Kane Co. (ECWd) -
U-46 School District is yet another public body that has failed miserably when it comes to compliance with Freedom of Information and Open Meetings Act compliance.
A FOIA request was sent on the 6th of June and they reported to have received it on Monday the 8th. FOIA outlines a 5 day statutory time frame for compliance. This FOIA was due on the 15th. On the 16th, the day after the deadline they sent a response that is quite frankly laughable and I think you will agree by the end of the article why I say that.
I contacted them and informed them they are in violation of FOIA and to immediately provide the records. Their excuse for non compliance is typical of school districts.
"During summer our work days are M-Th, the offices are closed on Friday, therefore our last day to claim extension was yesterday, the 16th, which we did. We will send you our final response within the next 5 days, by 6/24."
Business days are considered Monday-Friday as outlined by law. The only days they can claim don't count towards the timeline are legal holidays, other days they are closed for business are not holidays.
They tried to claim the following as justification for the illegal delay.
- The request is categorical in nature and requires an extensive
- The requested records require examination by a competent person in order to determine which, if any, are exempt under Section 7 of the Act.
- It would unduly burden or interfere with the operations of this school district to fill the request within the initial five working days. We will notify you as soon as the information is available.
This was the FOIA request:
1. Copy of OMA training certificates for all board members.
2. Copy of FOIA training certificate for FOIA officer
3. Copy of minutes where the Board appointed the FOIA officer
4. Copy of all credit card statements for the last 12 months.
5. Copy of minutes where the board approved the Grading structure currently in place.
6. Copy of Superintendents application for employment, resume and current contract
- Does anyone believe that these records require an extensive search to locate?
- NONE of the records requested are exempt so there is no need to have a competent person review them.
- Considering school is out for the summer, how is it creating a burden or interfering with daily operations?
The explanation for such incompetence can be explained by the records received. The FOIA officer claims there are no minutes where the board appointed a FOIA officer. So my first question is how can this person sign her name as the District FOIA officer when no such appointment ever took place?
Even more concerning with this person who claims to be a FOIA officer is the fact she has not complied with the required FOIA training until AFTER I sent my FOIA request for such records. How convenient. Ignore the law until someone asks.
However it would appear such failings are common place as the board members have a problem with compliance as well. Seven board members of which 2 had not complied with the law until after my request and 2 others that have an Illinois Association of School Boards certificate with a hand written date that is the day before I asked for the records. How many were aware this training could be done for Free at the Attorney General Public Access web site? Six of the 7 certificates provided cost the taxpayers $30.00 each. Why spend $210 for training that can be done for free?
The FOIA officer certificate was dated June 8th, two days after my request. This is another example of how a simple FOIA forces public bodies to comply with the law. The question now is what does it take for them to fully comply with my FOIA request?
I asked for credit card statements and they denied it with a claim they use purchasing cards, not credit cards. They requested I submit a new FOIA for those records. If it turns out those purchases are made on a credit basis with monthly billing then they are in fact credit cards.
They also failed to provide the resume and employment application for the Superintendent and they provided no explanation as to why those were not provided until more prodding. Turns out they did not accept applications and sought out this person so he did not have to provide a resume.
And to round off the biggest concern is once again we see a school district being ran by the Administration instead of the Board of Education. Numerous parents have reached out to us about the grading structure being used at U-46 and we now find out that this grading structure was never approved by the board.
I believe, as most do most parents who contacted us, things of this nature should be placed before the Board members to approve. We will expose more on the grading structure in a future article but for now lets just say we have a better understanding of why the system is failing our kids even though they graduate.
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