Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses. Sorry Dr. White, We are not buying them, although it appears Giltner and Turek have.

Yesterday the Bond Referendum Accountability Committee held it's third meeting to decide what should go into its final report.  We were unable to attend in person, but have now listened to the podcast of the meeting.  It is posted on the D181 website in 2 parts.    Below are the links that we encourage you to listen to.

9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 1
9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 2

In addition, here is the link to the news article published in the Hinsdale Doings.  It provides a good summary of the meeting:  9/26/17 Doings Article.  As you read the rest of our post, please keep in mind what Board President Burns told the reporter following the meeting:  

"What I didn't hear was him was him was accepting responsiblity for the error," Burns said Tuesday morning, after White read a statement at a Monday meeting of the district's Board Referendum Review and Accountability Committee.  "I believe the biggest issue is that even when all of this came to light, there was no disclosure to the board," Burns said.  "There's a difference between a legal responsbility and a fiduiary responsibility, and I don't believe Dr. White fulfilled his fiduciary responsibility because there wasn't disclosure to the board."  (Source:  9/26/17 Doings Article written by Chuck Fieldman.)

So what exactly did Dr. White say during the meeting?  In the interest of full transparency, we have transcribed most of the 8 minute statement he made at the beginning of the Accountability Committee meeting.  For those of you who want to listen to his full statement, it begins at Counter 01:00 and goes to 09:00 at the following link:  9/25/17 Bond Accountability Committee Meeting Podcast Part 1.

Following the transcription, we will first book end Dr. White's statement with one made by Committee Member Meeta Patel at the conclusion of the meeting. Next we will provide OUR opinions on Dr. White's various representations and excuses made in connection with his failure to follow the instructions given to him in the August 19, 2016 letter from the Board's attorney, Hauser Izzo.   (Link to letter: Click and go to P.24 of the 8/9/2017 Summary: Legal Notice and Related Procedures

Finally, we will report on the actions taken by the full Board of Education during their regular business meeting last night, which in our opinion, establish that two board members, Richard Giltner and Marty Turek, have lost sight of their fiduciary obligations to the District.

Dr. White's 9/25/17 Statement to the Accountability Committee:

For the first 1 minute and 38 seconds, Dr. White thanked the Committee members for their service.  The substance of his statement begins at Counter 01:38 at which point he states:

"My statement this evening is not intended to be a point by point response to information found on Board Docs, nor is it intended to be a thorough response to the conclusions being drawn by members of this committee. Frankly, that activity would take much more time than we have this evening and would also need to include others.  In addition, I am trying to do my best to participate in a way that is productive so that we can fulfill what I thought was at the core of the work of this committee, that being to reflect on the past and develop recommendations for the future.

I would also like to add that I am not trying to be defiant in this response but I feel the need to at least express my point of view regarding the draft conclusions that are being discussed.  Next I would like to share that i do not believe it is the district's responsibility to monitor the work of outside entities, however, I am not attempting to minimize the importance of this situation and process for out district.  Nor am I attempting to diminish my responsibility for making sure that we do our best to learn from the past and make warranted improvements.

In a perfect world, the work of this committee would not have been necessary, however, we do not live in a perfect world.  

Sunday, September 24, 2017

The BOE is Not Responsible for Dr. White's "Mistake."

Earlier this evening we received a comment that is so powerful, it must stand alone.
Anonymous said...
I had a recent conversation with a neighbor-a Hinsdale tax payer-who supported Don White. The conversation centered around the fact that she felt no one person should take the "fall" for the mistakes made and that Dr White is not alone in his responsibility for having missed the notice period and not admitting his fault. She cited the previous BOE as well.

My response to this was to be angry but then after careful thought, here is what it comes down to--

BOE is made up of elected officials who serve at the pleasure of the tax payer and who draw no salary, benefits or any other type of privilege or compensation. It is the highest volunteer role of our school district. While I believe our previous BOE could have spent more time following up and reviewing documents before we went down this rabbit hole, the bottom line is-Dr. White serves at the pleasure of our district and yet he is a PAID official who draws not only a commanding salary and benefits but is the leader and figure head of our district. He is supposed to be a beacon of fairness, truth, leadership and trust for our district.

He is supposed to be someone to whom students, teachers, faculty, tax payers, and community members can look to for direction and guidance on all issues that relate to our schools and our district as a whole.

This latest lack of attention to detail, untruth, and frankly abuse of power is just one failure. What about when last year he released our children's date of births; personal records; etc by releasing directory information? What about the fact that he is at the helm of a department that has pretty much all quit and vacated? When corporate culture is suffering, look to the top--the tone is set by the "top dog".

What about the fact that we have lost time, tax payer dollars, drawn our focus away from curriculum and instruction, lost staff, and now have been suffering from legal fees all attributed to what is understandably a mistake, but a costly mistake?

The truth is mistakes happen. Smart leaders, low level employees, teachers, students, parents--we all make mistakes. But when it is YOUR JOB and you are paid to be the leaders at the helm and you fail to do your due diligence and responsibility, the choice is simple. The answer is clear.

Dr White should be held accountable for his wrong doings and his mistakes. Dr White shouldn't be allowed to waste tax payer dollars and cost our district months in legal hours, fees and delays that impact our students' education.

I applaud the hard work of the Accountability Committee. I applaud them. That's a volunteer role too by the way.
September 24, 2017 at 7:09 PM
 Delete

Newsflash: Bond Accountability Committee Draft Final Report Available on Board Docs and Full BOE Actions Now in Play.

