Was Special Ed Attorney Hired Without Prior Huntley School Board Approval?

Someone in Huntley School District 158 hired an attorney specializing in Special Ed in July.

I didn’t see any board vote on the issue. Did you?

At the Special Ed Parents Advisory meeting last night, attorney Teri Engler from the law firm Sraga Houser, LLC., announced she was hired in July.

Normally you might hear such an announcement at a board meeting. There was nothing said about it at the August board meeting. Try finding the hiring of a law firm on a board agenda in recent months.

Board Policy 2.160 states;

“The Board of Education may enter into an agreement for legal services with a specific attorney or law firm.”

Maybe there us a way around that which was exercised.

This makes three law firms getting taxpayers money from the Huntley School District.

Agreements or contracts which require votes have to be voted on in open, public session.

Try finding a retainer agreement in the district’s board packets. I couldn’t find it. Looks like I will have to file a Freedom of Information request.

Wouldn’t you think a law firm, in this case Sraga Hauser LLC with an office in Oak Brook, would want its hiring to be done by following board policy and the Open Meetings Act?

There was no announcement about the new attorney made by the district’s Special Ed Director in any of the public meetings in August, including the August Parents Advisory Committee meeting.

Attorney Engler made an hour-long presentation on the fifteen chapters of a Illinois State Board of Education handout titled, “Educational Rights and Responsibilities.”

She had gotten through the first three chapters when her one-hour of interaction was closed out by a District 158 administrator. 

Chapter 11 is “Conflict Resolution.”

Someone should have suggested she could have started there.

Huntley’s Special Ed director interrupted at least once to explain how the district was doing things the right way.

This was after parents pointed out compliance deficiencies.

I wish I could have captured a snapshot of the lawyer’s face when one parent explained to attorney Engler that the curriculum director, Dr. Mary Olson, had publicly told parents,

“Some kids will never be readers.”

As you can probably guess, that statement may be less than top-shelf consistent with the spirit and legal obligation of the district to provide a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE).

Attorney Engler agreed with a parent that having a sixth grade student help her child was not a ‘Response to Intervention” (RtI). The district actually needs to provide someone who is educationally qualified to help the student.

You might think something like this is common sense obvious and parents wouldn’t have to argue about it in order to get it corrected by their school district.

There were no less than 16 paid teachers, certified specialists and administrators attending, plus attorney Engler at the meeting.

Why so many paid staff?

Any consensus decisions are decided by majority vote and the district apparently wants a substantial vote count just in case.

School Board member Aileen Seedorf was the only board member who took the time to attend. Superintendent John Burkey and other board members were otherwise occupied.


Comments

Was Special Ed Attorney Hired Without Prior Huntley School Board Approval? — 7 Comments

  1. Cal, pointing out Dr. Olson's comment shows your own ignorance and the involved parents' narrow view of the scope of children with special needs.

    There are a host of conditions from which children suffer. These poor children are locked in persistant vegetative states. Are you familiar with the term "severe and profound"?

    Perhaps you and the these parents need to look at the entire population before you assault Dr. Olson and quote her out of context!

  2. Dr. Olson was referring to students in D-158's classrooms, not at specialized care facilities such as SEDOM.

    These children are not in persistent vegetative states.

    Please reflect upon the sensitivity your use of the word "vegetative" has. While state representative for 16 years I death with this problem and never heard anyone use such terminology.

    The lawyer for the District didn't attempt to defend the comment. I imagine she would have, if your comment applied.

  3. Here was another one-sided article published by Cal. It's a shame that these articles continue to be articulated through repeat District 158attendees, with old, repetetive complaints about everything that goes on at District 158. Isn't there another place where the "old timers" can hang out and complain, besides at district meetings and with you? Baaah humbug!

  4. I wonder if defenders of the way Special Ed is delivered in Huntley would go so far as to defend the principal who did not attend a student's Individual Improvement Plan, but asked the teacher who did to affirm in writing that he/she did so.

  5. From the IASB website: Foundational Principles of Effective Governance- 2. The Board Connects With the Community.
    (Helping the board member who helped Cal write his article today.)From the IASB website http://www.iasb.com/principles.cfm
    The School Board must be aggressive in reaching out to the community – the district’s owners -to engage people in conversations about education and the public good. And- A Board in touch with community-wide concerns and values will serve the broad public good rather than being overly influenced by special interests.

  6. You want to watch out for Ms. Engler. Her specialty is intimidating parents and assisting districts in wiggling out of providing FAPE in LRE. She’s *very* good at it.

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