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May 20, 2024

U46 – When the light shines, the rats scramble – Injunction coming?

By Kirk Allen & John Kraft

On May 14, 2016

Kane Co. (ECWd) –

When out of control public officials of a public body do things behind closed doors it’s no surprise the steps they will take to cover-up or hide their improper and possibly illegal actions.

We first exposed such a gross abuse of power by certain board members at U46 in May of 2015 in this article.  Since that article, the board has refused to allow a duly elected board member to listen to closed session recordings in spite of clear legal precedent that permits it. Just one example is Rockford v County of Winnebago (1989), which referenced Stone v. Kellogg – As the court concluded a hundred years ago in Stone v. Kellogg, permitting a majority of the board to exclude the minority from knowledge of what the college is doing, or from access to its files and records, is inconsistent with the imposition of such duties.”

 We, in the meantime, have been working diligently to implement language in the law that ensures such a gross abuse of power never happens again and that public officials never have to file suit for that right.

House Bill 4630, Chief sponsored by State Representative Jeannie Ives was introduced and passed unanimously out of the House last month and was specifically written to address the issues taking place at U46.  The bill “Amends the Open Meetings Act. Requires that any and all available minutes and verbatim recordings of meetings closed to the public prior to a newly elected official’s term in a public body shall be available to that official for review, regardless of whether those minutes or verbatim recordings are confidential. Effective immediately.”

Keep in mind the Bill does not “grant the authority”, it simply codifies what already exists in legal precedence.

The Bill passed out of committee in the Senate May 4th and is expected to pass final reading in committee and full floor vote next week.  If and when that happens all indications are the Governor will sign it into law.

It appears the rats at U46 who have refused duly elected officials from listening to certain records have gotten wind of the path HB 4630 has taken and have now placed on the agenda for Monday night an item to destroy closed session recordings.

15. Other Business – Mr. Sanders
A. Approval of Closed Session Minutes and Disposal of Closed Session Recordings prior to November 16, 2014

It’s clear certain board members have something to hide and they have caught wind that this bill is going to pass with bipartisan support.  If that happens, the truth will come out regarding what was said behind closed doors that had nothing to do with public business but instead was a political attack that included serious racial slurs.

We expect to see an emergency injunction filed by certain board members Monday in order to stop this action.

What is so amazing with this is the fact they expect a person to vote on the destruction of a record without letting them access the record to know if such an action is proper.  How can they honestly expect a person to vote on a matter when they don’t allow them access to the information so they can make an informed decision for the destruction of that information?

We understand funding for the action has been secured and it appears the light may well shine on a few rats that would best serve the district by stepping out of public office.  Their vile comments spoken about candidates behind closed doors has no place in our public schools and could have an impact on their outside employment.

Destruction of these recordings will violate U46 Board Policy 2.201 (on page 43) if the Board does not review each and every recording they plan on destroying. The policy states, in part:

Written minutes of closed session meetings must include the date, time, and place of the meeting, the members present and absent, and a summary of the matters discussed. At least every six months, the Board will review the minutes and recordings of all closed sessions not previously released and will decide which, if any, no longer require confidentiality and should be made available for public inspection. The Board will report the results of this review in open session. The Board will vote in open session to approve any minutes of closed session meetings and to destroy recordings of those sessions (after the 18 month retention period has expired).”

Additionally, there is clear case precedence mandating all elected officials of the U46 Board have the same knowledge of school affairs, including closed session recordings. Recordings made prior to a newly elected officials’ term of office must be release to that official upon demand. Oberman v. Byrne (1983), Wayne Township Board of Auditors v. Vogel (1979), Stone v. Kellogg (1895), Kunin v. Forman Realty Corp. (1959), City of Rockford v. County of Winnebago (1989), Roth v. Ahrensfeld (1940) – just to name a few.

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