With one board member accusing the president of attempting to secretly amend meeting minutes, and another labeling the claim a character assassination, the divide on the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board is as palpable as ever.
A heated debate ensued at Wednesday's board meeting when board member Sue Quinn said board President Gerald Chapman tried to change the wording of a motion she made in March.
She read an e-mail exchange in which board Secretary June Becker said Chapman would prefer a specific monetary amount be inserted into Quinn's motion that the district restrict a district loan to bonds for capital projects up to "whatever our debt limit is as set by law."
The documents were obtained months later by resident Lisa Neal, a leading opponent of the district's failed $27 million bond issue, through the Freedom of Information Act.
Quinn said Chapman was wrong to try to change her motion, and proposed the board vote next month on whether to prohibit the president from seeing drafts of minutes ahead of other members.
"It's upsetting to me I found out about this six months after it happened, and only by accident," Quinn said. "It really makes me question what else is happening that I just don't know."
Board member Peggy Babcock, prefacing her statement by saying she probably shouldn't say anything, said this issue is part of Quinn's personal vendetta against Chapman and board ally James Ekeberg.
She pointed to e-mails Quinn regularly sends out to constituents that go after the pair, specifically letters in January and March stating they put adults' interests ahead of the children's and that nothing will change unless they're voted out in April 2011.
"Part of it is you are after the president," Babcock said to Quinn. "You don't like him and you've shown it in many ways."
Ekeberg suggested that the board attorney look into the allegation of wrongdoing, though no decision was made on whether to pursue that.
Chapman remained quiet throughout the discussion. He couldn't be reached Friday to explain why he asks to see the minutes ahead of time.
Board member Tim Millar said he never got minutes before other members when he served as president. He agreed with Quinn that no one should be editing them in advance because other members won't know the changes that have been made.
"I only get to edit the minutes in this board room right now," Quinn said. "Dr. Chapman gets to edit the minutes before anybody gets to see them and put in whatever ... apparently he changes people's motions which is not right and flies in the face of an accurate record."