When two prominent members of the Danville D118 school board abruptly resigned early last month, the community was stunned and confused. As more information about their departures became public, the reaction turned to shock. That’s because the resignations were part of a $600,000 legal settlement between the board and administrators over complaints of inappropriate conduct by one board member toward staff, and failure to respond appropriately to those complaints by another board member.
The episode was an embarrassing blot on the district and its elected leadership.
To repair the breach of trust and confidence between the school district and community it serves, remaining board members first had to meet the challenge of selecting replacements for the open positions.
After a painstaking process of interviewing candidates, the board made its selections public late last week. The choices demonstrate that the board handled the matter properly and professionally.
Selected by the board as replacements for the former members are the Rev. Tyson Parks, a local religious leader, and Christopher Easton, chaplain at the Danville Correctional Center.
Parks and Easton will be sworn in at the board’s Oct. 27 meeting and will serve through April of 2023.
As we reported Saturday, Parks is presiding elder with the African Methodist Episcopal Church and District Superintendent for 17 churches he oversees. He also serves on Danville’s Martin Luther King Jr. committee, is Housing Authority Board vice president, chair of the East Central Illinois Community Action Agency, and is co-chair of the Interdenominational Concern Pastors. Parks had previously sought election to the school board.
Easton is a native of Ohio and has lived in Danville with his family since 2012. In addition to his role at the state prison, he works with a local hospital in crisis response pastoral care and teaches a Bible class at the prison through Danville Area Community College.
Easton seemed to express that issues facing D118 require bringing light into a dark space. Both new candidates are more than capable of serving that mission.
There were more than a dozen candidates for the seats, and six finalists. The field was highly competitive.
While the problems that befell D118 in the past year were substantial and may need further review in order to bring more transparency to the public, the presence of these two new school board members — and the current board making a strong effort to recover from its setbacks — should give the community hope that the school district is once again moving in a positive, constructive direction.