EDITORIAL BY THE CORRUPTION BUSTERS STAFF
We applaud the good judgment expressed by Mayor Wayne Motley to appeal to Governor Quinn's intervention via objective & even tempered mediator, Gery Chico, to bring an escalating situation back to center.
Chico is a seasoned attorney with a long history of public service, having led the Chicago Public Schools through some very tentative times. Click here to view his experience. It is no coincidence that Paul Vallas is now seeking public office. (We offer no partisan position but simply an observation on commitment to personal service for the electorate). To be fair, in private practice Gery billed out at rates comparable to Anthony Ficarelli and obtained contracts from government agencies. So, the right guy in the right place. He was interviewed yesterday and quipped "I am not leaving until this is done!" And, he kept his word.
The foundation of our American system of advocacy places a buffer between contentious parties. Every citizen has the right to counsel, even if there is financial hardship to hire an expensive attorney.
Passion, ego, stubbornness and a full range of emotions cloud the process to protect one's position yet be open to compromise.
The Illinois School Board of Education (ISBE) is mandated by the Illinois Legislature and signed into law by the Governor of Illinois. (105ILCS5) Here is downloadable link of the Act.
Under ISBE, there is a Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators.
ISBE trumps local school board operation by being a direct provider of funds, has the power and statutory authority to remove professional staff under turnaround and can directly take over control of any school district that is not financially stable.
We offer suggestions to Illinois Legislators to amend the current statute, expand ISBE's oversight of local School Districts and extend checks and balances related to elected Board Members, who are required to take training and are certified by ISBE.
Click here to download the certifications currently held by the individual WPS60 Board Members.
1. The Code of Ethics needs to be extended to school board members to insure proper decorum and respect to taxpayers, students, teachers and Administrators. These elected officials are in the public eye and need to provide examples of good citizenship, as well as leadership.
2. School boards need to be placed under the purview of an Inspector General's Office to insure that the public has a channel for reporting improprieties and a bureau to investigate outside the Administration of the Districts.
3. Elected officials should be required, as part of the ISBE certification, to pass with proficiency an examination related to acumen in understanding a complex budget that is typically comprised of taxpayer dollars in the hundreds of millions. The exam should also cover School policy, Oversight of Accountability of Administrators regarding their fiduciary duties and a system to provide teeth to the grievance process that is currently not independent.
4. The union has the right to file grievances, Administrators typically drag their feet addressing these grievances and there is no independent appeal process in the event of an impasse. For example, the Illinois Insurance Licensure Director oversees the appeal process when insurance companies deny medical procedures or medications. ISBE could provide management of a similar system.
5. School board members need to be subject to impeachment and recall for cause including gross abuse of their duties as elected officials and mismanagement of taxpayer funds. Any School Board member convicted of a misdemeanor or felony shall be immediately removed their position. Any board member under indictment for a crime shall be suspended from their board position until full disposition of the case.
6. School districts must carry Errors and Omissions insurance to indemnify the taxpayers against gross mismanagement and attorney's fees should be borne personally and not at district expense.
7. During a strike, in accord with the Affordable Care Act, school boards are barred from suspending/terminating healthcare coverage, resulting in potential reckless endangerment or death. All members in the plan comprise a single class of covered employees with the only distinction being the differential in premium between single and dependent coverage.
8. During a strike, if teacher's pay is suspended, all administrator pay in the district is also suspended until a collective bargaining agreement can be ratified by the union members and affirmed by the School Board.
9. School Districts are subject to independent audit of budget including revenues and expenditures upon petition of 500 verified residents within the district.
In the light of the events of the last month in Waukegan, we call upon Senator Terry Link and Rep. Rita Mayfield, in concert with legislative leadership to draft legislation that will strengthen protection of taxpayer assets and insure professional behaviour on the part of elected School Board members.