This morning we received the following comment from community member Yvonne Mayer. We are publishing it below to put all our readers on notice of the important meeting that will take place tomorrow, September 25, 2017. The Bond Accountability Committee will meet to discuss the Draft Final Report at 5 pm at the D181 Administration Center (115 W. 55th Street, Clarendon Hills).  

Yvonne Mayer said...


Please consider posting this as a free standing post. I published this on my Facebook Account this morning.

D181 Bond Accountability Committee UPDATE

For those of you who have been following the disappointing findings of the D181 Accountability Committee, below is a link to the draft Final Report that the committee members will be discussing on Monday, 9/25 at 5 pm at the Administration Center.
I say "disappointing" above, because no one in the community could have possibly expected the committee members to uncover documents that reveal that the superintendent had direction and knowledge to ensure that the Referendum Publication Notice be published in a timely and accurate manner, thus preventing all of the chaos that ensued from December 2016 through June 2017 in connection with the HMS project.

According to news articles published in the Doings and The Hinsdalean, the full BOE must now determine what actions, if any, if must take to ensure that there is true accountability.

I, for one, have confidence that the BOE will take approrpriate steps. The work done so far by at least 2 of the 3 committee members establish that they are taking the work of the committee seriously and are not going to condone any type of cover up in connection with the information they discovered. Contrary to what D181 Board Member Turek has publicly stated (and remember, he is not on the committee), the work of the committee was not a witch hunt. It was the work of a committee established and approved by the full BOE, as a condition of the settlement agreement arising out of the HMS litigation, litigation, which it now appears could possibly have been avoided if the superintendent had followed direction and once he did not, disclosed to the full BOE his "mistake."

http://www.boarddocs.com/il/hccsdil/Board.nsf/files/ARHCKY318098/$file/2017_09_23_Bond_Referendum_Review_Committee_Final_Report_with_Member_Comments_Redlined_%26_Highlighted.pdf

As one committee member has stated in the draft Final Report: ""It is this committee member’s opinion that the most serious issue this report addresses is Dr. White’s failure to disclose informaiton in connection with the publication error, where information was kept from the BOE for an extended period of time. The findings by two committee members upon close review of district-provided documents, showing that Dr. White was in fact informed of the publication requirements by the BOE’s legal counsel dating back to August 19, 2016, was not only unexpected but disappointing. Dr. White had a fiduciary responsibility to ensure the accurate and timely publication of the election notice and he did not meet that responsibility. What is at issue here is that throughout the process, Dr. White has not been forthright in sharing this information with the BOE dating back to December 2016. There have been a multitude of opportunities to share this information through the litigation process, during Accountability Committee meetings and in the reports generated by the district in response to questions raised by the committee. At no point did Dr. White come forward with this information. This has resulted in a loss of trust in his leadership. The implications of this should be discussed by the full board."

Here are links to the news articles referenced in the comment:

9/12/2017 Doings Article

Hinsdalean Article from 9/21/2017 edition

We have now had a chance to read the Draft Final Report the Committee will be discussing tomorrow.  We would like to highlight some additional information.

The Draft Final Report outlines the following timeline for the committee's next steps:
  • *September 15, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to provide a draft report to the committee members. (This document and the inclusion of all previous related materials is intended to meet that need.)
  • *September 22, 2017 - Deadline for the Committee to provide comments on the draft report (via individual response to Dr. White).
    *September 23, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to provide the committee with a document compiling the individual comments.
  • *September 25, 2017 (5pm) - Committee meeting to review the final report.
  • *September 29, 2017 - Deadline for the administration to create the final report, as stipulated in the settlement agreement.
    *October 20, 2017 - Deadline for the final Committee meeting, as stipulated in the Settlement Agreement. 
It appears that only 2 of the commttee members, Jennifer Burns and Meeta Patel, proposed extensive additions to the 9/15/17 draft prepared by the administration.  The third commitee member, Richard Giltner, only made 8 brief comments, 5 of which were his statement of disagreement with findings in the report. We are grateful for the additions made by Ms. Burns and Ms. Patel, since it is clear that the draft prepared by the administration did not provide the detail required for a report of this importance. In particular, the section of the report that addresses the Publication Error and Dr. White's failure to comply with the BOE's attorney's direction to ensure timely and accurate publication of the Rererendum Notice, and his failure to disclose this information to the full BOE, lacked sufficient detail to accurately describe the facts surrounding the committee's findings.

Of course, is anyone surprised by this?

We look forward to listening to the podcast of the meeting to hear what additions/deletions the 3 committee members decide should go into the FINAL report.

We would also like to point out that there are 3 agenda items of interest on the Agenda for Monday's Regular D181 BOE Business Meeting that may be related to the work of the Accountability Committee .

Agenda Item 8B:  Possible Legal Action regarding damages to the District

Agenda Item 8C:  Board Attorney Legal Services Request for Proposal

Agenda Item 8D:  Authorization to Engage Outside Legal Counsel for the Purpose of Providing Legal Guidance on Issues Raised by the Accountability Committee

Agenda Item 8B:  Possible Legal Action regarding damages to the District

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

BREAKING NEWS! The Hinsdale Doings Headline says it all: District 181 Superintendent on Hot Seat over Hinsdale Middle School Delay

Rather than write a lengthy post about last night's eye opening Accountability Committee meeting, we are simply going to post a link to the Hinsdale Doing's article that was published this morning and highlight some of the content.  Click on the following link to read about the Committee's smack down of Don White.  

http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/burr-ridge/news/ct-dhd-d181-accountability-tl-0914-20170912-story.html (Source:  Hinsdale Doings, 9/12/17 Online Edition.)

