Hinsdale 86 Has ‘Serious’ Issues With Agency’s Opinion

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HINSDALE, IL — Hinsdale High School District 86 has “serious concerns” with an attorney general’s recent determination that the school board violated the state’s open meetings law with a vote last year on whether to have students go remote.

In November, the board voted 4-3 against the superintendent’s recommendation to go into an “adaptive pause” for two weeks as coronavirus cases surged. No item on the meeting agenda indicated the board would take a vote.

In a statement to Patch this week, the district said the school board would discuss the attorney general’s opinion at its July 22 meeting.

“As the attorney general’s office notes, the board has since revised its agenda practices and now itemizes any known actions that are proposed by the administration under the relevant general agenda heading,” the district said. “Furthermore, the board has not received any complaints about the lack of notice based on its current agenda language, and remains committed to transparency.”

After the November meeting, Patch questioned whether the board followed the state Open Meetings Act, which requires public bodies to give notice on the actions they may take. The Elmhurst-based Citizen Advocacy Center filed a complaint with the attorney general.

In an interview, Ben Silver, an attorney with the center, said he was interested in what the district’s concerns may be. He said the attorney general was right to insist that public bodies give notice before taking final action on an issue.

“This is not a big, difficult requirement,” Silver said. “Public bodies across the state follow it all the time. If you plan to take final action on an item, it goes on the agenda.”

In its response to the center’s complaint, the district’s law firm, Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick and Kohn, argued the board had already given Superintendent Tammy Prentiss authority to make decisions on the pandemic. Because of that, the law firm contended, the board’s vote was not final action and only served as guidance for the superintendent.

“(A)lthough the Superintendent ultimately decided to forego the adaptive pause, she could just as well have decided to implement the adaptive pause – while her employer may not have been pleased with such an action, it would have fallen under her authority and discretion (under a previous board resolution),” the law firm said.

The district further argued that the public had notice that the issue was on the agenda under the item, “Return to School Update.” The meaning of that item, the district said, was “abundantly clear, and the community unquestionably understands the nature of the subject – namely, keeping the public apprised of any updates concerning its ongoing efforts to manage the return to school by students and staff during this unprecedented pandemic.”

In November, Kevin Camden was the board’s president. Camden and two other incumbents lost in the April 6 election, with a new majority assuming control of the board.

Patch

via Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch https://ift.tt/3r8nRzC

July 14, 2021 at 05:07PM

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