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July 22, 2024

Will-Grundy-Kendall ROEs Part 3: Scheme and Artifice To Obtain IMRF –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On November 1, 2023

Grundy-Kendall Counties, Ill. (ECWd) –

This is part 3 in a series of articles on the Will County and Grundy-Kendall Counties Regional Offices of Education. Read parts 1 and 2.

This article will discuss the alleged scheme and artifice to qualify for the Illinois Municipal Retirement System (“IMRF”), and by extension, to burden the public.

In 1996, and back-dated to 1995, the Will County ROE and Grundy-Kendall County ROE signed an intergovernmental agreement (“IGA”) establishing the Professional Development Alliance (“PDA”) as an agency of both ROEs. This agreement was reaffirmed in 2007, 2013, and 2023 by the then-Regional Superintendents, including Jennifer Bertino-Tarant (current Will County Executive), Shawn Walsh (current State Board of Education Department Director), Chris Mehochko (current ROE), Paul Nordstrom (former ROE). These individuals have also been, or still are, board members of Vista Learning, Inc. IGAs are perfectly legal and serve a government purpose.

In 1996, the PDA passed a resolution authorizing its employees to participate in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund with a 1000-hour annual work requirement to qualify. IMRF participation is perfectly legal, and this resolution complies with state law.

In 2019, the attorney for Vista Learning sent a letter to Vista Learning, opining on IMRF qualifications of the PDA employees, and states in the letter that even though 50-90% of some PDA employees’ work is performed for Vista Learning, they qualify for IMRF simply because they qualify based on their being PDA employees. It does not matter, according to Vista Learning’s attorney, if they perform any work for the PDA apart from the Vista Learning contract as long as they qualify as PDA employees. Why this letter was necessary is unknown to us, since the people in question were not Vista Learning employees according to the contract, and Vista Learning shouldn’t have even entertained the question.

The 2017 contract (“the artifice”) which we believe to be unlawful as discussed in a previous article, placed the PDA in a subordinate position to Vista Learning, and the establishing clauses clearly indicated Vista Learning was after PDA (government) workers for its private operation and government office space to conduct its operations. Afterall, the same people who were board members of Vista Learning were also Regional Superintendents or employees of the PDA. Who wouldn’t want to operate a corporation without all of the overhead that typically comes with it? Make the taxpayers pay for it, then reimburse the government for agreed upon expenses.

This scheme placed what we believe are essentially Vista Learning employees (although not on paper), operating under the guise of being PDA employees pursuant to a contract, where all of their hours working for Vista Learning were presumed to be counted (as government employees) towards the 1000-hour requirement to participate in IMRF due to the status of the PDA as a governmental agency. The current list of employees shows most with 90%-100% of their work performed for Vista Learning under the contract.

How can someone with 90-100% of their work performed for a private company still qualify for IMRF?

We have asked the Grundy-Kendall County ROE, the Kendall County State’s Attorney, and Vista Learning for comment on this issue and have not received a response as of publication.


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1 Comment
  • Stephany Hammond
    Posted at 11:14h, 02 November Reply

    I understand someone wanted to get a hold of me to talk about what’s happening in Pembroke township our mayor is grifting money and using his position to buy hundreds of properties every year and sell them for up to up to 400% markup. He has also told Springfield that he represents the township which he does it and the township says he should stop saying that but he won’t. He is allowing outside people to come in town and ride on Sand dunes that are private property by telling the people that it’s public land so they trespassing at his word. A child was killed up there on somebody’s private property who he allows and says nothing when people tear down people’s barriers and no trespassing signs. As a matter of fact he owns 35 acres and he has people pay him to write on it and they cross over on the private properties.

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