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updated: 3/16/2017 11:15 AM

Glen Ellyn school officials, referendum campaign under fire after email release

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  • Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner approaches the dais to deliver his budget address in February. The state has gone without a full-year budget since July 2015.

    Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner approaches the dais to deliver his budget address in February. The state has gone without a full-year budget since July 2015.
    Associated Press Photo

 
 
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Paul Gordon's name.

Outcry over the release of hundreds of parents' email addresses has prompted Glen Ellyn School District 41 and a group pushing for the passage of a $24 million referendum to promise to act more cautiously in the future.

Jodi Herbold, one of the leaders of 41 Forward for Kids, tells me she sent a Freedom of Information Act request to District 41 seeking contact information of parents she'd heard would be interested in campaigning for the referendum, which would raise taxes to pay for improvements at Hadley Junior High and the four elementary schools.

Instead of releasing the email addresses for the 17 names the group was looking for, Superintendent Paul Gordon says the district supplied email addresses of all parents who had not specifically opted out of having their information shared. It would be easier, officials believed, not to redact hundreds of names.

Glen Ellyn School District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon
Glen Ellyn School District 41 Superintendent Paul Gordon - Daily Herald File Photo

The district's policy stipulates that unless instructed otherwise, the district can "release general directory information which may include student name, address, gender, parent telephone number (and) email."

Attorney Don Craven, an expert on the Freedom of Information Act, says release of the names is legal but "unusual. I can certainly understand why parents are upset that an email address used for emergency situations got released for political purposes."

'Slippery slope'

Some parents complained after 41 Forward sent an email blast in February to all the email addresses it obtained. "I'm shocked that any group would ask for this and even more shocked that it would be released," parent Melissa Creech wrote on the District 41 Parents' Facebook page.

In the future, district officials say they will redact addresses that aren't specifically requested. And 41 Forward for Kids says it won't send any more email blasts before the April 4 election.

But Craven says the situation has opened a door. "They're going to have a hard time redrawing that line," he said of the district, when it comes to future FOIAs.

Diversions

Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner of Winnetka has been feeling the heat for his role in the recent demise of a compromise budget crafted by leaders of the Illinois Senate, with Rauner saying more work is needed "to achieve a good deal for taxpayers."

In an email to supporters, Rauner didn't mention the nearly two-year budget impasse but instead asked them to prioritize "what our state really needs" from a list of his top issues, including term limits, a property tax freeze, reforming pensions and "protecting taxpayers."

"We've never relied on career politicians to tell us what our state needs; that responsibility lies with the people," Rauner said in the campaign email.

Meanwhile, analysts from Standard & Poor's said this week that the state is approaching "service level insolvency" where government can no longer provide day-to-day services.

Armands owner Mike Carignella of Prospect Heights shared this photo of Francis Ford Coppola, who stopped by the pizzeria Saturday after a tasting of a line of wines in Chicago.
Armands owner Mike Carignella of Prospect Heights shared this photo of Francis Ford Coppola, who stopped by the pizzeria Saturday after a tasting of a line of wines in Chicago. - Photo Courtesy Mike Carignella
Surprise visit

Armand's Pizzeria owner Mike Carignella of Prospect Heights shared a snap of Francis Ford Coppola enjoying dinner Saturday at the restaurant's Chicago location. Coppola, shown here clearly enjoying a variety of pizzas, pastas and wines on the menu, had been in town for a tasting for his line of Coppola wines. Carignella said Coppola told staff and family members he was staying at Star Wars' creator George Lucas' condo on Michigan Avenue for the weekend.

Coming into his own

Sandra Brunson, mom of Adlai E. Stevenson High School grad Jalen Brunson, tells me she's watched her son, a sophomore on Villanova's men's basketball team, "come into a role that's natural to him."

Villanova's Jalen Brunson, center, is a 2015 graduate of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.
Villanova's Jalen Brunson, center, is a 2015 graduate of Adlai E. Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire. - Associated Press Photo

Brunson, who's been averaging 15 points a game this season, "has grown into the adjustments of his role, what he was recruited to do. ... He's very patient, he's very observant, he's a team player."

'Nova (which happens to be my own alma mater) is a number one seed in this year's NCAA tournament after winning last year's championship with a last-second shot against North Carolina. The Cats take on Mount St. Mary's New Orleans at 6:10 p.m. today in Buffalo, New York. I'll be watching, using a strategy to quell my nerves -- running on the treadmill for the game's first half and enjoying a beer the second. Catch the game on CBS 2.

Meanwhile, the Northwestern alums in our newsroom are cheering on the school's first tournament appearance, ever.

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