Controversial high school board member Jill Manrique, who wore Palestinian headscarf at D219 graduation in Skokie, resigns – Chicago Tribune

Just over two months after Niles West High School District 219 School Board member Jill Manrique sparked controversy by wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh on the stage at the graduation ceremony at Niles West High School in Skokie, a historically Jewish suburb, she abruptly quit. , saying she can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood.

District 219 is accepting applications from residents interested in filling the vacancy on the Board of Directors left by Manrique’s departure.

“I had trouble finding accommodation in the neighborhood,” Manrique said, adding that the rent for his apartment had gone up by $600. “It was a big number and no improvements were made to the building. We haven’t even had consistent heat all winter.

Manrique, 37, a single mother of three, said she recently moved to Evanston where she found an affordable apartment.

She was elected to the Niles West High School School District 219 School Board in April 2019 and her term ended in the spring of 2023.

Manrique’s time on the board has not been without controversy. She said she knew her choice to wear a Palestinian cultural headdress, called a keffiyeh, around her neck at Niles West’s graduation ceremony on May 22 would be controversial, but she did it anyway to show support for Palestinian students who she says are marginalized and oppressed. at school and in the community at large.

The backlash against Manrique was swift. She said she received death threats and that some people accused her of being insensitive for wearing a keffiyeh to the graduation ceremony of a school that has a large number of Jewish students.

She said her resignation from the school board had nothing to do with the keffiyeh controversy.

“I know why I left and I think anyone who knows me would know that I’m not one to run away from a fight and I’m not a person who runs away from the people I’ve worked with,” she said. declared.

In her letter of resignation to the school board and the community, which she posted on her Twitter account, Manrique said she had no regrets about wearing the keffiyeh.

“Security is not cops with uniforms and guns roaming our hallways,” she wrote. “Safety is when our students, staff, and community members feel there is no other way into our spaces than their full, authentic selves…where children Palestinians can wear the keffiyeh without fear, and Jewish children can wear a yarmulke without fear, and Muslim children can wear a hijab without fear, and trans children can use any bathroom they like without fear.

“Safety means we can all live our lives without disruption or fear as ourselves,” she added. “Security means our families have safe housing, food, diapers, internet, clothing, child care and any other support they need to thrive.”

In a statement on its website, Niles Township High School District 219 said it is accepting applications from qualified applicants who would like to be appointed to School Board D219.

“The position became vacant due to the resignation of Ms. Jill Manrique, who resigned as a member of the Board of Directors on July 14, 2022,” he said. He also said the board would fill the vacancy resulting from Manrique’s resignation within the next two months, and that the person selected would serve on the board for the remainder of Manrique’s term, which ends in 2023. He also said that nominees should familiarize themselves with the board’s policies regarding the general duties and responsibilities of a board and board member, including fiduciary responsibilities, and compliance with board policies regarding conflicts of interest; ethics and the prohibition of gifts. Council policies are available on the District 219 website. Nominations must be submitted by noon August 4.

“We thank Ms. Manrique for her service to the D219 community and wish her well in her future endeavours, April M. Stallworth, executive director of communications and partnerships with Niles Township High School District 219, said in an email. mail.

“I didn’t want to finish my term early,” Manrique said. “I loved being a member of the board of directors.”

“I hope whoever they put on the school board actually cares about the people, cares about the students, especially those who have not been heard and also cares about the workers in the building and uses this position power for good instead of just good for themselves,” she added.

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