19 apply for seat on Glen Ellyn District 41 school board

 
 
Updated 5/31/2016 6:11 PM
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Glen Ellyn Elementary District 41 has released the names of 19 people who have applied to fill a vacant seat on the school board.

The district made public the list of candidates Tuesday under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Daily Herald.

The 19 vying to secure a one-year appointment to the board are: Jeff Cooper, Jerry Drabik, Marcus Wargin, Lisa Brennan, Brian Smith, Amy Watroba, Nicole Resnick Ross, Robert Wahlman, Bruce Currie, Robert Bruno, Angela Fanella, Mike Carlson, Kevin Rath, Benson Chan, Jason Loebach, Scott Bots, Kathleen Meier, Kristin Massey and William DiFabio.

The Daily Herald previously sought the names after the deadline to apply for the board seat expired on May 20, but was told by a district spokeswoman to submit a public records request. The school board's attorney at Franczek Radelet, a Chicago law firm, also had recommended the newspaper file a FOIA request -- granted Tuesday afternoon.

When asked why, board President Erica Nelson said "it's really kind of a courtesy" for the applicants and to "provide a heads-up" that a request had been made for their information.

On May 25 -- two days after the Daily Herald submitted the request -- Nancy Mogk, executive assistant to Superintendent Paul Gordon, sent an email to the 19, thanking them for their interest in the position and scheduling interviews expected to last 15 minutes with the remaining board members.

That letter was verbatim to one sent to applicants the last time there was a vacancy on the board in 2014 -- except for one paragraph:

"Please be advised we have received a request for your name and application through the Freedom of Information Act process," Mogk wrote in the email. "We are required to comply with this request; we will, however, withhold personal information (i.e., address, phone numbers, etc). If you have any concerns, please contact me by 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26."

Nelson said several of the candidates contacted the district to ask "general questions" about that process.

"The board was not informed in advance that we were going to require persons interested in the names of applicants to FOIA that information," board member Stephanie Clark said. "I was surprised to hear that we did that, and I don't fully understand why, when just two years when I applied for a board vacancy, the names were released without a FOIA, and I was not informed as a candidate that my name was being asked for either."

On May 3, Dean Elger announced he will step down at the end of the board meeting June 13, because he is moving to Utah. The other six members have until June 17, or 45 days from Elger's written resignation, to name his successor.

But the board expects to make its pick at its June 13 meeting. Elger has said he will have no role in reviewing candidates interested in the seat.

The board will hold closed-door interviews with the hopefuls Wednesday night. Members will first go into open session and take public comment at 6 p.m. in the district's offices, 793 N. Main St. Another round of interviews are set for June 6.

There are some familiar names among the 19 contenders. Rath ran as part of a slate with current board members Kurt Buchholz and Clark in the April 2015 election. Cooper and Massey also were candidates in the seven-way race at the time. DiFabio is a former board member.

The new member will serve until April 2017, when four seats will be up for election.

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