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Transparent step taken by District U-46 Board


By Seth Hancock
  The Board of Education in School District U-46 approved making public closed session meeting minutes from about a decade ago at its meeting on Tuesday, April 23. The vote was 6-0, board member Sue Kerr was absent.
  The U-46 board held 70 total closed session meetings over two years and released minutes from 34 meetings in 2007 and 36 from 2008. Portions of the minutes have been “redacted and agreed to by the Board of Education” according to the agenda.
  Donna Smith, the board’s president, is the only current board member on the board in 2007 and 2008.
  For board member Jeanette Ward, this was a small win as she has attempted to make the board more transparent to the public since taking her seat in 2015. Board member Phil Costello has consistently supported Ward’s efforts for greater transparency.
  Ward thanked staff including Miguel Rodriguez, chief legal officer, for reviewing the minutes.
  “I wanted to thank especially Miguel, and also administration for working so hard to review these minutes and make recommendations for what can be released to the public,” Ward said. “I’m very glad to see us taking this step.”
  In February, Costello and Ward voted against the destruction of closed session recordings from 14 meetings in 2016. Although against the destruction of tapes, Ward said at the time “we’re starting to have discussions as a board about this” which she clarified with The Examiner that in closed session that evening was the first time the board discussed possibly releasing any previous closed session discussions to the public.
  In only her second meeting on the board in 2015, Ward asked to listen to previous closed session recordings but had her civil rights violated by the board’s majority, as clarified later by the Illinois General Assembly with a law which forced the U-46 board to change its policy and practices. Since then, Ward has been in the center of several battles to create more transparency in the district.

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