We want to highlight what the article reports Board President and Accountability Committee Member Jennifer Burns said during the meeting:

"It's serious that the election commission error could have been prevented, and it could have been fixed, even if it had not been prevented," Burns said. "Along with the letter from our attorney, strongly suggesting that he check things, Dr. White was also notified by the Election Commission with the dates they had planned for publication. The error could have been caught at that time, too."

Also of significance is what Committe Member Patel said during the meeting: 

"There's an issue of trust," Patel said. "We went down a road that could have been avoided. This is the biggest project the district has taken on. Whatever it is, we need to be sure it's done correctly."

We have now listened to the podcast of last night's meeting and can confirm what the Doings reported:

 "Burns said the school board would discuss in closed session the personnel implications associated with the findings of the district's Board Referendum Review and Accountability Committee."

Per the article, when asked about the situation by the Doings Reporter,  Dr. White had no comment.  

All we will say for now about his silence is:  Really?

For those of you who want to listen to the Podcast of the Accountability Committee, it can be accessed at the following link: 

 9/11/17 Bond Accountability Committe Meeting

In our opinion, this is one meeting worth listening to.

Time will tell if Dr. White is held accountable by the full BOE.  We will be waiting, listening and watching to see what will happen next.

In the meantime, SOUND OFF!

Monday, September 11, 2017

Which is Worse -- The Incompetence or the Cover Up? Both are Inexcusable!

Tonight at 5 pm (Monday, September 11, 2017), there will be a meeting of the D181 Bond Referendum Review and Accountability Committee.  (Click to open Board Docs for Committee Meeting.) Immediately following that meeting, the full Board of Education will convene its Regular Business Meeting, starting with executive session before open public session. (Click to open Board Docs for Regular Business Meeting.)  

We hope that by the end of the meeting, the BOE will have answered the following questions:

Was there Incompetence?  Was there a Cover Up?  Which was worse?  Should anyone be held accountable?  

By now our readers are aware that Accountability Committee members Meeta Patel and Jennifer Burns have disclosed 3 smoking gun documents dealing with the premature publication of the Referendum Notice. In our opinion, these 3 smoking guns may implicate D181's Superintendent and require swift disciplinary action by the full Board of Education. In our opinion, the Board of Education must determine if these documents evidence administrative incompetence, and if the failure by Dr. White to disclose 2 of them  to the Board of Education for nearly one year is tantamount to a cover up.  

Incompetence?

Let's review these 3 smoking guns which were produced by Dr. White to the Accountability Committee members on August 9, 2017.

Smoking Gun 1: August 19, 2016 letter from Attorney John Izzo to Dr. White.  (Source: Click and go to P.24 of the 8/9/2017 Summary: Legal Notice and Related Procedures)  This letter provided a checklist of election procedures that needed to be followed in connection with the HMS Referendum.  Of significance is item #3 on the checklist which stated:

"Notice of the proposition to be submitted at the Election is to be published by the DuPage Election Commission and the Cook County Clerk.  The Notice must be published not earlier than Saturday, October 8, 2016 and not after Friday, October 28, 2016, in the Hinsdalean, which is the newspaper having general circulation in the District designated in the resolution.  We strongly suggest that you make certain that the publication of the Notice is made in an accurate and timely manner."

In our opinion, when Dr. White received this letter from the Board of Education/district's lawyer, he was put on notice (no pun intended) of his fiduciary responsiblity to take all necessary steps to ensure the accuracy and timeliness of the required Referendum Notice publication by the DuPage County Election Commission.

Smoking Gun 2:  August 23, 2016 email from the office of the Superintendent to Attorney Izzo.  This letter acknowledged that the superintendent's office was in receipt of the checklist and it's responsibility to ensure the accurate and timely publication of the Referendum Notice by the DuPage County Election Commission.  (Source:  Click and go to P.26 of the 8/9/2017 Summary: Legal Notice and Related Procedures)  Of significance is item #3 which stated:

"Our office will ensure that notice of the proposition to be submitted at the election is to be published by the DuPage Election Commission and the Cook County Clerk.  The Notice must be published not earlier than Saturday, October 8, 2016 and not after Friday, October 28, 2016, in the Hinsdalean, which is the newspaper having general circulation in the District designated in the Resolution."

Smoking Gun 3:  October 3, 2016 letter to the District from the Dupage County Election Commission.  This letter informed the office of the superintendent that the Referendum Notice would be published beginning the week of OCtober 3, 2016.  (Source:  Click and go to P.34 of the 8/9/2017 Summary: Legal Notice and Related Procedures

Specifically, the letter informed the district that:

"The posting of the notice is to occur no later than ten (10) days prior to the election.  This is in addition to the requirement to publish notice of the referendum once in a local community newspaper having general circulation within the political subdivision.  This office is fulfilling that obligation with the publication insert appearing in all the local newspapers throughout the county beginning the week of October 3, 2016."

In our opinion, this letter should have sounded alarms for Dr. White, since it suggested that publication of the Referendum Notice would occur as early as the week of October 3, which was too soon, since the first date it could legally be published was on October 8.

