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School official not running again

November 14, 2018

KANKAKEE — Kankakee school board member Angela Shea is not running for another term in the April board election, expressing frustration with the job.

A one-term member, Shea said residents seem far more interested in the latest coach firing than in bigger academic issues.

Also, she said she was disappointed that her colleagues last month passed over a well-qualified Hispanic woman to fill a recent board vacancy. She was referring to Patricia Santoyo-Marin, a first-generation Hispanic with a college degree and a background in college admissions.

None of the district’s seven board members are Hispanic, even though nearly a third of students are.

The board ended up appointing Calvin Works, who Shea said was well-qualified and would do a good job.

Still, she said in an email, “I am very disappointed that others do not see the need for Latino-Hispanic representation on the board. Debate and disagreement are part of being on the board, but the discussion about this topic was the straw that broke this camel’s back.”

Shea, a product of the Kankakee school district, praised the performance of the district’s superintendent, Genevra Walters, saying she has put together a team of administrators who share her vision for the district’s future.

“I am proud of, and believe in, most of the decisions made while I have been on the board,” Shea said.

But Shea, who works for Cigna, said she becomes frustrated when people make allegations about the school district on social media without any basis in fact. Even when she presents information, they ignore it, she said.

When the high school’s football coach was fired recently, Shea said many people contacted her and other officials about the issue. But not one resident asked the board a question when it spent $1 million on a new reading curriculum, she said.

School board members are unpaid, which Shea said she understood before she was elected and that she had no problem working for the betterment of education.

“Instead, I’ve spent untold hours of time discussing Facebook rumors (when molehills become mountains), coaches of all sorts (who are either evil incarnate or will be the savior of the team) and signs from 20 years ago (commemorating activities from 50 years ago),” Shea said in the email.

On the signs, she was referring to the recent controversy over the removal of a sign honoring the volunteers who built the high school’s football field decades ago.

“It’s interesting to me the things that get people’s attention,” Shea said in an interview. “I have to acknowledge what people say they want is not what I want to do. We have very different views.”

She minces no words when asked whether she plans to run for political office again.

“I won’t,” she said. “It’s been too hard on me.”

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