Keeping up with Park Ridge schools. Parents leery of cops in charge of school discipline.

BOE 2017-19 5-2-17
The Park Ridge guys in charge: From Left: (seated) Secretary Tom Sotos; President Anthony Borrelli; Vice President Rick Biagi; member Eastman Tiu; (standing) members Fred Sanchez, Larry Ryles and Mark Eggemann

Back in my old school district, Park Ridge District 64, parents are concerned about having cops stationed at the two middle schools.

I would be worried too if one of my children has special needs or one with a disability.

Park Ridge is a predominantly white Chicago suburb.

The local district is made up of five K-5 elementary buildings and two middle schools.

Earlier this year the local board brought up the idea of placing local cops at the two middle schools.

There is no solution if there is no problem.

Some parents had bigger concerns.

Parent Ginger Pennington, speaking at Monday’s school board meeting, said there was no data to indicate that officers were needed to address a crime or violence problem in the district’s schools, since only 3 percent of in-school suspensions were related to a violent incident or drugs.

“My concern is that these officers won’t have the proper training,” Pennington said.

Pennington said she was also concerned about whether the officers would be allowed to interview students without a parent present.

“We need more transparency,” Pennington said.

Board President Anthony Borrelli told Pennington that it was “unfair” to have this discussion until the policy has been completed and ready for consideration.

“Your comments have to be placed in context,” Borrelli said. “We are far, far away from passing this.”

The board voted unanimously in August to approve what board members called a pilot program to assign officers to Lincoln and Emerson middle schools. The officers would work to improve relationships between the police departments and middle school students and gather information about issues facing each schools, District 64 Superintendent Laurie Heinz said in August.

The policy could be approved by the District 64 board as soon as Jan. 22, Heinz said.

Pennington told the board that although 14.5 percent of District 64’s student population is made up of disabled students, those students account for about 67 percent of in-school suspensions and 85 percent of out-of-school suspensions, citing 2013-2014 school year data provided by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

“We don’t want to see a special-needs student dragged out of school in handcuffs,” Pennington said, adding that officers should be trained in de-escalation and conflict resolution.

A local school board election in Park Ridge. Conflicts and convergences.


Disgraced Park Ridge school board member, Dr. Dathan Paterno.

Park Ridge, where I taught for three decades, is having a school board election.

They can. Although the Illinois House is debating the issue as we speak, we Chicagoans still can’t elect our school board.

Why can’t we? I suspect it has something to do with the color of most of our citizens. As a loyal troll of this blog constantly reminds me, I tend to think race is a constant issue in Chicago.

Anyway, back to Park Ridge’s school board election. There are four open seats to be filled by the voters in April.

Park Ridge school board elections have small turnouts.  That is why a white racist and misogynist like Dr. Dathan Paterno can get elected. Remember the good doctor? He was forced to resign from the Park Ridge board a few months ago after he tweeted that the millions of women who marched against Trump a day after the inauguration were 300 pound screeching vaginas.

The little town of Park Ridge, Illinois made it to the national press when the story broke.

The story about Paterno’s screeching vagina tweets broke in January. But Paterno has been tweeting stuff like that since way before he was elected to the board by a couple of thousand voters four years ago. I posted about his vile tweets way back when, trying to draw attention to the woman-hating racist on the school board.

One lesson here is that having the right to elect a school board is not enough. Then we have to elect good folks.

Nobody on the school board who sat next to him at meetings every two weeks seemed to care about the racist and male supremacist in their midst. For nearly four years. That is not my definition of good folks.

Like any community there are good and bad people in Park Ridge. Over the years I knew some really good members of the school board.

I also remember the school board member – Joe Baldi, I think his name was – who during one negotiating session, leaned across the table and told me, “Fred. What you need to know is that we see teachers as just another cost to be contained.”

I recall one year we were on strike in a cold November and community folks would bring donuts and hot coffee to the picket lines. On the other hand, the wife of a school board member physically threatened – literally chased after her while swearing at her – our former union president right out on the street in front of where we were bargaining.

It takes a village, but some in the village might be your looney aunt.

Now some locals are outraged because the husbands of three Park Ridge teachers are running for some of the open seats.

Because if you’re married to a teacher it’s a conflict of interest to be on a school board.

I don’t see the conflict. It seems like a good fit to me.

These watchdogs who object to a spouse of a teacher being on the board have no problem with the likes of Joe Baldi and Dr. Dathan Paterno.

See, I would have thought that being a racist and a misogynist was a conflict of interest for someone sitting on a school board.

Or someone who sees teachers only in terms of their cost.

