Prosecutors asked to examine former Grayslake D46 board leader's emails
Cook County prosecutors have been asked to investigate whether Grayslake Elementary District 46's former board president engaged in prohibited political activities on an email system at the school where she's a teacher.
Mary Garcia was District 46's board chief until she lost her seat in the April 5 election.
At issue now is the use of her email at Northbrook/Glenview Elementary District 30 during her re-election campaign. State law prohibits public resources from being used for political activities.
District 30 Superintendent Edward Tivador wrote a letter to the Cook County state's attorney's office May 20 referring a completed internal investigation of Garcia. The case was triggered by a complaint filed by Lake County tea party founder Lennie Jarratt of Round Lake Beach.
District 30 released the letter to the Daily Herald this week.
"District 30 conducted a thorough investigation of the complaint and has concluded that Ms. Garcia may have committed (seven) violations while on compensated time and/or using the District 30 email system," Tivador wrote to Cook County prosecutors.
Garcia, who was sent a copy of the District 30 letter, has not returned messages seeking comment. Tivador said he couldn't discuss a personnel matter.
Jarratt lodged the complaint in March, accusing Garcia of violating the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act and District 30's policy implementing it. One of Jarratt's attachments was purported to be a campaign-related email Garcia sent from her District 30 account to a state senator.
Tivador, in his letter to Assistant State's Attorney Karyn Stratton, said District 30's investigation concluded Garcia may have committed violations that include:
•Soliciting contributions, including but not limited to the purchase of, selling, distributing or receiving payment for any political fundraiser, meeting or event.
•Preparing or reviewing responses to candidate questionnaires in connection with a campaign of an elected office or on behalf of a political organization for political purposes.
•Campaigning for an elected office or for or against any referendum question.
Jarratt received more than 300 pages of emails generated from Garcia's District 30 account from Feb. 1 to March 14, which he contends show a pattern of political activity. He obtained the emails through open-records requests with District 30.
"I kind of expected it to be swept under the rug," Jarratt said after learning of District 30's decision to refer the Garcia complaint to prosecutors. "It seems to me there was a lot more there than we know."
At District 46, officials said this week an independent investigator there found Garcia and two other officials didn't engage in prohibited political activities before the April 5 election. One of the complaints that led to the District 46 internal probe was filed by new board member Shannon Smigielski before she was elected.
Garcia and fellow incumbent Susan Facklam were challenged in the April election by political newcomers Smigielski, Kip Evans and Marchell Norris. Smigielski, Evans and Facklam won the three available seats.
Tandra Simonton, a Cook County state's attorney spokeswoman, declined to acknowledge receipt of District 30's referral on the Garcia case.