Sunday, December 15, 2019
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Hinsdale board members may access school records

The Hinsdale Township High School District 86 Board is revising its policy on board members’ access to district documents, recordings, and buildings, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

The board voted 3-2 in November to accept a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed by board member Dianne Barrett against the former board president and district superintendent. The lawsuit claimed Ms Barrett was denied access to audio recordings of closed-session meetings that she was unable to attend. She also sued for the right to view documents related to the district’s special education services, documents the district considered confidential.

The new policy:

  • The board agrees that District 86 members have and retain the right to listen to closed session tapes, whether or not they attended that closed session.
  • All District 86 board members are entitled to unlimited access during school hours to documents necessary and relevant to board member’s exercise of official duties that are maintained by, or in possession of, District 86, including personnel and student records, with no requirement that any reason for the request be stated.
  • The member is entitled to enter and move about the property without being accompanied by District 86 staff.
  • All requests will be honored within a reasonable time, in no case to exceed five business days.
  • The member’s request shall be allowed forthwith unless, by a two-thirds vote, the board finds the request is abusive. An abuse of this right would be something like making voluminous requests that burden the district’s resources.

The changes could be voted on at the board April 21 meeting, but since Ms Barrett is no longer a board member, the changes will not apply to her, even though hers is the lawsuit that caused the board to change its policies.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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