Costly Violations of District 113 Board of Education Policy
Costly Violations of District 113 Board of Education Policy
Written By Laurie Higgins   |   03.25.10

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Some months ago, I filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with School District 113, asking for any documents that mentioned my name. This is the district for which I worked for a decade and from which all four of my children graduated. As I wrote earlier, I was stunned by the unprofessional nature of the emails that I received through my FOIA request. All public school email is government property and therefore is subject to FOIA regulations.

At a recent school board meeting, school board member Harvey Cohen lamented the cost of FOIA requests to the district, costs which have been substantial because of the involvement of the law firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn.

Fortunately, there is a way for the district to recoup their expenses, which I asked them about in the March 22, 2010 Board of Education meeting.

The Board of Education has established policy regarding district computer use. The policy states that “Unacceptable Use [of the Computer Network] is generally defined as any action that is socially inappropriate” and “Unacceptable Use is specifically defined as inappropriate use of the District’s computer network in the following ways: disclosing personal addresses, telephone numbers, or other personal identifying information of other persons; disseminating material that constitutes or furthers libel [or] slander; deliberately creating, transmitting, or disseminating material that contains indecent/inappropriate language [or] text.”

Further, this policy states that District 113 employees “agree to indemnify the District for any losses, costs, damages, charges, or fees, including, but not limited to, telephone charges, long-distance charges, per-minute surcharges, equipment or line costs, or attorney fees, incurred by the District and relating to, or arising out of, [their] use of the District’s computer network or any violation of Policy 4146 or other rules, regulations or other terms or conditions of computer network access promulgated by the Superintendent or Building Principals.”

Here are just a few of the emails sent by district employees via district email that violate district computer use policy::

  • Superintendent George Fornero disseminated an email to a DHS faculty member in which I was falsely accused of anti-Semitism.
  • George Fornero sent an email to California”diversity educator” Glenn Singleton in which he said “WELCOME TO WHITE SUBURBIA!” (This clearly racist comment violates a number of district policies and principles.)
  • Highland ParkHigh Schoolteacher’s aide Beth Avraham sent an email to HPHS Spanish teacher Robin Oliver in which she called me a “sick b—-” whom she hoped would burn in hell.
  • Highland Park High School Spanish teacher Robin Oliver, whom I’ve never met, sent emails in which he shared personal medical information about two members of my family.
  • Highland Park High School English teacher Paul Swanson, whom I’ve never met, sent an email to George Fornero saying, “I have a name/word for [Laurie] and I cannot put it in print.”
  • Paul Swanson sent an email to George Fornero in which he said, “cmon————–I want the American Civil Liberties Union on [Laurie’s] ass so fast-that’s the way to get her….”
  • Directory of Diversity Andrea Johnson sent an email to Deerfield High School principal Audris Griffith in which she said “The bad news is [Laurie] lives in Deerfield and she and her “cronies” show up at board meetings.”
  • DHS principal Audris Griffith, whom I’ve never met, sent an email to Andrea Johnson in which she said, “The good news for you and me is that [Laurie] isn’t married to anyone in our respective families.”

In light of clear board policy regarding the dissemination of socially inappropriate emails and emails that contain inappropriate language or text, I asked the board if it is going to recover the costs incurred by the district-including the fees paid to district attorneys-from those people responsible for violating district “Computer Network Acceptable Use” policy.

District 113 taxpayers ought to also ask some hard questions of the school board regarding the $264,035 paid to the law firm of Hodges, Loizzi, Eisenhammer, Rodick & Kohn between Sept. 17, 2008-Dec. 9, 2009. Click here for district check register details.

Laurie Higgins
Laurie Higgins was the Illinois Family Institute’s Cultural Affairs Writer in the fall of 2008 through early 2023. Prior to working for the IFI, Laurie worked full-time for eight years...
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