District 300 School Board Defeats Conflict of Interest Policy

It must be the silly season.

The Huntley School District 158 Board of Education has decided to allow convicted felons bid on contracts like the hurry up, rush, rush one for snow removal.

And Carpentersville District 300’s board has decided that the appearance of conflict of interest is, well, no problem. You can find reports of the in the Daily Herald’s

and Northwest Herald’s

Only the two newly-elected board members John Ryan, sponsor of the proposal, and Monica Clark, his running mate, voted for the language that would prohibit companies who contributed $5,000 to district tax hike committees from doing business with the school district for two years.

Read some of the comments from Daily Herald reporter Jameel Naqvi’s article:

“’This type of policy is hampering the business of the district,’ (Mary) Warren said, noting that the district already has issues receiving enough bids. ‘I think this is absolutely unnecessary.’

“Roeckner agreed.

“’We have never had this problem in our district,’ (Karen) Roeckner said. ‘I will still vote no.’

“Board President Joe Stevens echoed Warren’s and Roeckner’s concerns earlier Monday.

“’It’s fine for vendors to contribute to referendum campaigns,’ Stevens said. ‘I have not seen any evidence of “pay-to-play.”‘”

The Northwest Herald’s David Fitzgerald picked these gems up:

“’We hold ourselves to high standards, and we maintain our credibility by our actions,’ board member Mary Warren said.

“She added that the district’s current bidding process worked well and that campaign contributions all were open to the public for scrutiny.”

Fitzgerald then notes,

“The longest-sitting board members – Warren, Karen Roeckner, Anne Miller and President Joe Stevens – voted against the policy Monday night.”

I guess all the vendor contributions printed in McHenry County Blog (the ones Warren points out are “all open to the public for scrutiny”) here and here and here are just coincidences.

Not even a wink, wink, nod, nod.

And there should be no concern even though this school superintendent says soliciting vendors is a way to raise tax hike campaign money.

It’s not a very high percentage of the money District 300 vendors receive.

But it certainly doesn’t look pure and clean like schools want taxpayers to believe they are.

It rather resembles Governor Rod Blagojevich campaign fund raising, doesn’t it?

Local dailies have pointed to the $5,000 that long-time school architect Burnidge Cassell Associates contributed at the official beginning of tax hike committee Advance 300’s campaign to hike taxes in 2006.

The Daily Herald even editorialized in favor of Ryan’s proposal.

So far, however, neither the Northwest nor the Daily Herald has picked up on District 300’s architect’s bragging about raising $100,000 for a district tax hike committees in letter dated February 25, 2005.

Here’s what was in the application for further work:

”Personally raising in the range of
$100,000 plus
for different referendum committees.”

Whether impropriety or just bad judgment on the part of the vendor was involved in that 2005 request for “Architect Services for Life Safety Reporting,” it certainly smells.

Two of the board members who did not vote for the policy—Miller and Chris Stanton—indicated they had questions about enforcement. I believe Miller is an attorney and, in any event, a district willing to spend money keeping a citizen advisory board member from getting information expeditiously ought to be willing to spend some figuring out how to enforce conflict of interest language.

Maybe when September comes, the board will get more serious about an issue that helped defeat Board President Mary Fioretti.

= = = = =
The top photo is of Carpentersville School District 300 Board member John Ryan. Underneath is a shot of board members Mary Warren and Karen Roeckner. Board President Joe Stevens is to their right.

Below Stevens is board member Anne Miller.

It must be the silly season.


District 300 School Board Defeats Conflict of Interest Policy — 30 Comments

  1. How many times does the Daily Herald need to put its position in writing before people take notice? It told us at the beginning of this fiasco to vote no on the referendum. A year later, everyone looks and feels dumbfounded about the significant tax increase. And then the Daily Herald offers its advice again and the idea is shot down? Sounds like these representatives don’t know what is best for the school district-fiscally, educationally, or community related.

  2. That is a pretty big stretch to assume that the Daily Herald staff is more qualified than the Board of Ed and Administration to make decisions regarding our district. The Daily Herald is famously anti-D300. So, if the Daily Herald and Cal’s blog are where you are getting your information, maybe you should dig a little deeper before you assume that there really is a “fiasco”.

