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Court Rules Former School Board Member’s Lawsuit Will Remain Dismissed

The Illinois Appellate Court ruled Jan. 25 that a lawsuit filed by former Lemont-Bromberek District 113A School Board member Janet Hughes was rightfully dismissed by the Circuit Court.

Nearly two years of litigation against Lemont-Bromberek School District 113A is over - after the Illinois Appellate Court  Jan. 25 ruled a lawsuit filed by former school board member Janet Hughes was rightfully dismissed by the Circuit Court.

Hughes filed the lawsuit April 28, 2011 in Cook County Chancery Court, alleging she was denied access to certain confidential documents and information that she claimed were necessary to perform her duties as a school board member.

In the lawsuit, among other assertions, Hughes claimed defendants (former 113A Superintendent Tim Ricker, former Board President John Wood and Board Member Lisa Wright) “flatly refused access to verbatim recordings of closed session meetings, and denied her access to District financial records.”

Hughes’ term on the school board expired less than one week after she filed the suit in April 2011. The former board member’s write-in bid for re-election was unsuccessful after her name was removed from the ballot in January for failing to properly bind her nominating petition.

In November 2011, in response to a motion filed by District 113A, the Circuit Court dismissed the lawsuit. The court ruled that the case was moot because Hughes was no longer a board member – and further ruled that even if Hughes were still a board member, Illinois law did not support her claimed right of unfettered access to school district documents.

Hughes appealed the Circuit Court’s decision to the Illinois Appellate Court, which issued the Jan. 25 ruling confirming that the lawsuit had been rightfully dismissed by the lower court.

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Jorg Manteno February 01, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Mike, from my understanding of the transportation fund mistake, the district was over-imbursed for transportation costs from the state and is currently repaying those monies. Since the district received more monies from the state than alloted-how has this cost the taxpayers or district anything? It is simply returning money that the district should not have received in the first place. The legal costs of this suit and others is an unnecessary expense that has burdened our district. You are comparing apples to oranges.
Mike Whatley February 01, 2013 at 08:43 PM
Your right, that particular mistake didn't cost us any real dollars, just more credibility at a time we had little of that to spend. Not that it matters now as he is gone and we don't have to put up with his antics or mistakes. Dr. Susan Birkenmaier seems to be doing a good job building the districts credibility and funds while raising the accountability bar to a new level. I'm sure the folks in Springfield join in our communities rejoicing of his departure as long overdue as it was.
Linda Ozbolt February 01, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Paul and Mary, I called District 113A Superintendent Susan Birkenmeier in regard to your questions, and she commented as follows: "The cost of legal services to defend these suits are paid through the District's insurance policy secured through an insurance cooperative. District 113A does not pay the bills directly. The district will not comment on a pending lawsuit. Final legal fees for the dismissed case have not yet been submitted." I hope this answers your questions, at least for now. Thank you for your comments.
Jorg Manteno February 02, 2013 at 09:01 PM
Mary, from my understanding, the insurance cooperative the district belongs to is CLIC-which cost the district over $204,000 last year.
martin finn February 08, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Lisa Wright and Doeherty not on ballot for school board? Am I right about that? If so, testimony to how poor performance ruins ambitions. Can we learn a little bit about new candidates? Thanks.

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