School Board member cites community harassment as reason for resignation

Katie Kempff, Editor-in-Chief

On October 12, the District 303 School Board held their regularly scheduled meeting. The morning after that meeting, now-former Board Member Carolyn Waibel submitted her resignation. 

In her letter of resignation, which is published on the District 303 website, Waibel states: “My experience with this school board has been a growth experience, for which I am extremely grateful. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with the students and watching them soar off into the world year after year has definitely been a highlight.” 

At the meeting, Waibel introduced herself as a “disabled, single mom of a special needs St. Charles East graduate.” She went on to describe the harassment she has faced throughout the past year from members of the community, which ultimately led to her resignation. 

“For the past twelve months, there has been a finite group of people on social media who have accused me, been mean to me, said my name, every day for the last 365 days of the year on social media,” Waibel said. 

More specifically, she described the threatening actions they have taken against her. She said that she has received threatening emails with messages such as “your days are numbered,” or violent YouTube videos with “this could happen to you” attached. 

Yet Waibel said that, if the online threats were the only harassment she had to deal with, she “wouldn’t be scared.” 

“The things that have been said every single day for the past twelve years by the people sitting in this audience [of the School Board Meeting] … are the most gruesome, horrible, offensive and worst things I’ve ever heard in my entire life,” Waibel said. She said there have been insulting comments made about her as a parent, person, mother, and about her son. 

She also described how the harassment was physical in nature. 

“Someone has harassed me in my face, walking into meetings when I was on a walker,” she said. “I have had dead animals thrown on my driveway, my house has been vandalized, I’ve been followed and videotaped in a grocery store shopping with my son, my home was broken into, my car was vandalized.”

Waibel also shared at the Board Meeting how she has had to “file many police reports [and] put in a security system.” Even with these additional safety precautions, she said: “I continue to no longer feel safe in my house, my car, my job, this school.”

In a letter addressed to “District 303 Families,” Jillian Barker, President of the School Board, stated: “The School Board wishes to thank Ms. Waibel for her service to our students, staff and community.” The letter also gave information on the application process to fill the vacancy left in the Board by Waibel’s resignation. 

Following her descriptions of her harassment, Waibel expressed her dissatisfaction with the School Board’s handling of her situation. 

“This board, this district has not protected its own,” she said. “I call for immediate action. There are other boards in this state that have the courage to take care of their own people, this board is not one of them. I am ashamed to be on it.”

The X-Ray has reached out to Carolyn Waibel and Jillian Barker, School Board President, for comment and has not received a response.