In our opinion, these 3 documents clearly show that the publication error by the DuPage County Election Commission could have and should have been caught by Don White BEFORE it occurred.  The district's attorney informed him on August 19, 2016 that publication COULD NOT take place before October 8 and told the superintendent that he should make sure that the DuPage County Election Commission published the notice in a timely and accurate manner.  Less than one week later, the office of the superintendent confirmed its understanding of the items described in the August 19 checklist. There is, therefore, no doubt that Dr. White knew he had a responsibility to confirm the dates of publication with the DuPage Election Commission and make sure they made no mistakes.    

All it would have taken, in our opinion, was one phone call to the DuPage Election Commission upon receipt of the August 19 letter to ask them on what date the notice was going to be published.  Had the Commission told him that it was scheduled for any date prior to October 8, 2016, he should have told them that according to the district's attorney, the date was before the legally required window of time, and he should have asked them to correct the mistake before they made it.  

Even if he didn't make that phone call upon receipt of the 8/9/2016 letter from Attorney Izzo, upon receipt of the 10/3/16 DuPage County Election Commission's letter, it is our opinion that he should have cross checked the date the Commission said publication would begin, against Mr. Izzo's letter.  Had he done that, it is our opinion that he would have realized that the Notice was potentially going to be published too early and called the DuPage County Election Commission to have them confirm the specific dates of publication.  If the Commission told him that publication was going to take place on any date before October 8,  he should have told them that according to the district's attorney, the date was before the legally required window of time, and he should have asked them to correct the mistake before they made it OR run the notice a second time within the required window of time.  Since the window did not close until October 28, the Commission would have had 25 days to ensure timely publication, even if it was a duplicate publication.

Unfortunately for the District, it appears that Dr. White did not make any calls to the DuPage County Election Commission between August 19, 2016 and October 3, 2016.  While the office of the superintendent acknowledged his responsibility to ensure timely and accurate publication by the DuPage County Election Commission of the Referendum Notice, it is our opinion that he did not fulfill his responsiblity.

This, in our opinion, was incompetence.  Will the Board of Education reach a different conclusion?

A Cover Up?

Shortly after the election, the District's Bond Counsel realized that the Referendum Notice had been published too early by the DuPage Election Commission.  There is no dispute that the Election Commission had a legal responsibility to publish the Notice between October 8 and October 28, 2016 and they blew it by publishing it too early. But Dr. White, in our opinion, had a fiduciary responsiblity to ensure that the DuPage Election Commission not make such a mistake.  And he acknowedged his responsbility in a letter to the District's attorney.  And then, in our opinion,  he too blew it by not acting on the attorney's "strong suggestion."

In our opinion, as a result of Dr. White ignoring the August 9, 2016 checklist on the Referendum Notice publication requirements, the following is a partial list of the fall out that hit the District:

1. District's Bond Counsel refused to begin selling the $53.5 million in referendum bonds as scheduled. 
2. Once this delay and the reason for  it became public, 5 community members cried foul and sued the district claiming that as a result of the premature Referendum Notice publication, the election results were invalid.  
3.  These two actions caused the delay of the HMS project, and the resulting expenditure of thousands of dollars in attorneys fees by the District to fight the litigation and to seek curative legislation in Springfield.
4.  They further resulted in the District borrowing $3 million from its reserves to pay for pre-construction costs it wanted to continue incurring to try and keep the HMS project alive.  The $3 million, however, was at risk of permanently being lost if the litigation couldn't be resolved in a resonable period of time.
5.  The litigation caused divisiveness and hostility between district residents who were justifiably furious that the project was delayed and the plaintiffs who were publicly shamed by them.
6.  The start of the HMS project was delayed until June, excavation of the site didn't even start until August and the promised August 2018 completion and opening of the new HMS has been delayed until January 2019.

In our opinion, none of these detrimental things would have taken place if Dr. White had followed the instructions in the August 9, 2016 letter, because he would have caught the Election Commission's error and the Referendum Notice could have been published in a timely and accurate manner.  

As all these negative consequences of the premature publication were taking place -- between December 2016 and July 2017 --  it appears that Dr. White failed to tell the Board of Education that he had had a checklist all along, that if followed would have prevented the DuPage Election Commission's error or allowed time for a correction.   Instead, he kept silent about the existence of the August 9 and August 23, 2016 correspondence from and to the Board of Educations/District's Attorney.  Not only did Dr. White keep silent, but it appears that so did the Board of Education/District's lawyers.  Neither Dr. White or the lawyers told the Board of Education about the August 9 and August 23 letter and email.  Moreover, not once in all of the public meetings that were held after the Bond Counsel discovered the publication mistake and refused to sell the bonds, did Dr. White or the attorney reveal to the Board of Education or the public that Dr. White had information as of October 3 that the DuPage County Election Commission might be about to make a timing mistake on the Notice Publication.  Not once in all of the public meetings that were held did Dr. White or Mr. Izzo disclose to the Board of Education or the public that the superintendent failed to follow Mr. Izzo's checklist and ensure timely and accurate publication of the Notice by the Election Commission.  