  3. I’m not assuming that the Daily Herald staff is more qualified than the Board of Education, I know that they are. It is unacceptable for an educational district to do business with a company who helped push a propaganda campaign to gain a no-bid contract. I was also a student at one of the District 300 schools during the referendum push, which I strongly opposed. I was there to listen to students, teachers, and administration announce pro-referendum meetings during school time, use public funds to make vote yes posters, and even having public money used as an incentive for people to come to these illegal meetings. I know my information, my sources, and what actually happened during Advance 300s campaign. They should be penalized for deceiving the public the way they did.I And perhaps someone should not assume that District 300 and its cohorts know what is best, seeing as how they do not know how to manage their finances.

  4. Jared – are you the young man who took the t-shirts from your fellow Jacobs student, defaced them and then was featured here on Cal’s blog?

  5. No I am not; the students featured in the marked up, but still nonetheless hilarious, advance 300 shirts were juniors. I was a senior during the referendum, and if memory serves me right, those shirts were being given out. Something being offered for free cannot be stolen.

  6. You are correct Jared, it would be wrong for the district to award a contract to a company solely because they donated money to a referendum campaign Good thing that didn’t happen.

    Also, some of your information is questionable. For example, if you had wanted to hold an anti-referendum meeting during Flex, you could have had it mentioned during announcements. You might not have liked that the pro-groups did it, but it wasn’t illegal. Do you know for sure that supplies for signs weren’t given to these groups by A300? Like I said, you may want to dig a little deeper.
    As far as public money being given as an incentive, I don’t have any idea what you are talking about. Sounds like another stretch. Perhaps your “sources” haven’t shared with you the letter from the State’s Attorneys office saying that they did not find sufficient credible evidence to file any charges against D300 for any election activity. But since you believe that the Daily Herald staff is more qualified than the BoE and the Administration, you probably believe your “sources” over the State’s Attorney.

  7. Interesting. Tell us, how do you know who was featured in the photos since their faces weren’t shown? And as far as being stolen, I never said anything about stealing. Why would you say stolen?

  8. Nancy…attack,attack,attack! Use your lawyer, fine line lingo. It doesn’t matter if all the crap was beat into the students heads during flex or not, the kids were still there and heard it daily. You really think the whole school didn’t know who wore the t-shirts? Grow up! Let someone have an opinion, other than your’s, without nit picking and attacking every little and if or but.

  9. You know if you guys are going to attack others about these issues you’d better develop a much thicker skin. Its OK for you all to attack A300 and the District and even me personally but God forbid we fight back. And if everyone knew who wore the t-shirts, why don’t you tell us?

  10. Finally, why not go public with your allegations? If we were so sneeky and we were guilty of electioneering then why not go public? Come on – put your money where your mouth is. Come on Jared, give us the details on how students used “public funds to make vote yes posters, and even having public money used as an incentive for people to come to these illegal meetings”. You said that you have information and sources – let’s have it.

  11. With all due respect Nancy, the article which featured the picture from a year and a half ago had public comments explaining the students were juniors. I never claimed to know who the students were. If I did happen to know them, however, I wouldn’t disclose their identity. Obviously the student in the picture had it taken that way for his own privacy. I too would not want to have been a subject of scorn by the district and its administration. The information that I have is my own and the experience of several other students during the time of the referendum. My sources are my own two ears and two eyes; I saw and heard the school’s stance on the issue more than three times a day. I also saw students and heard of teachers bringing their students near the polling station to help spread the yes issue. Don’t get me wrong Nancy, it is a big issue. But seeing as how the funds have already been appropriated to building the schools, and it already having been spent, there’s not too much we can do about the past. However, the story of what happened should be told, so as to prevent the same mistakes that were allowed to happen. Regardless of when the inevitable next referendum is, it would be much more ethical to have a neutral, and balanced educational setting; not a building to promulgate the district’s ideas.

  12. Nancy – have you gotten the idea yet that there are several people out there with brains that you can’t just run over with your barrage of hate for anyone who doesnot agree with you? maybe you should listen more….

