Mattoon, IL. (ECWd) –
Prior to the November 15, 2022, Mattoon School Board Meeting, Board Chairman Michelle Skinlo was caught electioneering on school property when we spotted her passing her election petition sheet to a fellow board member for his signature while seated at the boardroom table.
When questioned, and a few minutes later, she “voided” that particular election petition sheet. We agree it should have been voided, however, there should be clear guidance to other board members and candidates that soliciting signatures for election petitions on school property is improper.
The State Officials and Employees Ethics Act (which local governments must adopt) defines “Political” and “Prohibited Political Activity” and Section 1-5(8) mentions petitions. Section 5-15 further defines “Prohibited Political Activities” as using state (or local) resources for electioneering: ie: school board meeting room and tables and chairs. Section 5-15 is one of the Sections local governments, including school districts, are statutorily required to adopt (See Section 70-5(a)).
After the school board meeting, Superintendent Tim Condron and I discussed the school attorney’s alleged written opinion on the disputed open meetings act violation, and Superintendent Condron told me that he would check with the attorney about publishing the opinion and get back to me on the answer. Even after a follow-up email, Superintendent Condron has failed to respond or even acknowledge I sent him an email asking about it.
This school board is playing a sad game of false accusations against another board member, and then refusing to produce the written opinion from the board’s attorney. These false accusations should not go unchallenged, and the attorney’s written opinion should not go unpublished…unless there is something to hide.
This will continue to be an issue for Chairman Skinlo and Board Member Dale Righter in the near future as the public allegation against a fellow board member must be proven or disproven. It cannot remain behind closed doors. Righter and Skinlo either need to apologize for their false accusations or prove up those allegations with the school attorney’s written opinion. Nothing less is acceptable.