Grayslake Elementary District 46 board members agreed Wednesday night disciplinary action isn't necessary against employees or elected officials named in an ethics complaint investigated by a former judge.
Henry Tonigan III charged the district $14,337 for 61 hours of work from June 7, 2011, through Feb. 1, 2012. The former Lake County circuit judge was hired in late June 2011 to examine the complaint filed by Linwood "Lennie" Jarratt of Round Lake Beach.
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Jarratt's accusations centered on emails he received from Freedom of Information Act requests that he contends showed illegal political activity by some District 46 employees and officials before the April 2011 school board election. State law prohibits public resources from being used for political activities.
In part, Superintendent Ellen Correll was accused of improperly using District 46's taxpayer-funded email system in an attempt to help Susan Facklam and Mary Garcia get re-elected. Garcia lost while Facklam retained her post.
At Wednesday's meeting, board President Ray Millington read a resolution stating the elected officials agreed it isn't necessary to take disciplinary action against any specific employee based on a report Tonigan issued to them about his investigation.
"However, the board finds that due to reported confusion concerning the terms and conditions of the ethics and gift ban policy," Millington added, "there is a need for specific training for all certified and noncertified staff, administrators and board members regarding said policy, as well as the board's expectations for compliance with said policy."
Millington said Correll will be responsible for coordinating the training for the staff, administration and board members. He also said the ethics complaints will be forwarded to the Lake County state's attorney's office "for any additional investigation that may be determined to be appropriate."
The contents of Tonigan's report were not made public at the District 46 board meeting.
Board member Susan Facklam said she agreed with the part of the resolution pertaining to the training, but questioned why prosecutors should be asked to review Jarratt's complaint.
"I just want it to be known I am not in agreement with sending this complaint to the state's attorney's office," Facklam said. "In my opinion, to approve this resolution is for us to imply that our staff named in the complaint engaged in wrongdoing. The complaint has been thoroughly investigated and not necessary to be further investigated by any other agency, including the state's attorney's office, in my opinion."
Tonigan charged $250 an hour for his probe. His itemized invoice, obtained through a Daily Herald Freedom of Information Act request, shed some light on the investigation.
Along with reading the emails in question, Tonigan met with Correll and Jarratt separately. Tonigan's interviews with unnamed witnesses at District 46's main office in Grayslake ran nearly 11 hours on Oct. 24 and 25 at a cost of $2,625.
Tonigan's bill showed that his report included findings on Correll and Facklam.
Board members Michael Carbone, Kip Evans, Keith Surroz, Shannon Smigielski and Millington voted in favor of the resolution regarding the ethics complaint lodged May 18, 2011. Facklam and board member Karen Weinert were the dissenters.
Ethics: Board member disagrees with sending complaint to state's attorney