But the voters will make that choice in April.

In Chicago we are forced to have a board with bankers, lawyers and those who run companies who do business with the board. No conflict of interest there.


Park Ridge board member Tom Sotos and a sexual harassment suit.


At the Park Ridge board meeting last night, board member Athos Tom Sotos interrupted a parent during the public comment section of the meeting.

Reports the Daily Herald:

Perhaps the most dramatic moment during the almost hourlong public comment came when board member Athan Sotos interrupted district parent Daisy Bowe because she, like several other speakers, used the word “vagina” in her remarks. Sotos said he denounced Paterno’s use of the word and he didn’t want to have to explain to his children why people at the board meeting also used the word.

Superintendent Laurie Heinz had to remind Sotos that the public comment section of board meetings was not intended as a dialogue or back and forth. It was a time for the community to address board members.

I still ask why the sexist and racist tweets of Dr. Dathan Paterno went unchallenged for four years by literally fellow board members until this week.

The Park Ridge board is all male except for one female.

One of the guys is Tom Sotos, who was offended by parents using the word vagina in their complaints about the Paterno tweets.

Sotos is an owner of a Twisted Kilt franchise in downtown Chicago.

I’m not a customer, but I’m told it is a Hooters clone.

From Huffington Post:

Nineteen employees at the Celtic-themed “breastaurant” Tilted Kilt’s Chicago Loop location on Wednesday filed a lawsuit claiming that the eatery’s bar manager sexually harassed them.The lawsuit [PDF] contains disturbing details of incidents that allegedly occurred between the manager, the location’s owners and their scantily-clad staff at the restaurant, located at 17 N. Wabash Ave.

Mark Roth, an attorney representing the women, accused the location’s former manager, whom he described as a “predator,” of making numerous disturbing comments to his clients, CBS Chicago reports.

“There were requests for sex,” Roth told CBS. “There were degrading comments that were made. Something that no woman should have to put up with anywhere, let alone by their manager in the workforce.”

As the Chicago Tribune reports, the women in June filed a sexual harassment complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The women claim they had to work in a “sexually hostile, offensive, humiliating and degrading” environment, where, among the 30 incidents outlined in the lawsuit, the location’s manager and owners made comments such as “Meow, meow, you’re a dirty kitty” and “You don’t know what I’d like to do to you” to the employees. Women who spoke out against these remarks allegedly were given less busy shifts, the Tribune reports.

According to Fox Chicago, management also grabbed employees’ breasts, licked employees’ ears and attempted to kiss the women.

Maybe that is what explains Sotos’ silence these past years of Paterno tweets.

But it doesn’t explain his being offended by the word vagina in the meeting last night. He has surely heard it before at the joint he owns.

Or worse.

Park Ridge parents and community pack board meeting. “It’s not his use of the word vagina but his saying he didn’t like it when women spoke up for their rights.”


Many Park Ridge parents, teachers and students joined Saturday’s Chicago rally and marches.

From the Daily Herald:

Board President Anthony Borrelli distanced the board from Paterno’s statements and said they would look into changing their policies so something like this doesn’t happen again.

“While unfortunate, we should take the time to learn and reinforce our ideas of respect and civility,” Borrelli said Monday night before public comment. “These are qualities that we teach our children and qualities that we should retain as adults.”

Paterno has come under fire for controversial tweets in the past. Blogger Fred Klonsky, a retired teacher from Chicago who writes about education issues, has cataloged several statements he’s attributed to Paterno’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, including anti-Muslim statements, claims Christians who support abortion rights are “hailing Satan,” and frequent criticisms of the Obama administration.

District parent Stacy Kelly said she found it hard to believe that the other members of the board weren’t aware of Paterno’s online behavior before his tweets over the weekend and called for an independent review of the board so the behavior will no longer go unchecked.

“If you are neutral in the face of injustice you are choosing the side of the aggressor,” Kelly said.

Perhaps the most dramatic moment during the almost hourlong public comment came when board member Athan Sotos interrupted district parent Daisy Bowe because she, like several other speakers, used the word “vagina” in her remarks. Sotos said he denounced Paterno’s use of the word and he didn’t want to have to explain to his children why people at the board meeting also used the word.

The crowd shouted down Sotos’ interjections. And when he continued to talk over Bowe, Superintendent Laurie Heinz asked Sotos to stop talking because public comment was not meant to be a dialogue between the public and the board.

A few speakers later, district parent Sarah Nugent told Sotos that what was objectionable about Paterno’s tweets was not his use of the word “vagina” but his saying he didn’t like it when women spoke up for their rights.

