FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION ACCEPTS
Names General Counsel as Superintendent
SPRINGFIELD -February 1, 2002 -- The State Board of Education
accepted the resignation of Superintendent Ernest R. Wish
at a special meeting today after he declined to end a consulting
agreement with an outside client, it was announced.
"The state superintendent can work only for the school
children and taxpayers of Illinois," said Ronald J. Gidwitz,
board chairman. "We are satisfied that that Mr. Wish's
consulting arrangement violates no laws, but the board feels
there can't be any question in the public's mind about whether
a state superintendent has divided loyalties," he said.
The Board also appointed its general counsel, Respicio Vazquez,
as State Superintendent to serve until a permanent one is
found. A replacement for Vazquez as counsel will be named.
The consulting contract in question is with Near North Insurance
of Chicago, where Wish served as an unpaid member of the company's
executive committee and as a paid consultant to the chairman,
"This is an unfortunate but necessary step," Gidwitz
said. "Ernie Wish has made an extraordinary contribution
to this agency in two months' time. He is responsible for
setting in motion a reorganization plan that will result in
a more efficient operation and better service to school districts.
Further, he has given the agency a new sense of what is possible
to achieve. We are endlessly grateful to him for that work.
"At the same time, his prior commitment to the outside
client makes it impossible for him to remain in this public
Miscommunication between himself and Wish lead to the issue
remaining unresolved until now, Gidwitz said.
He outlined this chronology:
In late November, Wish told an ISBE attorney during a routine
pre-employment interview about the existence of the consulting
In the context of drawing up a contract with Wish, General
Counsel Vazquez brought the matter to Gidwitz' attention in
mid-December. At that time, Gidwitz spoke with Wish and believed
Wish had agreed to end the consulting arrangements.
Wish told him he intended to work "at least 60 hours"
a week as superintendent, Gidwitz said, and Gidwitz took that
to mean Wish would not have time to do outside work. In fact,
Wish later said, he always meant to continue his consulting
That became clear the first week in January when Vazquez
attempted to complete the contract with Wish and found the
consulting issue unresolved.
In subsequent days, Gidwitz, Wish and Vazquez discussed the
matter numerous times, with Gidwitz setting today as the deadline
for Wish to agree to end the consulting agreement or resign
as superintendent. The full board accepted that action this
The planned announcement of phase two of the agency re-organization
plan will go forward as scheduled on Monday, February 4,"
"The Board strongly supports streamlining the agency.
We believe the reorganization will improve services to local
schools. We are committed to moving full speed ahead toward
our goals for helping all students achieve the Illinois Learning
Standards," he said.
"Mr. Vazquez has been closely involved with the development
of the reorganization plan and the Board has complete confidence
in him and the agency's core management team to carry it out,"
Res Vazquez is the General Counsel of the Illinois State
Board of Education. He represents the State Board of Education
in all legal matters.
Mr. Vazquez is a graduate of DePaul University of Chicago
where he earned his Juris Doctor and Bachelors of Science
in Commerce and Business Administration. Mr. Vazquez background
experience includes the following:
1987-88 he was an Assistant Attorney at the Illinois
Attorney Generals Office;
1989-92 Mr. Vazquez served as Assistant Attorney at the
Chicago Board of Education;
1992-1998 he served as Associate General Counsel at City
Colleges of Chicago; and
1998-2000 Mr. Vazquez served as General Counsel at the
City Colleges of Chicago.