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Proviso Probe

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Flowers, the ROE and the Illinois State Board of Education

Have you been following the drama for Charles Flowers, Regional Superintendent Suburban Cook County Schools?

Flowers was investigated for various allegations of misuse of funds. Since then various entities have acted unsympathetically to the ROE (Regional Office of Education).

Cook County demanded repayment of a loan. The ROE didn't have the money. The ROE's landlord (Westchester elementary schools) demanded payment of back rent. The ROE didn't have the money. The ROE got an office in Broadview, but was shut down for lack of an occupancy permit. Now there is no office and the ROE functions aren't being done. See Daily Southtown (Duaa ElDeib).
If you're one of about 25,000 teachers or administrators in any of the 143 school districts needing the services of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, try back later.

Has Flowers made mistakes? Have his actions cast doubt on his competence?


Would the Village of Broadview normally keep a government office from operating for 30 days for lack of an occupancy permit?

I doubt it. But Flowers has few friends. And life is harder when no one wants to help you and lots of people are looking to "throw you under the bus".

But I'd like to step back.

If the Illinois State Board of Education and other authorities in the bureaucracy are willing to let Flowers and the ROE twist in the wind, what's the say about the office?

It seems to me a major function of the ROEs across Illinois is to obfuscate accountability when the Illinois State Board of Education either incorrectly processes paperwork or takes a long time. The teacher or district submitting documents can't be sure if the ROE is responsible or the Illinois State Board of Education.

The ROEs are funded by state government (Illinois General Assembly and Governor). So, when something goes wrong at one ROE the recourse goes through Springfield. But the ROEs serve parts of the state.

If the President of the Cook County Board makes a mistake, s/he has to answer to the commissioners. Virtually every executive in the U.S. political system has to answer to a legislative body with the power of the purse and the legislative body serves the same group of voters as the executive.

One of the few (only?) exceptions is a ROE in Illinois. They don't have local legislative bodies to hold them accountable. So, someone who lacks the competence to do the job can get elected and it's not clear how to remove the person or hold her/him accountable.

The Flowers debacle shows the office should be eliminated as an elective office and be appointed by the governor or the state superintendent of education.

Team Flowers would probably argue the office doesn't have the funding to do the job it's expected to do. So, many of the financial problems of the Flowers administration originate with the office being underfunded. This is probably true, but....

Did the Flowers administration use the money it had wisely?

It seems clear that some money was either misspent or spent without the required documentation that it was spent properly.

Has Flowers handled the media well?


Are other public officials, including elected officials, withholding money from the ROE that would probably go to the ROE if Flowers hadn't gotten himself into trouble?


Even the most pro-Flowers interpretation of the situation is that he and his appointees made a mess. And Flowers lacks the skills to dig himself and the office out of the hole. And the Illinois State Board of Education seems content to allow the Suburban Cook County ROE to founder.

PS It does seem like Proviso's state legislators could do something to improve the situation. Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) is on the Senate Education Committee and has been the chair in the past. Sen. Dan Cronin (R-Elmhurst) is the senior Republican on that committee. Like Lightford and Cronin State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) is on her chamber's Education Committee. Yarbrough is the Democratic Committeeman for Proviso Township. And she's the person who persuaded the Cook County Democratic Party to nominate Flowers. Although she and Flowers are not as tight as they were.

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  • What questions should be asked of Yarbrough, Lightford and Cronin?

    What ROE services are not being performed because of the situation at the ROE?

    In what other ways can the situation potentially harm individual school districts, teachers and students?

    Would you support offering Flowers to better paying job to get him out of the ROE so someone else can be installed?

    What action has the Illinois State Board of Education taken to mitigate the harm of the situation? What can the Illinois State Board of Education do?

    What should be done in the future to prevent one bad Regional Superintendent from causing problems?

    Are the ROEs adequately funded?

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 1:27 PM, November 14, 2009  

  • Dear Carl,
    I read your questions and there's one that is absolutly crazy....
    "Would you support offering Flowers to better paying job to get him out of the ROE so someone else can be installed?"
    How can you even defend his illegal and criminal activities and yet "let's offer him another high paying job in government(Taxpayer money) to get rid of him???
    Flowers actions are criminal and have destroyed the ROE! His performance and his hirings are all incompetents. The only job Flowers should be getting is a job in the prison system making 10 cents an hour! Flowers should be ordered to pay back what he took(stole) and also pay a huge fine, and also lose his teaching certificate(he hardly ever used it) and the entire office should be closed immediatly!!!
    P.S. Why is Yarbrough distancing herself from her protege ,Charles Flowers? All of Flowers hires at the ROE are Yarbrough allies,Flowers has done everything Yarbrough wanted, but now when his ship is sinking she's acting like she hardly knew him. What a hipocrite Karen is.

