DeKALB – DeKalb businessman Jim Mason has dropped his lawsuit that alleged a higher number of students who attend class in DeKalb School District 428 don’t live in the district.
Mason announced on his radio show Thursday his decision to end his years-long legal fight against the district, but isn’t backing down from his claims that the enrollment of up to 1,500 out-of-district students was causing inflated property taxes within the district.
“It’s over and put to rest,” Mason said Friday about the lawsuit, which was dismissed by a federal judge in September.
“There’s nothing else to talk about, it’s personal,” Mason said. “The deal is that everybody knows what’s going on in this town and the state of Illinois doesn’t want to do anything about it.”
In September, Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois said the federal court did not have jurisdiction over taxing disputes within Illinois. Taxation and its enforcement is left up to the states under the Constitution, she wrote.
In response, Mason had planned to file an appeal with the judge to ask her to reconsider the case, but said he does not plan to do that anymore. When asked if he plans to take the lawsuit to DeKalb County court instead, Mason said he had no comment.
Pallmeyer also ordered Mason to pay the district’s legal fees.
Mason claimed in the lawsuit that a District 428 administrator coached out-of-district families on how to get their children into DeKalb schools after an August 2017 district board meeting.
In the days after that meeting, “students were observed sitting on the porches of vacant homes in DeKalb, being picked up by vehicles bearing out of town stickers in their windows and some were walking the streets as late as 7 p.m. before a driver would come pick them up,” according to the lawsuit.
In response, District 428 hired a private investigation firm, Channahon-based National Investigations Inc., to investigate residency of students. After investigating about 20% of the about 6,500 students in the district, the firm reported it had identified about 60 students whose residency was in question.
At a District 428 Board meeting Sept. 17, Mason appealed to the board to allow him to hire a firm to redo the investigation with his own money. He asked the district to reimburse him the cost if the investigation found more than 7% of students were living outside of the district.