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posted: 12/1/2010 6:15 PM

Attorney to investigate claims of District 15 minutes tampering

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A third party will decide whether any improper action was taken regarding accusations Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board President Gerald Chapman tampered with meeting minutes.

The school board voted 4-3 Tuesday to direct its attorney, Mike Loizzi, to investigate the allegations Chapman attempted to secretly alter minutes from a March meeting.

"If there is intentional tampering or unethical behavior it should be looked into," board member Rich Bokor said. "Everything right now is accusations, innuendos, charges. It's been nine months, so let's bring this to a conclusion so we can focus on the schools."

Board member Sue Quinn, who levied the accusation, said no one thinks the board president did anything illegal. She opposed getting the board's attorney involved.

"It's unethical, but it's not illegal," she said of Chapman's actions.

Quinn claims Chapman tried to change board minutes regarding a motion she made at a March meeting. Specifically, she said, he tried to insert a monetary amount into her motion that would have scaled back the district's proposed $27 million loan.

Board member Tim Millar argued the minutes debate is a policy matter, not a legal one, and suggested they turn to the Illinois Association of School Boards to save the district from having to pay legal fees.

District 15 pays Loizzi's firm $265 an hour and spends an average of about $20,000 per month on its legal services, Assistant Superintendent Mike Adamczyk said.

Chapman, who favors Loizzi's involvement, said he did nothing wrong and was simply trying to make Quinn's motion less ambiguous.

He said he acted at the request of the board secretary, who independently contacted the district's bond counsel about clarifying the loan amount. He also said he considers the minutes a working draft until approved.

"I'm not tinkering with anything," Chapman said. "Sue's motion didn't even pass, and the minutes she's complaining about were in fact unanimously approved by the board."

One of the few residents at Tuesday's board meeting was Palatine resident Jane Van Wolvelear, who angrily confronted Bokor after the meeting with concerns about cost and transparency.

"You don't need to be spending beaucoup bucks on Joe Lawyer to come up with a solution to a problem," she said.