An internal investigation has found Grayslake Elementary District 46 Superintendent Ellen Correll didn't commit ethics violations, as alleged in a complaint that accused her of sending political emails supporting two board candidates.
Former and current District 46 board members, as well as Correll, were implicated in various ethics complaints about political emails before the April 5 election. Libertyville attorney Richard Mittelman was hired to investigate the complaints.
At a District 46 board meeting Wednesday night, it was announced Mittelman found no ethics violations in emails Correll sent related to Susan Facklam and Mary Garcia. Facklam won re-election to the board, but Garcia fell short.
In a statement Correll read to the board, she said she responded quickly to emails and did not deliberately or intentionally want to help any campaign.
Correll said she receives nearly 300 emails per day, but apologized for not taking time to think through her responses before the election.
"I will apologize to you for my role in any of this," Correll told board members. "Again, it was never my intention to support anyone's campaign. By the very virtue of who my board president and vice president were, it put me in a very unpleasant situation. I should have handled it differently."
When board members debated the independent investigation's merits and whether to accept the findings Wednesday, their discussion became heated. The board majority accepted Mittelman's findings and agreed to include a letter of reprimand on the issue in Correll's personnel file.
Board member Shannon Smigielski said she was disappointed in the report and questioned why Mittelman didn't attend the meeting.
"I'm not satisfied that this investigation was thorough or done properly," Smigielski said. "I have a hard time voting on this because it's so incomplete."
Board President Ray Millington released a conclusion of Mittelman's report. In part, it stated Correll has an obligation to read emails sent to her by elected officials, particularly those from the board president and vice president -- the posts formerly held by Garcia and Facklam, respectively.
"As I have found, in most cases, Ms. Correll simply accepted the emails, made a brief comment, if any, but did nothing to aid or advance the political campaigns of Facklam and Garcia," according to Mittelman's conclusion.
Board member Michael Carbone asked Correll why she didn't tell the elected officials about the issue if she was concerned about its ethical implications. Correll replied she had no answer for Carbone.
"For you not to say you were involved in this, I have a hard time understanding that," he told Correll.
Lake County tea party founder Lennie Jarratt of Round Lake Beach lodged the complaint claiming Correll violated board policy prohibiting certain political activity. Jarratt filed the complaint April 19.
Correll was hired as District 46's superintendent in January 2005. She came from Corning Painted Post School District in upstate New York, where she had been an assistant superintendent of instruction.