Grayslake Elementary District 46 has authorized an attorney to lead an internal investigation into an ethics policy violation complaint that officials sent political emails over a publicly owned system.
State law prohibits public resources from being used on political campaigns.
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Richard Mittelman will head the probe and file a report on his findings on the various accusations involving improper email use.
Mittelman is one of the lawyers for Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128. He also is a Libertyville Township trustee and served on the board of Fox Lake-based Grant Township High School District 124 from 1988 to '89.
In April, Lake County tea party founder Lennie Jarratt's ethics complaint centered on a claim District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll improperly used her taxpayer-owned work email for the school board campaigns of Susan Facklam and Mary Garcia.
Jarratt attached a March 14 email in which Correll purportedly stated she'd check with school board attorney Kevin Gordon on a question about a meet-and-greet gathering for Facklam and Garcia.
Facklam won re-election while Garcia fell short. Garcia was District 46's board president at the time of the campaign.
District policy would have allowed Correll to investigate Jarratt's complaint. However, Gordon told elected officials at a special school board meeting Tuesday it was preferable for her to appoint Mittelman, considering she and her employers are part of the complaint.
"It really is best to bring in a third party to do this," Gordon said.
Mittelman's report should be completed within 30 days, Gordon said. School board President Ray Millington said elected officials will review the document and go from there.
District 46 is far from the first Lake County school system to hire an attorney for an internal investigation.
In 2006, lawyer Daniel Field found a former girls basketball coach's questionable spending on food and alcohol at Grayslake High School District 127 seemed to have been an isolated incident. No further action occurred.
Field also fronted a probe of activity fund spending at Gurnee's Warren Township High School District 121 in 2004. He found former principal Philip Roffman improperly spent public money on theater tickets, silk ties, a telephone-sex line and an Internet swingers club.
Lake County prosecutors received Field's investigation and used it as a road map before charging Roffman after a 10-month investigation. Roffman pleaded guilty to felony theft over $300 for the theater ticket purchase.
Warren officials made public Field's report on the activity fund spending immediately after it was presented to the school board. Grayslake High officials did not release their report, claiming attorney-client privilege.
Millington said Friday that District 46 officials have not yet discussed how to handle the potential release of Mittelman's findings on the ethics complaint.
"That is something we'll have to do once we get the report," he said.