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updated: 3/25/2013 9:00 PM

District 15 board member admits he was wrong to forward confidential email

Bokor admits he was wrong to forward Dist. 15 correspondence

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  • Richard Bokor

      Richard Bokor

 

Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board member Richard Bokor said Monday that passing along confidential email correspondence last month to a former board member was a lapse in judgment.

However, Bokor said he wouldn't have sought the advice of Gerald Chapman, who served as superintendent of Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 for 11 years, had board members been better informed.

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"Was I wrong? Yes," Bokor said. "Was I seeking counsel on a decision that affects many people where I didn't understand what was going on? Yes."

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by District 15 parent Vicki Wilson show Bokor forwarded an email to Chapman on Feb. 15. The thread -- which features the subject line "Contract Issue" -- started with a message from board attorney Mike Loizzi that the district redacted. It also included board President Tim Millar's subsequent email that an upcoming special meeting would include an agenda item to reject transportation bids.

The district has been exploring outsourcing busing while also negotiating a new contract with the transportation union. The process has been contentious, and both sides have gone public with information typically kept private.

Millar, who like Wilson has publicly endorsed District 15 board candidates Donna Johnson, Matt Lyons and Jennifer Zold over Bokor's bid for a second term, said Bokor's action constituted an ethics violation that broke attorney-client privilege. He said the attorney's message related to current or pending litigation.

The board likely will discuss the "disappointing" issue in closed session, Millar said, but he doubts any punitive measures will be taken.

"A censure is really the only option a board has, and I don't think that accomplishes anything other than publicly embarrassing someone," he said.

Wilson's FOIA request sought emails about transportation to and from both Bokor and board member Peggy Babcock between Jan. 1 and Feb. 27. Wilson said she targeted only those two board members because they've supported issues "that betrayed the community's trust," such as the district's attempt to borrow $27 million in 2010.

The 143 pages of emails she received also show Bokor forwarded a few other emails to or from his personal email. In one, he writes: "Thought you would find (portion redacted) interesting."

Bokor said he regularly forwards emails to his personal account because they're easier to access and read on his iPhone.

He also said he values the expertise of Chapman, who has been through multiple bidding processes.

Bokor said he was frustrated by the lack of explanation about why transportation bids presented by officials as "gospel truth" at a board meeting just 36 hours earlier were going to be rejected.

"No, I would not do it again," Bokor said. "But I would seek counsel. I don't think the board is really getting an honest answer as to what's going on.

"There are a lot of unanswered questions."

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