After public comment ended Monday night, Heinz said she appreciated so many coming to the meeting and asked them to remember the good that the district does.

“We will not let this incident define the school, the staff, or the district because we deserve better,” Heinz said, her voice cracking with emotion.

Borrelli said in the coming days the board will put application materials for the now-vacant seat on the school board on the district’s website.

Random thoughts about Dathan Paterno and the Park Ridge District 64 board.


Thinking about the Park Ridge District board of eduction and the freaky Dr. Dathan Paterno.

Paterno has been tweeting this crap for years and nobody on the board has made an issue of it. Would you sit next to a guy who tweets openly racist comments about President Obama and his kids, sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and other women politicians based on their gender and even worse stuff than that and not say anything about it?

The board is absolutely complicit.

His tweets have gotten more and more vile since the election of Trump. It gave him permission.

News flash to Dr. Paterno and maybe to the other Park Ridge board members: Not all the demonstrators on Saturday were women.

There were many men.

We are not fully defined by our body parts.

Some of the males had vaginas.

Some of the females did not have vaginas.

Nobody asked me if I did nor did not have a vagina.

And none of that mattered to any of those who were there. It only matters to hateful people like Dr. Paterno.

On another topic.

There are many good people who live in Park Ridge. I got to meet many of them when I taught there. And of course I knew their kids.

And many of the teachers and staff remain my friends five years after retirement. They are quality teachers and an honor to know and an honor to have worked with them. I feel badly that they have a board like this.

As a result of all this Paterno stuff I got a nice note this morning.

Hey Fred. You were the best art teacher ever!!! You always let us have fun and be expressive. Best teacher ever!!!! Glad to see you are doing well.

Nice to get those.

One of the reasons that the board has a creepy guys like Dr. Dathan Paterno sitting there is that Park Ridge voters don’t turn out for school board elections.

That’s on them.

When the board meets tonight and they begin talking about a replacement for Paterno, what will the parents and community say about it?

Will they replace Paterno with another Paterno or another Anthony Borelli, the board president.

Organized Republicans make every effort to challenge candidates that respect teachers and teacher unions when they try to run for the board. Why do the good folks in Park Ridge allow this?

Look at this board.


In a school district of mostly women teachers and employees, one woman sits on the school board.

That is the tradition. The way it has always been.

Would a majority women school board members allow a sexual creep like Paterno to sit next to them for four years?

I hope and think not.

Is the District 64 board complicit in their silence about Paterno for nearly four years? I think so.


Happy, smiling faces of the Park Ridge school board. That’s Paterno, second row, far left.

Reader Mary sends me some more Paterno Tweets:

Here is what this man says on his Twitter page …. and he is a clinical psychologist? D64 School Board member?


1/22/2017: “Most of these vagina screechers didn’t vote, but they mean business. Riiiiiiight. What a farce.”

1/19/2017: ” Alas, the 300 Million Pound Women March provides a strong argument for doing away with women’s suffrage.”

1/19/2017: “How does this constant talking leave this woman enough oxygen for her br…Oh. Never mind.”

1/19/2017: “Procession of Palpable Penis Envy #RenameMillionWomenMarch” ; “Hysterical Horde of Halfwits #RenameMillionWomenMarch”

Wow indeed, Mary.

This is not recent.

I posted Paterno’s offensive, racist, sexist tweets back in 2013.

Meanwhile his cohorts on the District 64 Park Ridge board kept silent.

Nothing from Park Ridge foot doctor and board president Anthony Borelli.

This whole thing is sordid and disgusting.

But it is Park Ridge voters, few who vote in school board elections, who can do something about it. Four board members are up for election in April.

Message from District 64 on Paterno’s resignation.


Dr. Dathan Paterno.

Important Message from the District 64 Board of Education

To the District 64 Community:

We are writing to inform you of the resignation of Board of Education member Dathan Paterno. Dr. Paterno has tendered his resignation effective immediately as a result of posts to his personal Twitter account yesterday. His resignation letter is available on our website at this link.

The Board will immediately begin the process of filling his vacancy for the remaining portion of his term according to Board Policy 2:70. Dr. Paterno’s 4-year term was to expire this spring; he was not standing for re-election to the Board of Education on April 4. A timeline to fill this vacancy is being developed and will be announced publicly in the near future.

We appreciate the support of the District 64 community in understanding that individual school Board members do not speak on behalf of the Board or District 64.

Dr. Anthony Borrelli, President, Board of Education
Dr. Laurie Heinz, Superintendent