Lawsuit doesn't consider school board realities

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Noel Kuriakos says he and Taxpayers United of America are "in good faith defending their Constitutional rights" by bringing a lawsuit against District 97 and each of its school board members. He wants to overturn the referendum results. He also asks the court to order school board members to pay his litigation costs and attorneys' fees "not from public funds" but out of their own pockets.

Is that supposed to make us feel better about this lawsuit?

Consider the lives of Oak Park school board members: They devote hundreds and hundreds of hours of their time to public service to our community, doing their best to educate our children with the available resources.

And for what? It's a volunteer position.

Criticism comes with the job. That's appropriate, since school board members are accountable to us, the taxpayers of Oak Park (not of all America—just Oak Park).

But Mr. Kuriakos has taken his criticism several steps too far. His lawsuit alleges that the board members, "knowing that the ballot language was misleading ... intentionally proceeded with the referendum using the misleading language."

In fact, as Mr. Kuriakos knows, school board members relied on the expertise of one of the leading school finance firms in drafting the ballot language. They asked the firm to check and re-check that language. What more could you expect? Imagine if they had ignored the experts' advice and instead proceeded with their own layman's concept of what the ballot ought to say. Would that fulfill their duty of care to the public?

Mr. Kuriakos, after your lawsuit is dismissed, I suggest you run for school board.

To the school board members you have sued: Thank you for your service.

Pam McLean Meyerson
Oak Park

Reader Comments

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Fred Hayek from Winnetka  

Posted: May 13th, 2011 1:33 PM

The board did follow the letter of the law, but broke the spirt of the law. They knew the math was flawed, but chose to use langauge to hide the truth. A few of the comments are inane and condescending. Good luck getting a meeting with Noel, he's smart enough to know not to waste his time with morons like some of you. If he's correct, can I assume you will applaud him for his bold stance? I would guess not. FH

seriously... from op  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 2:27 PM

I completely disagree with the lawsuit and Mr. Kuriakos. But the School Board's failure to be perfectly clear on the ballot is what's causing this -- they got legal advice but failed in their moral obligation. They should have anticipated the possibility of a legal challenge from SOMEONE, and here it a taxing body, if you're less than completely above board, this what should be expected.

Another Oak Park Mom  

Posted: May 5th, 2011 7:29 AM

Does anyone know Mr. Kuriakos personally? Can a meeting be held to talk to him reasonably? He clearly has an ax to grind, perhaps if folks sat down with him and heard him out this circus could be prevented. Kind of like EEOC mediation - it is so much better and healthier than actual trials.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 2:02 PM

@WTF-OP: The Board in fact did get a second opinion from another law firm. That opinion was presented at the following Board meeting. The advice of the second law firm was that the Board's initial legal counsel from Chapman was correct and that they should stick with the ballot language.

Jassen Strokosch from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 1:57 PM

@Oak Park Mom Three - we are all for clear language on the ballot. Thankfully, the Illinois State Leg moved swiftly after this elections and made changes to the legislation that dictates what language is on the ballot. It passed the House and should pass the Senate this session. That should solve this problem moving forward which is what I think everyone wants.

Oak Park Mom three  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 1:12 PM

Their intent was to minimize the cost and to win the refendum. If they wanted to clearly communicate it they could have had the actual number on the referendum. Was it legal? Yes. Doesn't make it right. Say the Tuberculosis district goes for a tax increase using C&C. Are you involved? do you have TB, will you go to a TB forum.. on their email list? Bottom line a voter should be able to read the ballot and clearly know what is being asked and at what cost. You're against that?

Oak Park Mom too from Oak Park  

Posted: May 4th, 2011 12:45 PM

Sorry WTF-OP. The board members clearly and repeatedly explained how they came to the figures they did and how the taxes would actually be calculated. They acted reasonably and in accordance with the law. Opponents of the referendum lost fair and square, but they lost. You don't like it? Move.


Posted: May 4th, 2011 10:01 AM

WTF-OP...maybe you should run for school board too since you seem to have it all figured out. I'm sure you both would do a much better job of not "wasting" our taxes on something so non-essential as the education of our children. Oh...and then you could be personally accountable too for any lawsuits that might come your way in your volunteer position.


Posted: May 3rd, 2011 11:30 PM

The board members should have done what is right. Plain & simple. Hiring sleazy lawyers & hiding behind legal lingo is the easy way out. They suspected something was wrong but gambled on the bad advise. Why didn't they get a different law firm? Whey you go to the doctor and you hear something that is not completely correct, you get a second opinion! How many thousands of $$ has Chapman received from board decisions, especially those related to DSEB bonds? There is an ncestuous relationship.

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