UPDATE: Unit 5 Board: Illegal meeting

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





18 thoughts on “UPDATE: Unit 5 Board: Illegal meeting

  1. No words to even describe that spineless act. Definitely time for the board to come clean. How can they even serve in their duties after this?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t thank BLNnews enough for all you do.

    It would appear there are a lot of heads hanging low at the schools yesterday 1-10-18.

    I firmly believe after reading the information provided by BLNnews this is a sham and they took it out on the lowest hanging fruit which caused a good man to resign under the pressure. See, good men that work hard and put their heart and soul into there name and work they do, are not the fighters it would take to fight this ridiculousness. He just went through years of racist accusations that were proved false, now this. The people have to stand up but I’m not sure coach has the strength to continue this ridiculousness.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Appears to me and many others that in 2015 a group of educated men (coaches/AD’s) began to brainstorm how to better manage 85-100 athletes with only 5 paid positions. Those fellas asked for guidance from their leadership and that leadership then asked for guidance from their leadership. The question we should be asking is…what was the top leaderships response to payment of volunteer assistants and was it followed or not. We dont see that in an email because at the top they know better than to put certain decisions down electronically…Leaders of young men looked for answers, did they get them and not follow them??? or did they follow what they were told was ok to do and it just now conveniently gives them the out they need to get a lawsuit threat to go away…??? How many times in our lives to things happens that conveniently without a plan…those at the top need to be asked the right questions…and then answer them with the integrity that Unit 5 prides itself on…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was at the board meeting last night. I am a parent of 2 boys who have played under Coach Hess and I have been with the Unit 5 school district since 2005 and I can truly say that I’m ashamed of the process that has happened. The board is letting people bully them into forcing a resignation from a honestly great person. They have played the race card and from where I’m sitting as a black parent they are the racist. This coach has been there for many of the boys that didn’t have parents there at the games supporting them. Its sad that they are some of the ones I hear have jumped on this bandwagon. I didn’t speak last night because I would have probably been escorted out because this is wrong. This is to the parents that are running behind the people who have started this mess should be ashamed but I guess you aren’t because you are the ones he was there for your kids the most. This football program will not be successful because of the way things were handled and I blame the board. Stop letting 3 individuals bully you into making a big mistake. If you are going to investigate then start with talking to the players and past players, not one of them will have a negative thing to say about Coach Hess. I’m glad this is our last year with Unit 5 since they are letting these people ruin what these coaches have formed, a family unit. Wrong is wrong and I won’t bite my tongue, false accusations against someone just to get your way. This is not a black and white thing this is a moral thing and you didn’t have a problem when your son was playing. Its funny because Hess isn’t even the offensive coordinator but you still went after him. You want to make an issue out of this but were too afraid to even come to the board meeting,I’m going to stop here because there is a whole lot more I can say.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess the “National Issue” plaguing Unit 5 involves crybabies looking for participation trophies, coddling, guarenteed playing time, rewards for poor or no work ethic…I agree that has become a “National Issue”. However, its not just relegated to sports. How this has become an issue that has tore apart a football program, caused unnecessary headache for all the people involved defies logic. Why would the school board have even entertained these parents? How did their bullying campaign get this far? Shame on the school board and administrators for cowering to them. Particularly to men with very questionable public records. Nice to see they still a positive contributors to society!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Who is this David Cobb??? Because on the Mclean County public access site, it list a David Cobb with 16 offense listed against him, Felonies, Criminal Misdemeanor, and major traffic violation. one felony was endangering a child under 18 years…….is this the David Cobb that the board is standing up for???


  7. Same guy. Nice to see he’s a community activist now. There are “national issues” at Unit 5 that need addressing. I’m thinking get a real job and stop harassing people. Lewis’s record is really nice too. Pretty sure he doesn’t work either. Gotta love professional agitators. They stir up trouble and run!


  8. Yes, I just got done doing some of my own investigating and found that his name is CLARENCE DAVID COBB and looks like he has had a much trouble past, and him and the justice system are like best friends…


  9. Here’s a link to a picture of the parents waiting for the closed door meeting to start….They say a picture can say a thousand words….so I won’t be saying anything else for now.


  10. All I know is I’m enjoying one of the parents getting tore apart on another social media site. He deserves the wrath of the masses for this trouble he helped cause. All for playing time. Guy needs professional help.