Then to further exacerbate their silence, after six months of district wide chaos and devisiveness resulting from the premature Notice publication, the litigation was settled and the Accountability Committee was established to review Referendum process concerns.  The Accountability Commitee held its first meeting on July 24, 2017, nearly one year after Dr. White received the August 9, 2016 checklist from Attorney Izzo.  At no time during that meeting, did either Dr. White or Attorney Izzo (who was present) disclose to Committee Members Burns, Giltner or Patel, the existence of the 2 August 2016 letters or Dr. White's failure to take action as listed in the August 19 letter.  During that meeting, according to Ms. Patel's recent report to Dr. White,  the committee "asked if there was a checklist available to the district to ensure that proper procedures are followed."  According to Ms. Patel, neither Dr. White or the attorney disclosed the existence of the August 9 checklist. 

After the Accountability Committee tasked the adminstration with pulling documents together for their review on the process issues they intended to address in their report, on August 9, 2017, the administration produced hundreds of pages to the committee members to review.  The adminstration also provided "Summaries" of 9 issues, including the Referendum Notice publication issue, which included charts listing and describing related documents.  

Yet the Summary of the Referndum Notice issue that was provided to the committee members utterly failed to flag the August 9 and August 23 correspondence for what they were -- a checklist and acknowledgement of a checklist. In fact the brief descriptions of those documents provided to the committee are, in our opinion, clearly misleading and in no way identify the real content of the correspondence.  But don't take our word for it.  Click to read the Summary of the Referendum Notice Publication issue.  Pages 2 of the summary provides the following descriptions of the August 9 and 23 letter/emails:

"8/19/16 Izzo letter to White.  John Izzo requested information related to the Board of Education approved bond resolution."

"8/23/16 Duggan letter to Izzo.  Jean responded to the 8/19/16 request for information from John Izzo." 

Nothing in the description of these 2 documents in any way flags the fact that Dr. White had been sent a checklist by the Board of Education/District's attorney, that it included information on the Notice publication requirements, that the attorney "strongly suggested" that  Dr. White ensure the timely and accurate publication of the Notice by the Dupage Election Commission AND that his office acknolwedged its understanding of the checklist items.  In our opinion, any reasonable person will perceive these brief descriptions as intentionally misleading.

But even after producing the actual documents, which thankfully for the District's residents, Committee Members Burns and Patel took the time to read and express concerns over, Dr. White continues to insist that there was no checklist.  Click on the link to open up a document dated September 4, 2017 titled Member Responses and Adminsitrative Follow Up.  Beginning on page 10, Dr. White provides some responses to the concerning questions asked by Committee Members Burns and Patel and the responses are baffling!

On Page 12, in response to Ms. Patel's question about why neither Dr. White or Attorney Izzo told the committee at the first Accountability Committee Meeting on 8/24 about the existence of the August 9 checklist, Dr. White says "the District does not have a checklist."  It is beyond comprehension how in light of the clear August 9, 2016 checklist, Dr. White still insists that it is not a checklist.  Moreover, this flies in the face of Attorney Izzo's response that after the 8/24/17 meeting, HE resubmitted to the administration a copy of the August 9 letter since it was responsive to the Committee's request for production to them of any checklist.  Specifically he states at P. 12:  

"When I did resubmit the August 19, 2016, letter to this Committee, it was only in the context of the question about whether I had some sort of checklist."

Yet this statement comes after Attorney Izzo first explained that he did not tell the Board about the August 9 letter to Dr. White earlier because:  "During all of that, the District was in possession of the letters exchanged in August 2016 and I was not asked about them."

In other words, he didn't need to tell the Board of Education because "the District" was already in possession of the letters exchanged in August with Dr. White and his office.  Really?

Let us not forget that the District's attorney is actually the attorney for the Board of Education as clearly specified in Board Policy 2:160.  (Click to open  Policy 2:160)  It is, in our opinion, inexcusable that after Bond Counsel refused to sell the bonds because of the publication error, that the BOARD's attorney failed to inform the BOARD of the existence of the August 2016 correspondence with Dr. White.  And as chaos and litigation reigned in D181 because of the publication error, it seems logical that the BOARD's attorney should have at some point in the last 10 months alerted the BOARD of the existence of the August 2016 letters.  But he did not. To now state that he did not do so because the District was already in possession of them makes absolutely no sense.

In our opinion, neither of the explanations given by Dr. White or the Board's attorney pass the smell test.  And beyond the illogical explanations given, what confounds us even more is the following "response" that Dr. White repeats over and over again throughout the Administrative Response:

"No administrative response is necessary at this time as this seems to be a conclusion statement and not a request for additional information or a question."

Much of Committee Member Patel and Burns' questions about the publication Notice issues and the August 2016 correspondence are prefaced with a chronology and statements of what they believe transpired.  Yet Dr. White did not feel it necessary to even acknowledge or question these statements?  Instead, he chose to remain silent -- again?

What is clear to us is that the August correspondence should have been disclosed to the Board of Education and to the public months and months ago.  Instead, Dr. White - the recipient of the August 19, 2016  letter from Attorney Izzo -- failed to inform his BOSSES -- the BOE -- of its existence or that of the August 23, 2016 response until almost one year later -- August 9, 2017.  And even now, he refuses to admit that he had a checklist all along that could have prevented the HMS debacle from its inception.

In our opinion, there is only one description for that kind of behavior -- a cover up. Will the Board of Education reach a different conclusion?

**********

So we are back to our initial questions.  Was there Incompetence or a Cover Up? And if so, which is worse? In our opinion, both are inexcusable.  Now it will be up to the Board of Education to sift through this mess, reach its own conclusions and determine if the Superintendent should be held accountable for his inaction, subsequent silence and the resulting detrimental impact to the district and community.  

