District 118 officials won't say why student's family got $22,500 settlement
Wauconda Unit School District 118 officials won't say why they've approved payments totaling $22,500 to a student's family as part of a settlement approved by the school board at a special meeting May 2.
They also won't say why special training for Wauconda High School employees is part of the settlement, and they wouldn't identify the topic of the training.
The school board approved the deal after a closed-door discussion on a matter "related to an individual student," the agenda for the May 2 meeting states.
This week, District 118 officials sent the Daily Herald a heavily redacted, electronic copy of the eight-page agreement in response to a request filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Sections identifying the student, the student's parent, the nature of the parent's complaint and many other details were blacked out.
Julia Nadler, the district's assistant superintendent of special services and its Freedom of Information Act officer, was tasked with responding to the Daily Herald's request. In a letter accompanying the document, she said the agreement was redacted to protect personal information, student records and "unique identifiers."
The Daily Herald also requested minutes of the public and private portions of the May 2 meeting, but they were not delivered. The minutes from the public portion have not been finalized or approved by the board, officials said, and the minutes from the closed-door discussion are exempt from inspection until they're made public.
Nadler refused to answer subsequent questions about the case and the settlement.
"I am not at liberty to comment about any matters involving students of the district," she said.
Superintendent Daniel Coles couldn't be reached for comment.
District 118 board members declined to comment about the case. Former board President Jonathan Feryance, who left office in April but is familiar with the case, also was mum.
"I can't say anything out of respect for the family," Feryance said.
According to the settlement document, the district was to make a one-time payment of $12,500 within 15 days of the agreement's approval. The student's parent also was to receive a payment of $10,000 to go toward an expense that was redacted.
Although the names of the recipients were blacked out, district officials said only family members were set to receive payments.
The district also agreed to provide training to Wauconda High staff members on professionalism concerning communications with and about a subject that was redacted. The settlement included language concerning the duties of a specific teacher and another employee, but the details were blacked out.
Wauconda High Principal Dan Klett couldn't be reached for comment.
The settlement does not represent an admission of wrongdoing by the district, according to the agreement.
The Daily Herald has asked the Illinois attorney general's office to review the censored document and compel the district to release more information.