  11. I have been following this story in the media for the past almost month now, and have been reading the many stories and comments that have been left across the 3 medias that have been posting stories on this concern. The school board and a few others want you to believe that it is somehow related to funds that were paid to the coaches. Us that are awake and can read between the lines feel it is related to other things.
    What we do know is that the older quarterback walked off the team on Monday Oct 30, 2017 which was the following Monday after West had just won a home playoff game. Why, when there was still another playoff game to be played the following week? You just don’t quit in the middle of a season for no reason, more so during the playoffs, unless you are pouting about something.
    The picture on WGLT website for the parents waiting to meet with the school board for the closed-door session clearly shows 2 set of parents waiting for this meeting to take place to discuss “a prominent national issue faced in schools needed to be addressed”. In this picture you can clearly recognize that the one set of the parents are the parents of the older quarterback who had walked off the team so abruptly during the playoffs, leaving his team hanging, and being selfish and only thinking about himself.
    Now my question is, and granted I am not as smart as the school board and why I must ask these question…..but if all this is related to the coaches being paid, as the school board would like everyone to believe, then why was the older quarterbacks parents who quit the team at this closed door meeting? He had chosen to quit and was no longer a part of the football team. So, why would the parents of a player who quit need to address the school board at all, or about the football program? If all this is related to coaches getting paid, then why quit the team at all? How does them getting paid to coach and help you, upset you enough to quit on your team? After all the season had started back in April/May for most, and apparently the older quarterback didn’t have any issues to quit back then. Why quit during the highlight of any High School athletes glory time of being in the playoffs?
    The older quarterback quits during the playoffs, his parents are at a closed-door meeting with the school board shortly thereafter, and then the coach resigns……. I’m really having a hard time grasping what the school board wants everyone to believe…….
    Now I pride myself on being a fact-based judgement person. I don’t judge until I know that the facts, and I don’t jump to concussion. I also believe that if someone has done something wrong, then suck it up, learn from it, deal with the consequences and move on. The problem that I am having with this story, is the facts are not supporting the outcome so far, and I hate escape goat situations, which is what this is feeling like. Our justice system is supposed to be based on the facts, not the allegations. In this situation it seems as thought that to be not true, and the outcome has been based on the allegations and not the facts, and possibly the wrong people are paying the price.
    Listed below are what has been discovered so far as facts to this story. As of right now these facts outweigh the theory, and do not support or justify the recent outcome.
    1. The older quarterback didn’t receive much playing time in the first playoff game on Oct 28, 2017. (Which made sense, because after all, you want to increase your chance of winning by putting the better of each position on the field during the playoffs.)
    2. The older quarterback then quit the team the following Monday Oct 30, 2017, right before the team was to play in the second round of the playoffs on Nov 4, 2017.
    3. His parents are at a CLOSED-door school board meeting shortly after the season had ended.
    4. The older quarterback has one more year of eligibility left to play football in high school at West
    5. Coach Hess abruptly resigns after this closed-door meeting, even though he had just finished having a winning season, matching the farthest in the playoffs that West has been able to reach. With an even more promising season as a team ahead of him. In other words, his resignation was not performance based.
    6. The numbers of parents at the OPEN-door meeting to support Coach Hess outweigh the number of parents at the CLOSED-door meeting by 15 to 1. That’s 1500%. Pictures that have been posted will support this.
    7. The statements made at the open-door meeting have been posted and available for anyone in the public to see.
    8. Nothing from or about the closed-door meeting has been made available for anyone to see.
    9. The school board has only offer up allegations of wrong doing as the justification behind the resignation of the coach. Not one fact or piece of evidence has been presented to support these allegations.

    Like I stated at the beginning of this post, I am not as educated as the members of the school board, so I am not saying that I am right in my judgement, but I do know how to read facts and come to a practical concussion, and I am social savvy enough to read between the lines, for what is not being told. As of right now I feel that the public is being miss-guide by the school board, and at a 15-1 ratio feel like the majority deserves the answers that the 1 already is aware of…..


  12. If this media site and the others keep the heat on them, someone is gonna crack. They will eventually give in. Sooner or later someone’s conscience or fear of being exposed for not doing the right thing is gonna get them. And there are alot of people being questioned publicly and privately right now. I’m waiting for a board member to break ranks and do the right thing. I have a tough time believing all of them could have been on “board” with this.

    Liked by 1 person

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