Welch votes to hire boss’s son-in-law
Updated: March 29, 2012 3:41PM
Emanuel “Chris” Welch helped to hire his boss’s son-in-law as principal of Proviso East High School.
Tony Valente, hired by Proviso High School District 209 in May 2011, is the son-in-law of Manny Sanchez, a founding partner of the law firm Sanchez, Hoffman Daniels, Forest Leaves has learned.
Welch, who has worked at the firm for five years and was made partner last year, is the board president of Proviso High School District 209 and is running for state representative in the 7th District.
Welch did not disclose the relationship, a violation of the board’s nepotism policy.
The 2010 nepotism policy states that the board practices “strict scrutiny” when it comes to hiring employees who have “familial or business-professional” relationships with any board member. Family members can still be hired so long as they’re the “most qualified” job applicants. Board members must recuse themselves from voting and reveal those relationships, though.
Neither Welch, Sanchez nor Valente returned phone calls and emails requesting comment.
However, in a state rep. candidate questionnaire Welch completed, he said he supported a ban on politically connected hirings, firings and promotions.
“Political considerations should play no part in the hiring and firing and promotion process. That is illegal,” he wrote to the Independent Voters of Illinois.
In a March 8 campaign press release responding to news reports of nepotism, Welch accused his political opponents of “using the press as their firing squad” and insisted he “will not apologize for his vote for working families in the Proviso community.”
“Everyone has to go through the same hiring process, but a lot of the people hired in the school district grew up here,” Welch said. “I know many of them because I also grew up here.”
Valente does not live in the Proviso district. He and his wife, Annette Sanchez Valente, have a house in far west suburban Sugar Grove, where he is a board member with the Kaneland School District 302.
His résumé lists a bachelor’s of science degree from NIU in 1993 and a master’s degree in 2010. He was principal at Hall High School in Kane County for two years, and prior to that he held several administrative positions in the West Aurora High School district.
Two weeks ago, the Forest Leaves reported on 19 friends and family members who secured jobs through Welch.
Thirteen donated money or time to Welch’s campaign for state representative.
Tony Valente also gave $500 to Welch’s fund in September.
“One of the things that’s fairly obvious is that the people on the D209 board are not using standard practices to avoid conflicts of interest,” said Dick Simpson, head of the department of politics at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author of a recent study on Chicago politics.
“It doesn’t seem like they’re even aware of it,” he said.
Simpson said a key element to be considered in instances of nepotism is “what’s going on behind the scenes”
“Nepotism is not technically illegal,” Simpson said. “Corruption, where there’s a direct personal benefit, is.”
District 209 board member Teresa Kelly, a critic of Welch, said she was never informed of the relationship between Valente and Welch’s boss when Valente appeared before the board.
In a prepared statement, Kelly said Welch had an obligation to mention the relationship.
“Ethically, Chris Welch had the opportunity and responsibility to share this information with the full board.”