Censure of Dianne Barrett Approved by D86 Board
Board President Dennis Brennan said there is no punishment attached to the censure; it simply announces that the board disagrees with the actions of Barrett when she accused board members of bond fraud in February.
The District 86 Board of Education voted Monday night to censure board member Dianne Barrett for independently reaching out to authorities in February regarding the legality of more than $15 million in working cash bonds approved by the board that month.
Board President Dennis Brennan and board members Kay Gallo, DeeDee Gorgol, Michael Kuhn, and Jennifer Planson voted in favor of the censure resolution at the board's meeting at Hinsdale Central. Richard Skoda voted against the censure and Barrett abstained.
Brennan said the censure has no punishment attached to it; it’s simply an announcement by the board that they disagree with the actions of a board member.
“That’s all you can do,” he said. “It makes a record of it, that you disagree with the action.”
The censure resolution—which can be found here on the district's website—says Barrett's email violated the code of conduct for board members as set forth by the Illinois Association of School Board (IASB). The resolution says Barrett made "false allegations" against fellow board members.
"Be it resolved by the Board of Education," the resolution reads, "that Board Member Barrett’s Complaint regarding the action by the Board ... is baseless, destructive, divisive, and damaging to the Board of Education and Hinsdale Township High School District 86, unworthy of a member of the Board of Education of Hinsdale Township High School District 86, and therefore appropriate for official censure by the Board of Education."
Skoda reiterated his statements against the censure from the board’s April 23 discussion of the resolution.
“It’s just a waste of time and, even worse, of taxpayer money,” Skoda said, referring to any man-hours that might have been or will be dedicated to the resolution.
Gallo first brought forward the idea to censure Barrett at the board’s March 5 meeting. She said it was important to react to Barrett’s Feb. 14 email to the offices of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and DuPage County State’s Attorney Bob Berlin, in which Barrett accused five board members, Superintendent Dr. Nick Wahl, and others of knowingly perpetrating bond fraud on Feb. 6, when the board finalized the sale of approximately $18 million in working-cash bonds.
About $15.4 million worth of proceeds from those bonds is slated to be transferred to the capital projects fund.
After getting a response to the accusation from the district’s attorneys, Madigan’s office said in a March 19 email to Barrett that it did not anticipate any investigation of the district at that time.
Gallo said Monday of the censure, “To say that we’re not going to be [incorrectly] accused of fraudulent activity, I think it’s necessary.”
Barrett had no comment during or after the meeting regarding the censure.
The five board members who were accused of fraud by Barrett were the same five who voted for the censure Monday.
Barrett said in her email to authorities that she believed bond fraud had taken place because the bonds were sold as working-cash bonds despite it being common knowledge that a majority of the proceeds would go towards funding air conditioning at Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South, as well as other capital projects.
Barrett's email also called for an investigation into whether it's legal for the district to issue working-cash bonds at a time when the working-cash fund contains approximately $7.3 million, which she thought was a "more than sufficient" amount.