  13. Yes Jared, A wonderful recitation of rumor and hearsay. Yet, you won’t give us any specifics. Why is that?

    Mr. Nelson accuses me of not “listening”. I think that I do a pretty good job of listening -its just that none of you ever say anything of substance that you are willing to back up with hard facts.

    Why is that?

    You can’t be afraid of repercussions from the district, you’ve graduated, right? And you’re too young to have kids in the schools, right? So waht are you afraid of? The truth?

    If what you claim is really true then these teachers and adminisntrators should be made to account for their actions. You have a real chance to stop this alleged conduct, if it really happened.

    So one more time, a few questions:

    Exactly which teachers and administrators announced pro-referendum meetings during school?

    Exactly how were “public funds [used]to make vote yes posters”?

    Exactly how was “public money used as an incentive for people to come to these illegal meetings”?

    Please elaborate on your statement “I also saw students and heard of teachers bringing their students near the polling station to help spread the yes issue”. What teachers, students and poling places are you talking about?

    I’m listening!!!!

  14. Nancy – well you have done a nice job of deflecting this discussion. The issue here is not Jared ability to prove anything. The issue here is apperance of influence. You claim to be the protector of the districts image, slayer of all who hate the district. Yet you and your compatriots have yet to name anyway that this policy would negatively impact the district. You know well as a lawyer, that this policy as written does not limit FTN or A300 from getting donations and spending them to promote or challange referrendums or candidate. The donators would not be limited by the district because both organizations have more goals than that and donations would be categorized as general not specific to a campaign. So stop getting personal and being the pitbull and tell us where the negative is? A

  15. First off, do not confuse my experiences with rumor and hearsay. They are nowhere even near being related.

    Nelson didn’t accuse you of not listening; he suggested quite politely that you listen more. How you got any negative sentiment out of that is beyond me.

    I fear nothing of the District, Nancy. While I feel that holding the teachers and administration responsible would be a nice thing, prevention is what I seek. Like I said in my last post, I know that the referendum is over and done with. I do not want what happened last time to happen the next time District 300 needs the up the already exorbitant taxes. An school is meant for education, not for political indoctrination.

    In response to your questions:
    1)There were several teachers from several departments, including the Foreign Language, Computer Science, and History Departments who made pro-referendum speeches during school time. Seeing as how I know some of the teachers, I see it in their best interest to respect their privacy. It is not important of who did this, but the fact that it happened.
    2)Public funds were used to make vote yes posters by providing paper and markers. These materials were supplied by some teachers, and while I do realize that teachers do bring supplies from home, the majority of supplies are provided by the school district.
    3)On the day of the referendum vote, a Science teacher took her class down to the polling station. Around the polling station (entrance to HD Jacobs), students were wearing pro-referendum shirts and telling voters to “vote yes.” When I was passing by the polling stations during class changes, I could see this body of students along with aforementioned teacher.

    Again, out of respect for privacy and academic integrity, I will never release any teachers’ or students’ names. I believe that they should not be subject to the scrutiny of the district, regardless of the charge. I do not need to name who did something to know that it happened. I was there; saw it, heard it, even got the tshirt. The fact of the matter is this, Nancy: the district failed to provide a neutral education setting. This is something that cannot be compromised again. I owe it to the next group of students, seeing as how my group was let down. If you have the education and well-being of the students truly at heart, you should help to remove any political influence in their schools the next this issue comes up. Otherwise, a group of students will.

  16. How very nobel of you Jared – and convenient. You and I both know that you, like many others like you who feel it necessary to manufacture electioneering charges, won’t divulge details because they simply don’t exist.

    Falsely accusing people of illegalities and unethical behavior does nothing to help this district or any of its students. In fact it hurts.

    If YOU care about the district you will stop. If you have real evidence then you should have the courage to come forward.

    You say that you do not want to hurt any particular teacher and that you are protecting them from the district. But, if they were doing what you say they were, why would the district be angry? It makes no sense. And by manufacturing these allegations you cast a shadow over all the teacher and administrators.

    There are those in this district – including our host – who spend a great amount of time and money tearing this district down. The district knew that there were those people out there that were watching their every step during the referendum campagin. There was too much at stake to get caught doing something that could be construed as electioneering. It did not happen.

