Winners of the recent Community High School District 218 board election were sworn in Tuesday night, except for incumbent Ron Pratl, whose narrow victory has been held up while the county conducts a recount.
Pratl, of Chicago Ridge and a Richards High School alum, won his third term over opponent Linda Flanagan-Vahl by just 22 votes.
However, a source within the school district told Patch that Pratl missed Tuesday night’s special meeting because he has resigned. It has been alleged that Pratl stepped down sometime after the April 11 board meeting under the duress of fellow board members. If true, no announcement has been made.
A second source close to the school board has alleged that Pratl was caught orchestrating no-bid school contracts for his friends’ companies—breaking contracts into small amounts to evade board approval.
Pratl has not returned emails sent to his personal account or returned phone messages left at his work and home. His picture and information, however, remain on the district website.
Superintendent John Byrne wouldn’t comment on the possible resignation and said he knows only as much about Pratl's seat as Cook County election officials have made public.
“We’re waiting for whenever the election process completes,” Byrne said. “It would be unfair to say anything before we know the resolution of that situation.”
About the possible misuse of school contracts, Byrne said, “I don’t know nothing about that.”
Before the regular meeting, the board entered into a 90-minute executive session. The contents of those discussions are confidential for the time being.
In related board news, a settlement has been reached with the family of a special education student.
The contents of the settlement are also confidential “because it’s all attached to the name of one child,” Byrne said. “It was paperwork that wasn’t completed the first two years. The child was placed, and it’s a residential placement, so we would have paid that all along.”
The settlement required Byrne’s signature, not board approval.
The board shuffled new board officers by vote, and with it the old board was sine die.
Randy Heuser took over as president, while Marco Corsi assumed the role of vice president. Karen Burmeister replaced Pratl as board secretary.
District 218 board officers are not bound by term limits, but they are aware of the importance of changing perspectives, Heuer said.
“As you can see our board, there’s one person that’s changing, and that’s nice we have continuity,” he explained. “We have great administrative staff and (this will) give them a fresh set of eyes ...”