We will be listening tonight to the Accountability Committee meeting and the Regular Business Meeting and we urge all of our readers to either attend in person or listen to the live stream.  D181 deserves full disclosure and full transparency on this issue -- something that has been sorely lacking since the start of the referendum process.  We hope the Board of Education take swift action to determine the facts and the truth and then hold Dr. White accountable.





Sunday, September 10, 2017

Smoking Guns Disclosed by Accountability Committee Members

This morning we received the following comment from community member Yvonne Mayer. We are publishing it now, while we finish up a post we began working on yesterday regarding the shocking smoking guns that were disclosed in Board Member Patel's and Board Member Burns' submissions to the Accountability Committee. We have bolded and changed the font to red on the key information and questions raised in the comment.

Stay tuned for our full post that will be published before midnight tonight.  In the meantime, thanks to Ms. Mayer for laying out the critical issues.

Yvonne Mayer said...
ALERT!!!!! D181 Accountability Committee Update --

Below is a FB post I published yesterday. I spent the morning reading Board Docs on the 9/11 accountability committee. It was quite eye opening and more importantly establishes quite clearly that the entire HMS Referendum/Notice/Lawsuit debacle could have been avoided. It is time for some real accountability and I am hoping that this committee and then the full board will take all necessary steps.

I am posting the link to a submission by Board Member Patel in which she flags some very serious issues and questions:


Board Member Patel's submission to the Accountability Committee

Read the entire document but focus on Section 4 called "Legal Notice and Related Procedures" in which Member Patel states:
"1. Please include the communications and FOIA requests by community members Mayer and Schmidt.

2. On August 19, 2016, a letter from the Board of Education legal firm, Hauser Izzo, was sent to the Office of Superintendent, Dr. White, stating that the district must follow multi-step election procedures.
Please see language below from item number three which states:
"Notice of the proposition to be submitted at the election is to be published by
the DuPage election commission and the cook county clerk. The notice must be published not earlier than Saturday, October 8, 2016 and not after Friday, October 28, 2016 in the Hinsdalean, which is the newspaper having general circulation in the district designated in the resolution. We strongly suggest that you make certain that the publication of the notice is made in an accurate and a timely manner."


3. On August 23, 2016, a letter from the Office of the Superintendent was sent to legal firm Hauser Izzo in response to the August 19th letter stating that they will follow election procedures.
Please see language below from item number three which states:
“Our office will ensure that notice of the proposition to be submitted at the election is to be published by the DuPage Election Commission and the Cook County Clerk. The notice must be published not earlier than Saturday, October 8, 2016 and not after Friday, October 28, 2016 in the Hinsdalean, which is the newspaper having general circulation in the district designated in the resolution.”


4. Upon receipt of the letter from the DuPage Election Commission on October 3, 2016, stating that the notices would be published the week of October 3rd, why didn’t Dr. White immediately flag the publication error as advised by lawyers on August 19th and that he confirmed that he would do on August 23rd? The Hinsdalean is a weekly publication distributed on Thursday. Based on this letter, notifications received by the district that the publication would happen on Thursday, October 6th, 2016, which was 2 days before the earliest date of Saturday, October 8th, 2016.

5. After bond counsel flagged the publication error in December and refused to sell bonds and after the lawsuit was filed, why didn’t BOE legal counsel Hauser Izzo inform the BOE of letter to Office of Superintendent dated August 19th clearly stating publication dates and response letter from Office of Superintendent confirming that they will ensure that notice properly published within publication dates?

6. At the July 26, 2017, Accountability Committee meeting why didn’t Dr White disclose the August 19, 2016 letter directing him to follow election procedures that was sent to him by the BOE legal firm when asked if there was a checklist available to the district to ensure that proper procedures are followed when he received a list of election procedures to follow on August 19, 2016? Why did he say that the district did not have a check list?

7. On August 15, 2016, District 181 wrote in the Hinsdalean into the Resolution language.
Please see language below from Section 7 of Resolution Language:
“That is hereby found and determined that the Hinsdalean is a local, community newspaper having general circulation in the District as required by Section 12-5 of the Election Code of the State of Illinois, as amended (the “Election Code”).

8. Why was the Hinsdalean chosen as the newspaper having general circulation in District 181 in the Resolution dated August 15, 2016?

9. Moving forward, a publication should be chosen that is distributed throughout the entire district 181 area including Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills, Oak Brook, Burr Ridge."

Member Patel raises some very serious questions about the inaction by Dr. White, action which, in my opinion, if taken could clearly have caught the Dupage Election publication error BEFORE it was too late to fix. But for this inaction, it is my opinion that the last 10 months of utter chaos the district has gone through would not have happened and construction on the new HMS would have started months ago.

More importantly, Ms. Patel asks good questions about why the BOE was NEVER told about these documents!

I plan to attend Monday's Accountability Committee meeting and urge all D181 residents to do the same. It is time for some answers and accountability!

Friday, September 8, 2017

A Meeting Has been Scheduled for 9/11 by the HMS Referendum Accountability Committee. Why is it "Necessary?"

Tonight we received the following comment.  We have decided to post it as a free standing post.  Just as the poster, we will review what is published on Board Docs for the "necessary" 9/11/17 Accountability Committee meeting. We will report back if we read anything that might answer the question of why this meeting is being called.

