Illinois Attorney General slams District 103 Open Meetings Act Violation
The Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled that Lyons School District 103 violated the Illinois Open Meetings Act when it refused to permit parents to address the board’s decision to hire as a 6th grade teacher a man accused of attempted murder and seven counts of felony assault. The meeting took place on Oct. 22, 2019 but board Chairman Marge Hubacek block parents from speaking, allowing only five to address the board’s action
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled last week that Lyons School District 103 board members violated the state’s Open Meetings Act when they cut off public comment after 15 minutes at a heated meeting in October.
Madigan issued an opinion on Jan. 9 that the board “violated (the Open Meetings Act) during its Oct. 22, 2018, meeting by enforcing an unestablished and unrecorded rule limiting the public comment portion of the meeting to 15 minutes.”
The decision was sent to both Board President Marge Hubacek and Hinsdale attorney Martin Stack, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office after the meeting.
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In her ruling, Madigan directed the school board “to take appropriate action to comply with this opinion by refraining from applying unestablished and unrecorded rules to restrict public comment at future meetings and by otherwise conducting its future meetings in full compliance with (the Open Meetings Act).”
01-09-19 Il Atty General slams Hubacek District 103 OMA violation
About 200 parents and local officials attended the Oct. 22 board meeting to demand answers about the hiring of Andres Rodriguez to teach sixth-grade English. It was later discovered that Rodriguez had been fired from two other school districts after he was charged with attempted murder after shooting a man seven times during a traffic dispute in Tinley Park.
The district suspended Rodriguez once the charges became known. He was fired last month.
Interim Supt. Patrick Patt said it took two months for the board to fire Rodriguez because “we had to go through the proper procedures, the protocol. We did what we had to do.”
Critics of the hiring claimed Rodriguez was hired over five other potential candidates despite widely known information that he was facing felony attempted murder charges.
Critics of the hiring said Hubacek and her supporters ridiculed them during the meeting and closed the public discussion period after only 15 minutes. Only five people were allowed to speak and she turned away dozens of parents who wanted to ask questions about the Rodriguez hiring.
One of those who tried to speak was McCook Mayor and Cook County Board Commissioner Jeff Tobolski. Hubacek denied him access to the microphone and closed the topic.
“If she prevented an elected representative of hundreds of thousands of people from speaking, how does she treat the parents in the district? Does she even listen to them? Does she care about them? Parents should be concerned. I was concerned and that is why the complaint was filed,” Stack said after the Attorney General’s decision was released.
“Chairman Hubacek broke the law when she stopped the public from addressing the board and the Illinois Attorney General’s office agreed. People should be free to express their opinion at board meetings and not be subjected to the whims of petty tyrants. In this case, the board majority thought they could keep a gunman’s hiring as a teacher a secret. After that information became public, Hubacek was visibly upset at the meeting and resorted to laughter and mockery as parents addressed the board.”
School District 103 board member Jorge Torres, who opposed Hubacek’s decision and raised the issue about Rodriguez’s hiring, repeated his demand that Hubacek resign from the board adding that the board should immediately reconvene a new meeting to allow parents to speak.
“Marge Hubacek has abused her powers since taking over the board. She has politicized the board’s actions and pushed aside the interests of the students and their parents,” said Torres.
“The board should immediately reschedule the meeting and allow all of the parents of students who attend District 103 schools the opportunity to ask questions. Hubacek has tried to brush this controversy under the rug without answering questions including many concerns that Rodriguez was hired because he knows someone on the board.”
Calls for Hubacek to resign were made at a news conference held by Tobolski, Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty and state Sen. Martin Sandoval. Sandoval is sponsoring legislation that would require anyone hired by any school district in the state of Illinois who is involved in a felony criminal case to disclose those facts when applying for any school employment position.
“There needs to be consequences for Hubacek’s actions,” said Torres, who is heading a slate of candidates seeking to oust Hubacek in the April 2 consolidated election.
Torres’ running mates include Olivia Quintero, Winifred Rodriguez and Vito Campanile who are running on the Parents for Student Excellence slate.
Hubacek has said she has no intention to resign.
“I understand their emotions, but I was elected by the people. I wasn’t elected by the grandstanders,” she said after the October meeting.
Stay up-to-date on issues and news at Lyons School DIstrict 103 by liking the Parents for Student Excellence Facebook Page. Click this link to go to the Parents for Student Excellence Facebook Page.
This article was published in the Des Plaines Valley News newspaper on Jan. 17, 2019. Republished with permission.
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