  17. Nancy – We do not tear down the district. No, infact we hold it to a higher standard. It is you with your reckless spend and tax approach that actually tears down the district. You weaken it to the point that you demand higher taxes. Your ideas of what should be next – vidoe TV links to other classrooms in other countries are examples of how freely you want to spend money. Yet the rest of us, as evidenced by the recent survey (you call it the strategic plan) want our kids better prepared for jobs or college, want equal cirriculm across the district and want non performing or lesser performing teachers weeded out of the district. Oh yeah, and we want it done within our means. That’s not tearing down the district. You know nancy, you remind me of Jack nicholsons character in a few good men – you just want us to shut up and be thankfull we have you. But frankly, we want better than what you want…real education within our means…

  18. Nancy – you are incredible. here’s one – a yes yes sign in the principals car parked in his reserved spot the entire month before the election… evidence of it, only those willing to say they saw it…

  19. How convenient of you to accuse me of being a liar. How convenient that you were not a student and thus were unable to see all the events during the school days during the referendum. How convenient to tell me what happened in my school in front of my own eyes and ears. You do not speak for me, so do not even try.

    Wrongly accusing someone of lying is also hurtful, Nancy, but as you said yourself “You know if you guys are going to attack others about these issues you’d better develop a much thicker skin.” Double standard, perhaps?

    I will not stop, Nancy. I cannot allow you to try and silence me by portraying me as the bad guy. I have given you evidence as per my testimony, but it seems that you cannot accept things that run contrary to your beliefs.

    Again, I will not disclose any student or teacher names. You just don’t seem to get the fact that I will not budge on this issue. I will not compromise the privacy of faculty or students, no matter how badly you try to badmouth me.

    Even though I disagree with what teachers and administration did during the referendum, I do not believe it is in the best interest of the district to try and go on a witch-hunt of who said what during the referendum. By the way, Nancy, teachers were technically not even allowed to discuss the subject of the referendum in the classroom during class time, but that happened in my math, foreign language, and history classes on repeated occasions.

    I have no desire to tear District 300 down. The only desire I have is for District 300 to be fiscally responsible and neutral. It’s quite hard to destroy something that’s already broken, as well.

    I remembered the Dundee Crown incident around St. Patrick’s Day as well, if you would like an example of electioneering. I am quite sure that there is a copy of the article online somewhere. Case in point, green ribbons were put on Dundee Crown’s campus during the referendum push. When questioned by an officer, a school official replied that it was “for St. Patrick’s Day” even though the green ribbons were tied up by pro-referendum volunteers, several days before St. Patrick’s Day. Maybe that’s just me, though, remembering relevant things. Then again, I could just be manufacturing lies with no clear reason as to why (seeing as how I would not benefit in any way other than the extreme pleasure of pointing out Nancy’s inaccuracies from a student’s point of view.)

  20. Yes Jared, it is much more noble to use insinuations and innuendo to smear people than actually use facts.

  21. Mr. Nelson – You really are amazing. First of all – BECAUSE of the referendum passing we are now doing all those things that you said you wanted done. Of course if you would come to a BOE meeting you would know that. Second, you have no clue what goes into funding this district. Again, volunteer to be on CFC and maybe you’ll learn something.

    Talking out your ear does nothing but make you look like a fool. And falsely accusing good people of doing bad things is not holding the district to a higher standard -its tearing it down.

    And finally, its my understanding that your patron saint of BS filed a compaint on all of your behalves with the Kane County State’s attorney’s office which was soundly rejected as “not credible”. Hmmmm – it that why you good folks refuse to give details — or your names?

  22. Jared – Ahhh, now it turns out that you “got” a t-shirt, after-all, huh? “If memory serves me…..”

  23. Jared – at the end of the day all you will have left is your integrity. At the end of the day you will have to look at yourself in the mirror.

    As far as a “neutral” – you didn’t want that, you wanted them to come out against the referendum. YOU could have done that. YOU could have asked for the opportunity in FLEX to give your side of the deabate. You could have held informational meetings too. But its easier to hide here on this blog and make false and unsupported accusations against others. The kids who did have meetings during FLEX had the courage of their convictions. You, did not.