AnonymousAnonymous said...
A community member just posted this to their Facebook page. Can you run as a free standing post and put people on notice?

D181 HMS Accountability Committee Update.

Today, the D181 Communications Director sent out a brief email to the community providing notice of a regular BOE meeting scheduled for Monday, September 11. Almost as an after thought is a one line reference to a 5 pm meeting on 9/11 of the Accountability Committee.

As you all know, part of the HMS litigation settlement was the creation of an Accountability Committee to review process concerns related to the HMS referendum. The first meeting was held on July 26 and a summary of that meeting can be accessed at:

http://www.d181.org/…/B…/Meetings/Board_Summary_17-07-26.pdf

The timeline of future meetings is outlined towards the end of the summary and of relevance is the following statement:
"It was determined that the Committee may meet prior to the regularly scheduled Business meeting on September 11, 2017, if necessary, to discuss their submitted comments and questions. If the meeting is held, the deadline for the administration to provide the draft report would be moved to September 7, 2017 so that related materials can be posted on BoardDocs."

So it appears, that a meeting is "necessary." Board docs on this meeting will post on Saturday morning. I for one, will be reading them to see why a meeting is needed.
September 8, 2017 at 5:49 PM

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

WAKE UP to Possible Negative Impacts of Recently Enacted School Funding Legislation!

This morning we received the following comment from resident Yvonne Mayer asking that we publish it as a free standing post.  We have agreed to do so, after watching the video clip she references showing the D86 Superintendent speaking candidly (at last night's D86 BOE meeting) about the negative impact the enacted legislation may have on districts such as D86.  Everything he said could happen in D181.  It is time the community wakes up to this issue. If Dr. White won't "tell it like it is," then we guess we will have to.

As always, SOUND OFF!

Yvonne Mayer said...
Dear Bloggers: Below is an email I just sent to the D181 BOE. Please consider publishing it as a free standing post. The D181 community must know about possible future ramifications of the recent state funding vote in Springfield. Thank you.


Dear D181 Board of Education Members and Dr. White:

Last night I attended the D86 Board meeting. Dr. Law publicly reported on legislative school funding actions taken in the last 2 weeks in Springfield and the possible negative ramifiations D86 will face as a result.

I urge all of you to watch the portion of last night's Videopodcast and his Superintendent's report on this issue. 


It can be accessed at https://vimeo.com/232640018 and begins at Counter 1:38:50. 

This is not Dr. Law's first public report on the school funding issues. He has been transparent, candid and willing to lay out the issues not only to the D86 BOE, but also to the D86 community. He should be commended for his proactive approach to these important school funding issues.

Dr. Law's proactive reporting style should be emulated by Dr. White in D181. The D181 community deserves to have a superintendent who stays ahead of the issues, just as Dr. Law has in D86.

I urge the D181 BOE to request that Dr. White begin publicly addressing state funding issues in more detail than he has in the past.

Respectfully.

Yvonne Mayer
D181 Taxpayer

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Where Exactly is the Math Bridge Program Taking D181's Students?

This year, we will focus on publishing as free standing posts comments our readers submit that raise important issues, especially those that impact our students directly.  Yesterday we received the following 2 comments that question the impact last summer's Math Bridge program is going to have on our students.  The fundamental questions, in our opinion, are

  • Just how many students should actually be accelerated in math by 3 years?  
  • What really is a good measure to determine if these young children are ready for such rapid acceleration and will be successful in high school and beyond.

Triple acceleration means that when they are in 8th grade, they will be taking Algebra 2 Trigonometry Honors at Hinsdale Central High School, Pre-calculus as Freshmen, Calculus BC as Sophomores, Multi-variable calculus as Juniors and then either go off site to a local college to be further accelerated in Calculus based courses, or take Statistics or Computer Science as Seniors.  The comments below suggest that many avenues to jump onto the 3 year accelerated math track are now in place in D181, mainly as a result of the new Bridge program which only requires 70% to pass these kids.

While no doubt every year there will be a few students district wide who should be triple accelerated, and while no doubt our community is filled with very smart parents with very smart students, when the numbers start to climb and we are now looking at over 15 students in one building alone who have been triple accelerated, has the district inadvertently set most of these students up for future failure at the high school?  Let's hope D181 and D86 closely track these students and are prepared to publicly report the data to the community in future years.

In the meantime, we welcome submission by parents who might have opposing views on this issue and if received, we will modify this post to include the different perspectives.  We want to be clear that on this issue, we, the bloggers, are not taking a position on what is right or wrong, but are simply posing the concerns some parents have submitted and have asked questions that should ultimately be answered.

As always, SOUND OFF!

Comments:



Anonymous Anonymous said...
I went to curriculum night at my school this week. By the presentation given to 5th grade parents, I have determined that the number of OUTLIERS in my school by very definition goes against what an outlier is. There are 2/3 of our students studying math 2 years ahead and within that group there are 15 kids who will go on to 3 years ahead.

That's 15 kids who are 3 years of math ahead in one building. I didn't realize Hinsdale had so many outliers. We look pretty much homogenous if you ask me.

My daughter thinks she's dumb in grade level math. I told her if 2/3 of your class was truly that brilliant our scores would look a lot better. Clearly, the people making decisions don't have any responsibility for these kids. And parents are blindly going along pushing their kids for accelerated learning.

TRUTH: At some point, it will catch up. Don't have a label of OUTLIERS for a group that is sizable. Outliers are rare. Clearly no one knows what an outlier is.

