Could Cruz becoming a political martyr in the face of standing up to Pritzker mask mandates become a “shot heard round Illinois” as parents and local elected officials become uppish to mask and other kinds of mandates?
Could a Latino elected to school board being removed become the pebble to shift more Hispanics away from the Democratic Party in the Land of Lincoln?
UPDATED 1/13/22 4:50PM CST: Capitol Fax collected additional newsprint and reviewed the December 3, 2021, release and fundraiser for Cruz.
Also removed Justin Burau from list of Republican candidates, since he filed paperwork with the FEC last month to run in the new IL-03.
UPDATED 1/13/22 1:50PM CST: According to the Chicago Tribune‘s Daily Southtown published story early Thursday afternoon, Rob Cruz was unanimously removed from the Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 Board of Education when the other 6 Board members declared Cruz’s spot “vacant”.
Ex Board Member Cruz vows litigation in response to the Board majority’s action.
Per the school district’s attorney Burt Odelson:
“…members have a duty to uphold a code of conduct that includes protecting the interests of the taxpayers, and said that prevents members from seeking personal gain, including political fortune, from the office.
“Odelson said Cruz violated the code because he had no authority to speak on behalf of the board. Not only had he never brought the potential lawsuit before the board during a meeting, apparently, he’d never even informally floated the idea, Odelson said.”“Oak Lawn High School Board
“Oak Lawn High School Board member Robert Cruz removed from office, vows lawsuit“, Daily Southtown, 1/13/22, 12:56PM CST
The Oak Lawn Community High School (OLCHS) District 229 is holding a special meeting tonight in Oak Lawn to discipline Board Member Rob Cruz, who was elected to the school board last April.
The discipline to be done by his peers on the school board is one of two possibilities:
- The Board majority could vacate Cruz’s spot on the School Board, effectively removing him from office
- The Board could censure Cruz for his actions
If the Board vacates Cruz’s spot on the Board, a censure will not be needed.
Locally, IL-11 Republican congressional candidate Catalina Lauf of Woodstock is rallying to Cruz, at least through Twitter by retweeting activist Moinque Hoffman’s tweet advertising the rally supporting Cruz and the School Board meeting tonight in Oak Lawn.
Hoffman is the 3rd Ward Republican committeeperson from Chicago:
Cruz issued a press release yesterday morning that was published in The Southland Journal which can be viewed in its entirety here.
The superintendent of OLCHS District 229 issued the following press release responding to Cruz’s points Tuesday afternoon:
OLCHS District 229 Board of Education Member Robert Cruz issued a press statement this morning that includes numerous inaccuracies.
Mr. Cruz’s assertions unfairly and inaccurately portray the actions of the Board of Education, the work of the OLCHS staff, and the character of our OLCHS students. Listed below are statements from Mr. Cruz that cannot go unanswered.
Cruz Statement: “Our board president has decided to side with Governor Pritzker”
The Truth: No member of the Board of Education (other than Mr. Cruz) has “sided” with or against the Governor at any time. OLCHS has ensured that all students, staff, and visitors are as safe as possible while in our school. This commitment includes following the guidance as issued by the CDC and the IDPH. Additionally, the Board’s possible action against Mr. Cruz is due to violations of his Oath of Office, School Board Policy, and state laws, NOT because of his opposition of the Governor.
Cruz Statement: “As a board, we voted on July 21st, on the recommendation of the administration to be mask-optional”.
The Truth: The Board of Education took no such action on July 21st or at any other point in time. At the July 21st Regular Meeting of the Board, the administration briefed the Board on the Fall 2021 school reopening planning. The CDC and IDPH guidance at that time stated that vaccinated individuals did not need to wear masks and that unvaccinated individuals were recommended (but not required) to wear masks. The administration indicated that OLCHS would be strictly following this guidance. At no time did the administration state that masks would be “optional”.
Cruz Statement: “We (the BOE) collectively agreed that Bill 2789 (giving the health department and the governor’s office authority over private and public-school openings, during a time of an emergency) was not in District 229’s best interest.”
The Truth: At the July 21st Board meeting, Mr. Cruz stated his opposition to Bill 2789. There was no action taken by the Board on this issue and no consensus was established.
Cruz Statement: “At our school alone, the mental health aspects have been overwhelming.”
The Truth: Increased stress and anxiety have been observed in all walks of life and in all schools in Illinois and the country, not OLCHS alone. To address the growing social, emotional, and mental needs of our students that the pandemic has created, OLCHS added staffing and support programs to assist our students and their families. We have enhanced our student mental health screening program. We implemented a rigorous “return to school” acclimation program at the start of the school year. We know that our students need help, and we are using all available resources to provide that help.
Cruz Statement: “We have had increased drug use (to the point where bathrooms have had to be shut down during school hours), double digit increases in kids seeking help at the counselor’s offices and fighting to the point of expulsion.”
The Truth: Our data indicates the frequency of major infractions of our student discipline code (drugs, fighting, vandalism, etc.) are statistically equal to the data prior to the pandemic. We have recently closed a few bathrooms due to a staff shortage to ensure proper supervision at all times. Students always have access to most bathrooms.
Cruz Statement: “I am being targeted because I refuse to accept government overreach in America.”
The Truth: The Board of Education is considering action against Mr. Cruz due to violations of his Oath of Office, School Board Policy, and state laws, not because of his political beliefs or positions.From Oak Lawn Community High School District 229 press release from Superintendent Michael J. Riordan
Should be for an interesting meeting tonight in Oak Lawn.
Cruz is one of several Republican candidates seeking the nomination to challenge the winner of the Democratic primary in June between Congressman Sean Casten (D, Downers Grove) and Congresswoman Marie Newman (D, LaGrange).
Including Cruz, the Republican candidates who’ve filed paperwork in the new IL-06 District with the Federal Election Commission are:
- Niki Conforti, businesswoman from Wheaton
- Burr Ridge Village President Gary Grasso
- Scott Richard Kaspar, Trump donor/fundraiser and unsuccessful candidate for Orland Township supervisor in 2021, who had former Governor Rod Blagojevich cut a video ad with him
- Catherine Anne O’Shea, unsuccessful Republican primary candidate in IL-03 in 2020
- John Albin Ostman
- Orland Park Village President Keith Pekau
From the desk of John Lopez: Given Cruz is pursuing a congressional bid, and given last May, national activist Scott Presler campaigned at a joint fundraiser for Cruz, Catalina Lauf and gubernatorial candidate Gary Rabine, some might say he’s in a win-win no matter what his peers on the School Board do.
If removed from office, or even censured, in light of Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin’s victory in November last year, local control of schools and consequences when conservative Board members and parents get uppish against mandates could ignite the Republican primary season on the eve of petition circulation.
Even a censure of Cruz could have a similar effect.
Additionally, Cruz will likely see a boost to his congressional bid in the crowded Republican primary field, enough to set him apart from proven elected leaders like Pekau and Grasso, or above Trump-ally Kaspar. Both Grasso and Pekau have refused to enforce Cook County mandates.
While McHenry County and northern Kane County voters will no longer cast ballots in the IL-06 congressional race this year, given local involvement supporting Cruz and potential ramifications for the 2022 election cycle, McHenry County Blog will monitor this story.