Divisions in PSD 150 threaten civility

Mar 25, 2014

‘Change 150’ has been organized and out spoken about its difficulties with the Peoria Public Schools Superintendent and Board for about a month. But Peoria Public Radio’s Tanya Koonce reports some have reportedly taken the public comments to a vicious overtone privately. 

Board Member Laura Petelle was unseated last week by the Change 150 campaign effort. She explained the election got fairly nasty including threats to her child. Petelle says she kept him home from school for a few days and also decided not to talk about it. But she says now it’s important for her to speak. 

“Because some of our employee’s children have now been threatened and bullied at school because of the perception of how their parents feel about these current hot issues in the district and this is  completely inappropriate,” Petelle says.  

She says the board has worked to get district employees to also send their children to Peoria Public Schools. She says threatening behavior is a solid argument against that effort.

Change 150 leaders say the threats are not appropriate and that the group does not agree with threatening anyone - child or adult. However one self-identified group member, Kathleen Deffenbaugh, offered this suggestion to the board last night: 

"You guys need to really get back to the grassroots of why you wanted to be on the school board. We sent a huge message last Tuesday ladies and gentlemen and there a bigger one coming,” says Deffenbaugh.