September 1, 2017 at 8:06 PM
 Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
I'm looking at the email that came out from my child's teacher regarding her math class.

I don't understand. So all of the kids who took the bridge program passed. That means they all had perfect attendance and they all got 70 percent or better. But if you were in school not taking bridge, you needed 80th percent in years past to be advanced. And to be accelerated you needed 99th. But now we drop it to 97th, take the bridge, and just get 70th.

I'm confused. Good thing I'm not in bridge.

And if you wanted to go from advanced to accelerated last year, you needed 99th. End of year test. etc. But in spring, if you were 97th you could bridge by giving up three weeks intense in summer. Passing at 70th.

Okay.

And then when I get to middle school is it 70 percent or greater.

My youngest is in a cohort group taught by a middle school guy. The email states that she needs a C or better to continue. C-really?. Is C getting my daughter on Honor Roll at HMS? I don't think so.

I'm struggling to find the words to tell my daughter that event though her teacher thinks a C is okay. It isn't okay here. Not if she is accelerated.

Is this so when they get to middle school they all take Integrated Geometry and slow down? I just don't understand. I got on to the district website and I can't even make sense of this math trajectory at all. There is no communication to parents at all on what this means for our kids. SPELL IT OUT. I never asked for my kid to be 2 years ahead. Or 3. I didn't ask that she be pushed. Great, you pushed her. But you are pushing her but telling her a C is okay. I don't understand. My wife says it is too much too fast. Puberty hasn't hit. What about drama club? what about gymnastics. Ridiculous if you ask me.

Some of the smartest most talented people in the world were not in advanced math. Something stinks here.

September 1, 2017 at 8:28 PM
 Delete

Monday, August 28, 2017

D181 is Riddled with Trouble. Can it be Saved?

Today we received the following comment which we have decided to publish as a free-standing post. When we read it we realized that D181 is in deep trouble and it will be up to the Board of Education to take action soon to right the once again sinking ship.  Our plan at the beginning of the summer was to re-open the blog for comments and then possibly shut it down again if there wasn't enough interest to keep it going.  We have determined that we had enough comments over the summer, and now this new one addressing serious concerns impacting all students, to justify keeping the blog open.

Please sound off and let us know if you agree or disagree with the following:



Anonymous said...
"Not sure anyone else has seen the Board Docs agenda for Mondays meeting.

First--Terri Hanrahan has resigned. Whether you liked her, knew her or had no clue who she was-the bottom line is this is YET ANOTHER employed professional of the district department of learning to quit. Anyone think this is odd now? We've lost Kelley Gallt after 1 year; Terri Hanrahan after 1 year; we've lost principals after 1 to 2 years; we've lost Teachers on Special Assignments hired and then resigning right away; departmental secretaries; the list goes on.

What we haven't lost is Don White.

Two-This is a critical year for the District. We have new curriculum in all the subject content areas. Teachers and staff are without leadership that has experience, tenure, professionalism, training, and support to lead the charge and grow the charge implementing it with fidelity and continuity among all of our feeder schools.

Three--the math trajectory is a joke. We are accelerating and advancing kids on all sorts of criteria that changes yearly. We have combined groupings and 2/3 of our grade level classes advanced in math in many schools. We have kids skipping one to two to three years of content with continued acceleration because for years the criteria has changed. We have grandfathered cohort groups of kids who have low scores, no scores, or no data and some who do or have too much data. There are kids with low MAP scores and no MAP Scores but teacher buy in. Doing the bridge advanced a bunch of kids who needed only 70 percent to advance. Kids who needed to qualify for advanced needed 80th. And then still, there are kids who need 99th supposedly for acceleration BUT GUESS WHAT--we take kids lower than that and some who are grandfathered are hovering at 85th. And still some are below that. Then do we look at the numbers of kids who continue long term? Rumor on the street is that kids entering middle school are taking steps back. It is too much pressure. Where is due diligence here?

Four-we have no follow through on the advanced and accelerated programs for kids in math. And now there is possible talk of tiering for science in Year 2 of roll out. Like seriously? We can't even clean up our math and we roll out advancement possibilities in science in the future?

Five-District school websites are all over the place. Some schools do them some schools don't but they all tell you at curriculum night to go to the website. AHEM. Your website has photos of kids from 3 years ago.

Six-We get bulletin after bulletin about HMS. When are we going to have an action group called VOTE YES FOR CURRICULUM CHANGE AND CONTINUITY. I said it first. You heard it here.

Seven-what is wrong with a District that can't keep qualified people on deck? We're a lighthouse district they say. Really-I don't see anyone looking for our beam in the darkness. Instead, I see them all running.

I don't envy the BOE. But I do charge them with dealing with this nonsense.

Skyward was rolled out. But do you know the email feature was turned off? In other districts, they load F and P on skyward, they load grades not just for middle school but elementary too. They have weekly check ins by teachers; comments; the list goes on. In D 181, we don't do that. We do however give a grading day for teachers so they can have one whole day to grade. Unheard of in any district 50 miles in either direction around here.

The bottom line. D 181 is great because the parents are great. They pay, they supplement, they tutor, they donate, they fundraise, they volunteer. There are good teachers. Absolutely. But there are many more who are toting the line. And who blames them? They can't have consistency. They don't have the same criteria year to year. And they don't even know what resource is being used because it changed overnight."
August 27, 2017 at 9:15 AM