“This was definitely not planned from the start,” said newly elected District 200 Board of Education member Jennifer Cassell of the three-person alliance that she said grew organically on the campaign trail. Cassell, an attorney, shared a platform with Oak Park and River Forest High School wrestling coach and businessman Fred Arkin, and public defender Sara Dixon Spivy 

“I did know Fred. He coached my husband when he was a little Huskie,” Cassell said. “But all three of us kind of met and got to know each other on the campaign trail and realized we had a lot of the same goals, a lot of the same vision, and we worked well together. So it just made sense.”

With 45 of 46 precincts reporting, Dixon Spivy led the field of five with 26.75 percent of the vote. She was followed by Arkin and Cassell, who had 24.99 percent and 23.63 percent, respectively.

The three candidates were united in their support for reforming the district’s disciplinary policies, particularly as they pertain to minority students.

“All three of us are very passionate about the racial disparities that happen at the school around achievement and discipline,” said Cassell.

Spivy said the issue would be among the first she plans on tackling when she takes her seat in May.

“I think we are going to be able to get a lot of really important changes done for the high school,” she said. “One of the things I’m going to be looking to do first is to help Jackie Moore revamp the disciplinary process.”

The three candidates celebrated their victory at Trattoria 225, the Italian restaurant on Harrison Street. Among attendees were state Senator Don Harmon (39th), Oak Park President Anan Abu-Taleb, D200 school board President John Phelan and Vice President Jeff Weissglass, and re-elected Oak Park village Trustee Adam Salzman, among other local elected officials.

D200 board member Sharon Patchak-Layman, who was running for re-election to a third term, placed a distant third, with 14.34 percent of the vote.

“[This] was such a different election than any election I’ve been in,” said Patchak-Layman. “There were so many different resources and funds from individuals that acted as if they were organizations.”

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com

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