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District 86 votes to settle lawsuit with former board member Dianne Barrett

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013 11:31 a.m. CDT

HINSDALE – The Hinsdale District 86 Board of Education voted Monday to end the three-year litigation between the district and Dianne Barrett with the end result being improved access to necessary information for board members, and a limit to further litigation costs for the district’s taxpayers, according to a news release from District 86.

Board president Claudia Manley said the settlement should put the three-year case behind the district and minimize any further legal costs. Manley said the settlement awards no monetary compensation to Barrett as she did not seek any, according to the release.

During the meeting, Manley noted that the policy revisions that will be made to replace Board Policy 2:225 will remove restrictions from board members’ access to internal district information, while maintaining mandated protection of student and other confidential records. Manley emphasized that this was an important step in guaranteeing that elected representatives on the board will have the necessary information to ensure vendors and contractors remain accountable to the public.

The litigation was initiated by Barrett while she served as a member of the District 86 Board of Education. Her complaint alleged board policy violated her right, as a member, to access recordings of closed session board meetings and certain special education litigation settlement documents.

Although the board’s settlement now acknowledges agreement with Barrett's contention that those types of documents should be more accessible to district decision-makers, Barrett will not be granted access to the items because she no longer serves as a member on the District 86 Board.

Instead, the board has agreed to have a designated member review those records to ensure they reveal no improprieties. The agreement provides that current and future members will not be denied access to such information.

There is no agreement to pay the other party’s fees, although the lawyers may file for fees. In the event Barrett’s attorneys petition for fees, the district will oppose the petition. The agreement authorizes the parties’ attorneys to attain approval of the agreement by the Circuit Court. The public will be notified of any hearing on the expected motion for approval, according to the release.

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