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updated: 3/23/2011 7:18 AM

Grayslake High board votes under attorney general scrutiny

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  • Ann Dingman

      Ann Dingman

  • Catherine Finger

      Catherine Finger

  • Richard Downes, front left, and his wife Debbie Downes, were among roughly 25 spectators who received no information after Grayslake High School District 127 board members voted on personnel matters March 10. The couple was concerned about action against some wrestling coaches.

       Richard Downes, front left, and his wife Debbie Downes, were among roughly 25 spectators who received no information after Grayslake High School District 127 board members voted on personnel matters March 10. The couple was concerned about action against some wrestling coaches.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
By Bob Susnjara

Illinois' top law-enforcement authority wants the Grayslake High School District 127 board to explain its refusal to provide details to the public about two personnel votes in an open session March 10.

Many of the visitors at that meeting expressed concern some wrestling coaches may have been involved in board actions for an unspecified number of resignations and disciplinary measures.

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Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office sent a letter Monday to District 127 board President Ann Dingman and her colleagues regarding the decision to examine whether the cryptic personnel votes complied with the state's Open Meetings Act.

Dingman, who speaks for the other six board members as president, didn't return messages seeking comment.

How District 127's board handled the personnel issues before the roughly 25 spectators was brought to the attorney general March 11 in an Open Meetings Act request for review submitted by the Daily Herald.

"We have determined that further inquiry into this (Daily Herald) allegation is warranted," wrote Assistant Attorney General Amanda Lundeen.

Board members first voted 7-0 to "approve personnel items as presented." They later voted 5-2 on another personnel action with similar wording.

After the first vague personnel vote, Superintendent Catherine Finger thanked parents and a student for speaking on behalf of the coaches. Finger said she couldn't shed light on rumors surrounding the men.

Finger also said the visitors wouldn't be given any immediate details about the personnel action they witnessed. She told the spectators they could leave before the second personnel vote because they wouldn't receive any information.

In the letter to District 127, Lundeen wrote there are questions about whether the votes were "preceded by a public recital of the nature of the matter being considered and other information that will inform the public of the business being conducted" as required by the Open Meetings Act.

District 127 is asked to provide the attorney general's office an explanation about circumstances surrounding the March 10 meeting and any votes, along with how the actions were announced to the public.

Moreover, the district must provide a copy of final or draft written minutes from the March 10 session. School officials were informed Monday they had seven business days to comply.

Three outcomes in the case are possible, according to the attorney general's office. The public-access coordinator may find no violation occurred, resolve the case through informal mediation or issue a binding opinion.

Finger has contended District 127 was following state law in not immediately revealing the names of the staffers involved in the personnel votes.

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