District 15 board still at odds despite report clearing president

Updated 1/13/2011 12:24 AM

Despite an attorney's 15-page report concluding that the Palatine Township Elementary District 15 board president didn't tamper with a draft of meeting minutes, officials still disagree the role he should play in preparing them.

The school board Wednesday by a 4-2 vote shot down a proposal that would have barred board President Gerald Chapman from advising on or revising meeting minutes in advance of the board receiving them. They also rejected a proposal requiring all motions be recorded as they are spoken.

"Do you want to be the kind of board that condones the routine altering of the minutes by the board president before you've seen them ... or do you want to be a board that takes the high and ethical road and demands the president not change the minutes to suit his purposes," board member Sue Quinn said before the vote, urging her peers to limit Chapman's authority.

Quinn, who says Chapman acted unethically by attempting to change the wording of her March 2010 motion related to a proposed bond issue, expressed her disappointment in board attorney Mike Loizzi's report, adding she was shocked to learn the president "routinely alters" the meeting minutes when they're in draft form.

But Loizzi's report, which the board unanimously approved to release, states District 15's process of including the board secretary, president and superintendent to prepare, review and edit draft minutes is consistent with relevant laws, school board policy and past practices.

The review is designed to reduce the number of future corrections and is a generally acceptable practice in most other school districts, the report states.

Loizzi concludes Quinn's exact wording should have been used, but goes on to say he believes that would have occurred had Quinn noticed the error the following month and moved to correct it. She didn't realize the different wording until months later when a Freedom of Information Act request revealed a lengthy e-mail exchange on the issue.

The report also dismissed Quinn's allegation of tampering. During the legal firm's interviews, all but Quinn and board member Tim Millar said they genuinely believed Chapman's efforts "were made in good faith, and only designed to clarify."

The whole situation, according to the report, isn't an indication of problems with the meeting preparation process or wrongdoing on anyone's part, but rather "differing opinions" among board members.