    By Anonymous the truth, at 6:35 PM, November 14, 2009  

  • Why should Lightford get involved to help Flowers?? Flowers hated her and talked bad about her and worked with Yarbrough to defeat her.
    Nobody cares about Flowers, even his allies Yarbrough, Manzo and Peraica have abandoned him!

    By Anonymous Chuckie, at 6:39 PM, November 14, 2009  

  • Why has Flowers refused to talk to the media?
    Why has'nt Flowers been forced to speak in Springfield in a public legislative meeting to explain his actions?
    Is it because the Democrats control springfield,the house and senate and the Govoner's office?
    Is the reason Flowers won't be convicted because,Anita Alvarez(River Forest) and Pat Quinn(Oak Park) are Democrats from the Western Suburbs and have been asked by yarbrough(Maywood) to not prosecute him, just force him out by recinding his licence?
    Illinois,Cook County,Proviso Township and Chicago are fisically broke and morally corrupt thanks to the Democratic Party and there corruption!

    By Anonymous james, at 9:03 PM, November 14, 2009  

  • Carl,
    It appears that you have some sympathy for Flowers however the facts remain:
    1. Upon election to office he hired his sisters (2) nephew, and girlfriend.
    2. He used the office like his personal piggy bank with lavish lunches, dinners, trips ec.
    3.Coerced Todd Stroger to give him 190k to address shortfalls but obviously used the $$ to continue to mismanage the office.
    4. Hired some of the same bad actors as his top staff who offered nothing but a drain on the office.
    5. The biggest mistake he made was to distance himself from those who offered him sound advice and his refusal to answer questions concerning his conduct.

    This office has had problems in the past being underfunded; but a stubborn ineffective manager was not one of them.

    There is a movement to dissolve the office, which is not a good idea. (why throw the baby out with the bath water) Flowers, simply needs to own up to his sins and move on.

    PS What can Yarbrough, Lightford and Cronin do at the state level? Vote to abolish the office and have the state board assume these duties.

    and offer him a new job in government? surely you jest!

    By Anonymous Landis, at 9:11 AM, November 15, 2009  

  • I get that people don't like offering someone who is under investigation for corruption and seems to be incompetent a better paying job.

    But there are real teachers, substitutes and school districts that are being harmed by delayed services by the ROE.

    If there's a way to remove Flowers without getting him to relinquish the job, I'm for it.

    But I'm not aware of a system designed to remove an incompetent Regional Superintendent of Education.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 11:58 AM, November 15, 2009  

  • What ever happened to ACCOUNTABILITY?
    Why is Flowers not being held to account for his actions??
    Why ius he still being paid his full,6 figure salary,while the office his runs and the people he hired and gave raises too,his family and friends, why can't his office do the job they were hired to do??
    I don't get it, but it seems to me that incompetent is to nice a word.He spouts off all his degrees and calls himself, Dr. Flowers, but he can't even process paperwork.
    lastly, he should never be able to work for any goverment job, including a school district, because MY HARDWORKED TAXES SHOULD'NT HAVE TO PAY THIS ILLITERATE LYING,CHEATING AND COWARDLY MAN TO KEEP ON SCAMING US TAXPAYERS!
    Just think, Flowers tried to cut a deal once with Chris Welch, that he would support him if Welch would only name him superintenedent of district 88.Thank God, Welch knew better!

    By Anonymous Willie, at 6:23 PM, November 15, 2009  

  • You Will go to your dying day defending this scoundrel won't you?

    Why would we give this Criminal a better job to reward the damage that he has done?

    Flowers: FAIL

    By Anonymous I'm Just Saying....., at 11:47 AM, November 16, 2009  

  • Why does'nt Theresa Kelly and McDermott come out and voice there concern about Flowers and his cronies at the ROE? Why does'nt Karen Yarbrough come and speak about the damage Flowers has done to education in Cook County?
    Why does'nt Manzo and Peraica come out and denounce the damage Flowers has done to education throughout Cook County?
    Why does'nt the FOREST PARK REVIEW come out and write a story about the corruption at ROE?
    The reason all these individuals/politicians/BS artists are suddenly so quite is because they all supported Flowers and all have allies working in his office and they have no political courage to come out publically and demand and explanation and his resignation!
    Shame on Kelly,McDermott,Yarbrough,Manzo,Peraica and the Forest Park Review.These individuals and this paper have lost all credibility!

    By Anonymous jagie, at 7:11 PM, November 16, 2009  

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