Parents Rebuke School Board Over Recent Closed Meetings
District 308 Board President Bill Walsh said human error to blame for lack of mandated recordings of closed sessions.
The Oswego School District 308 Board heard from upset parents Thursday night over what some say are recent violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.
At issue is the lack of audio recording of closed session meetings in recent weeks in which the board has interviewed candidates for open administrative positions. The Illinois Open Meetings Act requires public bodies to audiotape or videotape all closed meetings.
Before another such meeting Thursday night, Board President Bill Walsh said human error led to recordings not being made for closed session meetings dated April 14, 16, 19, 20, and 21.
“I acknowledge that the tape recordings didn’t work,” he said. “But I can assure you that it wasn’t on purpose.”
Walsh said minutes were taken by him during the meetings and he plans to present them to the board for approval at its May 7 meeting. When asked if he was concerned with possible violations of the act or if he feared an investigation into the matter, Walsh reiterated only human error was at play.
“I understand that we are all human and make mistakes,” said parent Karin McCarthy-Lange during public comment. “I can even accept that this could happen once or twice, but the fact that it happened at all five meetings when the only person taking minutes is a board member is completely unacceptable.”
Thursday night’s meeting was called to interview more candidates for the Assistant Superintendent of Administration to replace the outgoing Todd Colvin. Like other recent closed meetings, no members of the district’s administration were present for the interviews.
Parent Mary Zarembski, who last week started an online petition asking for board officers to step aside, told the board the lack of current administrative input on new hires was troublesome.
“Given that the administrative staff will be working with the new assistant superintendent on a daily basis, does the board feel it would be in the best interest of the district to afford the candidates and staff the same opportunity?” she asked.
Besides Colvin’s position, the board also is currently searching for a replacement for retiring Assistant Superintendent for Learning Marsha Hollis and Superintendent Dan O’Donnell, who resigned in February.