A candidate for the River Forest District 90 school board who claimed last week that he was bullied out of the race has resigned as a substitute teacher in the district amid allegations that he misused a parent database. District officials said they’re currently investigating the matter.
Scott Hall announced in a Facebook post on March 25 that he would be suspending his campaign. Election Day is April 6.
“I, my family, my friends and even local businesses with which I associate have been repeatedly threatened, harassed and disparaged,” he wrote.
A group called Citizens of River Forest are attempting to get the D90 school board to “denounce candidate intimidation and abhorrent behavior of citizens,” according to a change.org petition they created last week.
Parents volunteer to add their contact information to the directory, which gives them access to the contact information of other district parents who opt-into AtoZ on the condition that they only use it to communicate about school-related matters.
Dawn Simmons, District 90’s communications director, confirmed last week that Hall resigned as a substitute teacher on March 22. On March 19, the district received a letter from several parents complaining about the email, which Wednesday Journal obtained last week.
One email, sent from email@example.com, announces a Zoom meet and greet scheduled for March 17, along with statements explaining Hall’s candidacy.
At the bottom of the email, in small fonts, a disclaimer points out that “all advertising and campaign marketing is paid for by Friends of Scott Hall River Forest which files quarterly with the IL State Board of Elections.
“Emails were compiled from publicly available sources deemed to be reliable. If you are no longer a resident of River Forest please disregard this email as it is not a solicitation for your vote.”
In their letter to the district, the parents claimed that, if Hall did obtain their email contacts from AtoZ and were using them for campaign purposes, the usage would constitute a violation of D90’s Instructional Technology/Student Data Privacy Resource Guide, which states that the district will take steps to ensure that third parties like political campaigns comply with laws and regulations concerning student data privacy.
The letter also claimed that such use would also violate board policy, AtoZ’s terms of service, and a range of state and federal statutes.
In a letter to one of the parents dated March 26 and obtained by Wednesday Journal, D90 Supt. Ed Condon acknowledged that the district launched an investigation into Hall’s use of the AtoZ Directory.
In the letter, Condon explains that, as part of their investigation, district officials scheduled an interview with Hall to ask him questions about his use of AtoZ and to allow him an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations, but he declined to participate, suspended his school board candidacy and resigned his position as a volunteer substitute teacher.
According to Facebook posts and sources within D90, Hall may have become a substitute teacher within the district after he launched his campaign.
Condon explained that, in order to prevent any potential abuse of technology that the district provides, officials are reviewing the district’s policies and procedures related to student data.
As of March 30, the change.org petition had garnered 197 signatures of its 200 signature goal. Hall’s Facebook post announcing his withdrawal from the race doesn’t mention any specific examples of harassment and bullying.
According to some residents, however, the complaints stem, in part, from threatening letters some of Hall’s supporters said they received that make threatening accusations against Hall and that assail his character.
Multiple attempts to reach Hall by phone this week were unsuccessful. During an interview last week, Simmons denounced all forms of harassment.
With Hall out of the race, there are now four remaining candidates for the four open seats on the school board.