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SD103 violated Open Meetings Act: Attorney General

Board was wrong to cut off

comments at October meeting

By Bob Bong

Attorney General Lisa Madigan ruled last week

that Lyons School District 103 board members violated the state’s Open meetings

Act when they cut off public comments after 15 minutes at a heated meeting in

October.

Madigan issued an opinion on Jan. 9 that the

board “violated (the Open meetings Act) during its Oct. 22, 2018, meeting by

enforcing an unestablished and unrecorded rule limiting the public comment

portion of the meeting to 15 minutes.”

The decision was sent to both Board President

Marge Hubacek and Hinsdale attorney Martin Stack, who filed a complaint with

the Attorney General’s office after the meeting.

In her ruling, Madigan directed the school board

“to take appropriate action to comply with this opinion by refrainingfrom

applying unestablished and unrecorded rules to restrict public comment at

future meetings and by otherwise conducting its future meetings in full

compliance with (the Open Meetings Act).”

About 200 parents and local officials attended the

Oct. 22 board meeting to demand answers about the hiring of Andres Rodriguez to

teach sixth-grade English. It was later discovered that Rodriguez had been

fired from two other school districts after he was charged with attempted

murder after shooting a man seven times during a traffic dispute in Tinley Park.

The district suspended Rodriguez once the charges

became known. He was fired last month.

Interim Supt.

Patrick Patt said it took two months for the board to fire Rodriguez was

because “we had to go through the proper procedures, the protocol. “We did what

we had to do.”

Critics of the hiring claimed Rodriguez was hired

overfive other potential candidates despite widely known

information that he was facing felony attempted murder charges.

Critics of the hiring said Hubacek and her

supporters ridiculed them during the meeting and closed the public discussion

period after 15 minutes. Only five people were allowed to speak and she turned

away dozens of parents who wanted to ask questions aboutthe

Rodriguez hiring.

One of those who tried to speak was McCook Mayor

and Cook County Board Commissioner Jeff Tobolski. Hubacek denied him access to

the microphone and closed the topic.

“If she prevented an elected representative of

hundreds of thousands of people from speaking, how does she treat the parents

in the district? Does she even listen to them? Does she care about them?

Parents should be concerned. I was concerned and that is why the complaint was

filed,” Stack said after the Attorney General’s decision was released.

“Chairman Hubacek broke the law when she stopped

the public from addressing the board and the Illinois Attorney General’s office

agreed. People should be free to express their opinionatboard meetings and not be subjected to the whims

of petty tyrants. In this case, the board majority thought they could keep a

gunman’s hiring as a teacher a secret. After that information became public,

Hubacek was visibly upset at the meeting and resorted to laughter and mockery

as parents addressed the board.”

School District 103 board member Jorge Torres,

who opposed Hubacek’s decision and raised the issue about Rodriguez’s hiring,

repeated his demand that Hubacek resign from the board adding that the board

should immediately reconvene a new meeting to allow parents to speak.

“Marge Hubacek has abused her powers since taking

over the board. She has politicized the board’s actions and pushed aside the

interests of the students and their parents,” said Torres.

“The board should immediately reschedule the meeting

and allow all of the parents of students who attend District 103 schools the

opportunity to ask questions. Hubacek has tried to brush this controversy under

the rug without answering questions including many concerns that Rodriguez was

hired because he knows someone on the board.”

Calls for Hubacek to resign were made at a news conference held by Tobolski,

Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty and state Sen. Martin Sandoval. Sandoval is

sponsoring legislation that would require anyone hired by any school district

in the state of Illinois who is involved in a felony criminal case to disclose

those facts when applying for any school employment position.

“There needs to be consequences for Hubacek’s actions,” said Torres, who is heading a slate of

candidates seeking to oust Hubacek in the April 2 consolidated election.

Torres‘ running mates includeOlivia Quintero, Winifred Rodriguez and Vito Campanile who

are running on the Parents for Student Excellence slate.

Hubacek has said

she has no intention to resign.

“I understand

their emotions, but I was elected by the people. I wasn’t elected by the grandstanders,”

she said after the October meeting.

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