Tinley Park grad calls out high school board member as 'bully'
A 2015 graduate of Tinley Park High School stunned everyone at a recent meeting of the High School District 228 Board of Education when he demanded that board member Larry Canning be removed or resign after behaving like a “bully,” according to the Tinley Park Patch.
In an exclusive, Jack Cascone spoke with the South Cook News about his plans to organize former classmates to call for Canning’s resignation with him.
“I’ve been reaching out to fellow alums – right now, people I know within the community – to start brainstorming ideas,” Cascone said. “It seems like the easiest way to present something to the board is through a petition. So we probably are going through Change.org, the online petition website. That would circulate through the community, and anyone will be able to sign that. It will have a description of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and stuff like that.”
Change.org has been used nationwide as an online signature-gathering platform for users who create petitions intended for governmental entities, elected officials and even private organizations. The platform is used on college campuses regularly.
Cascone says he isn’t stopping at a petition, though.
“The second part of this is a Facebook page,” he said. “It will be very simple. It will be more than likely titled ‘Remove Larry Canning from the District 228 Board of Education,’ or something along those lines."
Cascone also views this incident is a perfect example of why the younger generations should be more engaged in local politics.
"I think it is important – especially for the alums and specifically the recent alums...," he said. "Almost always, voting turnout for young voters is low ... in a school district race... . We are just starting out; this may be the first election we are a part of, but we still do care about this district."
Debi Stearns, the board president, said that Cascone was exercising his rights to give a statement and should be applauded.
“Many people, including those much older than Jack, are intimidated by speaking in public,” Stearns said. “I am very proud that Jack had the courage to voice his opinion at a board meeting and maintained his composure even while being heckled by an audience member. He is well-informed and invested in the community. He is a young adult that I’m sure we can look forward to accomplishing great things in his life that will benefit us all.”
In fact, Stearns said the audience member who heckled him was a Canning supporter.
A video of Cascone’s statement received by South Cook News shows the woman heckling Stearns when he voiced his concerns about Canning's physical altercation with an audience member. That man, Michael Szydelko, was arrested by the Oak Forest Police Department the next day.
Cascone said that Canning acted in a fashion that is “unbecoming” of an elected official.
“Getting called out in a public meeting for being unethical is hard,” Cascone said. “But even I, a mere junior in college that is barely through his communication and political science double major, can differentiate between what is good behavior and what is bad behavior. I am still learning how to be an adult, but I can say for certain that Adulting 101 states that losing your temper because someone brought your actions to light is not acceptable, especially for an elected official.”
Canning told Patch.com that the April 18 incident was “upsetting and disturbing.”
“I regret that students, parents, and staff that were in attendance had to witness such unprofessional behavior by adults,” Canning said, according to the website. “I take full responsibility for my actions and apologize to anyone who might have been offended by my response to defend myself from the intimidation that was applied by the group of trouble makers.”
The South Cook News has not received a response from Canning despite numerous requests.