Our View: Kudos to D-427 for addressing error

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 5:30 a.m.CDT

The District 427 school board did the right thing Tuesday in calling another meeting to approve a new contract with its teachers’ union.

The board’s last meeting to approve the four-year contract, held at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, was done without providing notice to the Daily Chronicle. Under the Illinois Open Meetings act, public bodies must give notice of all special meetings to news media that file an annual request for notice, which the Daily Chronicle does so that it can inform readers.

This was not the first time that the Open Meetings Act has been violated in DeKalb County, and unfortunately, it probably will not be the last.

The major difference here is that the District 427 school board members acted quickly to address their mistake by calling another meeting for 7:30 a.m. Friday at the administration building, 245 W. Exchange St. in Sycamore. The agenda for the meeting is nearly identical – with the exception of an added public comment period – to the meeting they held last week.

These matters haven’t always been resolved so quickly. A 2010 case where the DeKalb Library Board improperly voted in a closed meeting to buy the old DeKalb Clinic property dragged on for months before a settlement finally was reached. In the meantime, the story remained the topic of news stories and opinion pieces, and public perception soured. Eventually, the library’s plan to buy the clinic property fell apart for several reasons.

Violating rules designed to protect the public’s right to know about the actions of its governments can be damaging to the public’s trust in the institution.

That should not be the case with Sycamore District 427, where officials admitted their mistake and showed respect for the public’s right to know by moving to address it. District officials, including Superintendent Kathy Countryman, acknowledged there had been an oversight in notifying the Daily Chronicle about their meeting. They did not ask a lawyer to come up with a convoluted reason why they had not violated the law.

They’re simply going to hold another meeting, presumably take another vote, and allow all of us to move forward.

With that, the story ends. School officials should be commended for acting promptly to address their oversight.

We look forward to continuing to cover issues that matter to taxpayers and residents of District 427, including those who are curious about the details of the soon-to-be re-approved teachers’ contract.

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