  24. And, finally, I hope to GOD that the district is never “neutral” when it comes to our kids’ futures. I hope to GOD that they always, always advocate for our kids.

  25. Nancy – I am not sure who you think I am, but FYI – I go to BOE meetings! Further, I have training in accounting and government financing and am capable of reading a budget. So how dare you suggest I “have no clue what goes into funding this district.” Again your arrogance is incredible. Anyone who disagrees with you, you try to tear down and destroy. And don’t tell me that what I wanted was fixed by the refferendum. I did no want continued spending beyond income. I did not want flat screen tv’s in the lobby of the admin building. I did not want to pay to use a facility for graduation when we have an abundance of them in the district. I did not want to pass a bond issue for more buildings than we need (based on erroneous growth data. Again, what i want is an administration that can competently run a district in a fiscally responsible way. The problem is Nancy – we want better teachers, better cirriculum and an education that prepares our kids for the future – which as the survey indicates is not being done.Abd we want it done in a fiscally responsible way. You seem to be willing to settle for way less for some reason..

  26. Nancy – the fact that teachers encouraged and attended meetings at flex to push pro referendum info is as close to limits of the law as you can get. And, according to the students I have spoken with, anyone who disagreed with the position being delivered (along the line – you are going to loose so much if this doesn’t pass, and any one who votes against this is against you) was intimidated and accused of being against improving the school and ruining their high school years. But you don’t want to hear that Nancy. You have not wanted to hear that for 18 months. Frankly Nancy – we just want our educators to act not only the way the law says, but in the spirit of the law.

  27. but as you have said before Nancy – that’s all old news. As to the issue of this thread – can you tell me one thing that the policy Mr Ryan suggested would harm D300? It has been asked here and other places many times, and no one will answer…because there is no answer?

  28. What is incredible is the position purported here that developers and vendors would somehow be at a disadvantage to such scurrilous daemons such as Jack Roeser and FTN. That the forces of right and good, using the no strings attached donations of conscientious vendors and builders of pure heart, would somehow be at a disadvantage to those uncouth, ill-bred and evil anti children and progress type. Well that argument and all it’s sub arguments is so far from the heart of this. Truth is, this is the defenders of the status quo see this as a power struggle. A300 and some of the school board members who voted this policy down like the control they have been able to exert over the district and fear losing some of that control. The mere fact that that home schooling lackey of Jack Roeser’s even made it on the board has them concerned. Therefore – there is no pay to play, this policy is an insult to the district and, and, and ‘… I guess they can’t say the real reason they oppose it – because they oppose Ryan and all he stands for. Well, what does Ryan represent? Yes he probably represents Jack Roeser and FTN and will behave that way. But he also represents way more than that, because for all the money Jack can throw at D300 political campaigns, he can’t vote. And even if he could force his will on his employees, they don’t represent enough of the population to have caused this. What Ryan’s represents, even though he may not know it or act like it, and the reason he got elected is that 48% of the voters did not agree with the referendum, and a majority of the voters did not like the policies of the president of the board. That is a reality the A300 faction and the members on the board that align with them don’t like. Just listen to Nancy constantly telling us how lucky we are and how wrong we are. And what’s worse, while all this goes on, the district keeps doing the same thing over again, massive spending increases that drive spending beyond income. The real questions is – will the majority catch on before the next election, and will the 48% stay upset enough with the way the district is being run to continue to change it? Another question is, why if there is no pay to play, are these folks so opposed to this policy?

  29. At the end of the day, Nancy, I can look into the mirror and say to myself that I fought against rampant fiscal spending. The area in which we live has some of the highest taxes in the nation. The money which is poured into the district is incredible in comparison to the rest of the nation. Yet, I (and many others) feel that we have not gotten the bang for our buck. We want better schools, better teachers, and emphasis on college and beyond. The implementation of this, however, seems a challenge. The students that are being prepared to go to college are not being taught the critical skills they need. As far as neutral, I never claimed to be such. I am anti-referendum and in favor of fiscal conservation. What I was speaking about in regards to neutrality was the fact that the school should provide a neutral setting. Do not try and twist my words.

    I hope that the next time the tax increase comes around, the district will know its place as a neutral governmental entity, subject to the scrutiny of the taxpayers’ eye.

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