Career and Technical Center, but instead requested, and was granted, a leave of absence for the remainder of the school year. Wetterauer later resigned from the school district.

That led to the creation of Change150. Organizers of the group of parents and community leaders said they wanted to hold Superintendent Grenita Lathan and the school board accountable for what they called "questionable decisions."

The group was vocal in its protest at school board meetings during and after the Charter Oak investigation, at one point appealing to the Peoria City Council for support.

Wolstenholm announced in February she was dropping out of the school board race, citing health reasons. However, she withdrew too late to get her name off the ballot.

Change150 then took on the role of Political Action Committee, rallying support for Wolstenholm's name in order to oust Petelle so a message could be sent to remaining board members and the administration that a change in leadership style, if not personnel, was needed.

Wolstenholm's name gathered nearly 70 percent of the vote in the March election defeating Petelle's re-election bid. Wolstenholm had said she would not sit on the board, if elected, and followed through with that pledge July 1 when she resigned from the board within 30 seconds after being sworn in to begin serving her five-year term.

Change150, after vetting people interested in being endorsed by the group, settled on former Peoria City Council candidate Dan Adler as its recommendation for the appointment.

Following Wolstenholm's resignation, the board then accepted applications for people wishing to fill District 3 vacancy through July 11.

Four of the applicants, including Petelle, were interviewed separately by the board Tuesday. The remaining four applicants, including Adler, were interviewed Wednesday.

The other applicants for the seat were: former Morton Dist. 709 school board member Nancy Overcash, former Peoria County Board member Jeff Lickiss, Phil Romanus, Melvin McCaw and CSE Software, Inc. Vice-President Lara Aaron.


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