Some concerned Glen Ellyn residents are questioning what D41 board president Robert Bruno, 64, is hiding about his past as a high school social studies teacher in New Jersey. Back in 1986, Bruno was not rehired by the Westfield School District in Jersey for reasons that included “an incident with a black student,” “the man himself,” and “lack of professionalism,” the Westfield Leader newspaper reported at the time.
Recent online conversations surrounding the June 5, 1986 article on a neighborhood chat site, Glen Ellyn Forum, caught the attention of village resident Jeff Cooper; he challenged Bruno during the public comment period at the July 15 school board meeting.
“The newspaper didn’t go into any details about the incident, so I told him we need clarity on this,” Cooper told the DuPage Policy Journal. “We need to know what happened.”
Cooper also asked Bruno if he told the University of Illinois, where he is currently a professor of labor and employment relations, about the incident when the university was considering hiring him. He then asked Bruno to step down as president of the board until it becomes clear what happened.
In a brief response during the meeting, Bruno provided no details about the incident with the black student, or about whether he informed the University of Illinois about his past. He said that he was not rehired by the New Jersey district because of “differences in political philosophy.” He was quoted in the Westfield Leader as saying “Politically I am very liberal." He has since had a “highly successful career in education,” he said, and the matter “has no relevance” concerning his role as a D41 board member.
A career timeline listed on Bruno’s resume posted on the University of Illinois website says that the university first hired him back in 1995. Employment history before 1991 is not listed.
Cooper said he has been going to D41 board meetings for the past eight years to keep an eye on district spending. His concerns about spending only increased, he said, when Bruno was elected to the board in 2017.
He also said he will bring Bruno’s past up again during the next board meeting, scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, and will keep bringing it up until he gets some answers.
“I don’t have kids in the school so I don’t have to worry about retribution,” he said.
Bruno, board vice-president Jason Loebach and the district’s communication’s officer, Erika Krehbiel, did not respond to requests for comment.