Board of Education members react to lack of communication

By Joe McGehee
Staff Writer

The Feb. 24-March 2, 2010, issue of The Rock River Times (TRRT) reported District 205’s violation of its own Media Response Protocol regarding its failure to respond to the Feb. 19 arrests of six Eisenhower Middle School students for possession of cannabis.

Sgt. Mike Spelman of the Rockford Police School Liaison Unit said Feb. 22 the six arrests were “unique.” He said three male and three female students, ages 12-13, were arrested and charged with possession of cannabis, and two of them were charged with intent to deliver. None of the six was carrying a weapon, and the incident was not gang-related, Spelman said.

As of press time Feb. 23, TRRT had left nine messages for District 205 Chief Communications Officer Mark Bonne—six Friday, Feb. 19, one Monday, Feb. 22, and two Tuesday, Feb. 23—all of which went unanswered.

Board of Education members respond

TRRT contacted four Rockford Board of Education members Monday, March 1, to inquire about their perceptions of the events surrounding the Feb. 19 arrests at Eisenhower and Bonne’s failure to respond to repeated phone calls for comment.

“I’m not aware of this situation,” said Lisa Jackson, board member. “I would have to speak with Mark (Bonne) first before commenting.”

Board member Jude Makulec said: “I return every phone call, and I expect that our communications department would do the same. The responsibility and courtesy of returning phone calls is important to any professional position.”

Board Vice President Harmon Mitchell said: “I haven’t heard anything about this. I haven’t heard of this until today (March 1). I usually hear about these things from the administration.”

Board President David Kelley said: “I’ll look into this today. Hopefully, I can find out more about this situation for you.”

Bonne reacts to Feb. 19 events March 1

Approximately two hours after placing calls to all Board of Education members, Bonne, accompanied by Chief of Student Support Colleen Cyrus, called TRRT. Bonne and Cyrus were again reminded TRRT was calling for comment from the school administration about the Feb. 19 arrests at Eisenhower, not for verification of facts of the arrests.

When asked why he failed to return any of the nine messages left regarding the arrests, Bonne said: “I tried calling you back, but your office was closed for the day. After that, I spoke with Sgt. Spelman, and he let me know he gave you all the facts. So, there wasn’t much I could add to that.”

When asked to comment about the arrests of the six Eisenhower Middle School students, Cyrus said: “It’s a horrible thing. These students have been recommended for discipline according to the district’s discipline code.”

Cyrus added: “I have no idea how marijuana got into Eisenhower. But to prevent it from happening again, we need help from the parents of our students. The parents need more information about issues like this.”

Spelman said Feb. 22 that parents should look for any changes in their child’s behavior, friends, normal routines or personalities as signs of possible drug involvement.

From the Mar. 3-9, 2010 issue

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