Is asking three Grayslake school board members and Superintendent Ellen Correll to review and discuss allegations against themselves like asking the fox to guard the henhouse?
That’s the question board members Michael Carbone and Shannon Smigielski asked at last week’s board meeting and which led to Tuesday's Special board meeting.
Board member Sue Facklam has been accused of giving gift cards to 18 years to encourage them to vote. Fellow board members Karen Weinert and Ray Millington are implicated on separate issues in a series of e-mails recently released in a FOIA request.
The meeting was also held to discuss why an outside mediator was hired by the district to review the charges of school code violations and unethical behavior that stemmed from the recent school board elections. The same mediator is also assessing the charges made against Correll.
"There is a uniform grievance procedure with two complaint managers for matters such as these," said District 46 attorney Kevin Gordon. "One manager is Ellen and the other was the district's former business manager. Because it would not be appropriate for Ellen to manage, the regulation is that another qualified complaint manager be hired."
That complaint manager is Richard Mittelman, an attorney from Libertyville with 25 years of experience and no ties to the Grayslake community or school district, according to Gordon.
The charges have also been filed with the Lake County State's Attorney's office. Board member Carbone had asked last week why the district had not let the State's Attorney's office handle it without hiring a mediator at $250 per hour.
"The board has an obligation to investigate the charges on their own, even if the state is involved," said Gordon. "The policy reads 'If the board determines that the violations are also against the law it can refer them to the State's attorney.'"
Newly selected board president Ray Millington said that he had spoken to Lake County State's Attorney Mike Waller.
"He said it is not in their jurisdiction to handle ethics complaints," Millington said.
On Tuesday, Chief Deputy State's Attorney Dan Jasica told Patch, "We are still reviewing the paperwork. Should we choose to investigate we will then determine if further action is warranted. District 46 has its own governing board at the local government level and this may end up being handled as a local ethics ordinance violation."
"Then should we discuss the charges as a board tonight?" said Keith Surroz, vice president of the D46 school board.
“Typically that kind of discussion would be done in closed session," Gordon said.
After a brief discussion, the board moved into closed session to review the charges.
In contrast to last week's raucous board meeting, a lone community member chose to speak out at Tuesday's sparsely attended meeting.
"While I believe in anyone's right to civil discourse, there is a moral and dignified way to do that," said Grayslake resident and D46 parent David Shriberg. "The low road was taken last week and it reflected very poorly on our community. I believe in holding the administration accountable, but I also believe we need to hold each other accountable for our own behavior. If you value education, people from all perspectives need to step up and say "stop" to the heckling and shouting and stand up for the value of public discussion."
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 18 at Meadowview School.