See corrections in this story: https://blnnews.com/2018/01/11/unit-5-story-corrections/
By: Diane Benjamin
I wish my kids had been coached by Darren Hess. The parents who spoke at last night’s School Board meeting proved Hess was a great mentor and role model for the players and their families. Great coaches don’t happen often, supporters are crushed to lose this one. I filmed all the comments except mine – video below. My comments were mostly a request for the release of minutes to heal the divide the Board caused between themselves and the close to capacity crowd.
State law does not require Board members to keep secret what happens in the “secret meetings” – executive session. I’m sure the school lawyer will disagree, he won’t be able to find a statute. Commonly board members don’t talk because it isn’t necessary.
Here it is necessary!
WGLT posted this story about the meeting: http://wglt.org/post/normal-west-football-family-wants-answers-after-coach-resigns
This story includes a link to another story of theirs from November 9. http://wglt.org/post/unit-5-property-tax-bills-expected-stay-put#stream/0
David Cobb, who said he worked on past committees for Unit 5, signed up for public comment and approached the board on behalf of multiple parents sitting behind him to meet with them in closed session to discuss a national issue becoming a problem within Unit 5 schools.
Cobb and other parents would not tell GLT on what they wanted to privately discuss with the board.
At first, Board President Jim Hayek hesitated to agree to a closed session. Hayek said individuals must schedule a closed session with the board at least 48 hours in advance. Cobb urged the board to meet with them out of respect for the parents who came to make the request. The board overrode the rules and met with the parents when the regular meeting adjourned.
If WGLT got the story right, this meeting was illegal and a violation of the Open Meetings Act.
All meetings are required to be posted 48 hours in advance. If correct, Board President Jim Hayek broke the law by meeting with the parents. Any resulting Board action is void.
Since this meeting took place more than 60 days ago, the Attorney General’s Pubic Access office will not get involved. This is grounds for a lawsuit by anyone who wants the truth.
Any Unit 5 Board member can tell the public what happened, publicly or anonymously.
Payments to coaches were made by Unit 5 on Unit 5 checks. The emails I posted yesterday showed payments were discussed and settled in 2015. If they violated IHSA rules, nobody receiving or sending those emails mentioned it. If the payments are a problem Unit 5 caused it, not Coach Hess. The WGLT story looks like a few parents unhappy with their kids playing time claimed racism. I saw the players sitting together last night, they weren’t segregated from each other. I talked to parents who claimed these charges were made before by the same people and investigated. Nothing was found.
With each day that passes the Unit 5 Board is looking worse. They caved to Cobb and company and held an illegal meeting about a “national issue”. A much-loved coach resigned without a valid explanation from either side.
Members of the Board with integrity need to stop this now by telling the truth. As one speaker said, Coach Hess resigned, the Board doesn’t have to accept his resignation.
The minutes of the November 13th meeting do not show this meeting: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?mk=50265697&fn=minutes.pdf