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Education

Claudia Manley releases statement regarding allegations she bullied student

District 86 Board of Education member Claudia Manley
District 86 Board of Education member Claudia Manley

HINSDALE – Saying they want the public to know the truth about Hinsdale District 86's ongoing investigation, Claudia and Noel Manley have sent out a public statement giving their version of the alleged bullying incident between Claudia Manley, a district board member, and a Hinsdale South High School student.

In the statement, the Manleys state that the March 12 incident outside Hinsdale South High School was blown out of proportion, while also questioning the veracity of the district's investigation process and asking for security footage of the incident to be released to the public.

"To be clear, Claudia Manley denies each and every allegation made by the student, or anyone else, of bullying and harassment," the statement said. "She made a maximum 60-second response to the student's choice to insert herself into an adult conversation."

Bruce Davidson, who sent the statement on behalf of the Manleys, said the Manleys are not available to further comment on their statement or to answer questions about it.

The Manleys also brought a suit to the DuPage County Circuit Court, asking the court to stay the investigation. The court denied the request Monday.

District 86 Superintendent Bruce Law said the district anticipates the investigation will be concluded by Thursday evening.

In their statement, the Manleys gave a detailed account of what they state happened March 12.

The statement said they were walking to the high school to watch their daughter perform in a play when they saw community member Mary Sullivan and student Marissa DuPont distributing fliers for political candidates.

The statement said the Manleys approached them to inform them that the campaign activity was against board policy.

The conversation lasted about five minutes, with most of the interaction being between the Manleys and Sullivan, according to the statement.

The statement said DuPont mostly circled the conversation and inserted herself once to say that it was her First Amendment right to campaign.

Claudia Manley told DuPont she was mistaken because the First Amendment does not include unauthorized political activity on school grounds, according to the statement.

DuPont said she had been asked to help with the leafleting, to which Manley said DuPont should have said "no" because the activity would be disrupting her classmates, according to the statement.

The statement said the Manleys later received three phone messages from DuPont's parents, demanding a return call or they would take "the next step."

The Manleys did not return the calls, after which an online petition started calling for Claudia Manley's resignation from the board, according to the statement.

The statement said none of the petition signers witnessed the incident, and those who passed by the conversation the night of the incident did not pay attention.

The statement said that the district administration has refused to release the security footage from the incident, which the Manleys believe will corroborate their version of the incident.

The statement also said the board was scheduled to vote on releasing the security footage during the April 27 meeting before the meeting was ended when half the attendees walked out.

Law said the district is not releasing the video to the public because there are legal standards at play with students being in the video.

He said that even if there were not legal issues, the video is evidence in an ongoing investigation.

In the statement, the Manleys said the board's investigation policy gives little guidance on how to properly conduct an investigation.

The statement said there are no safeguards to make sure witnesses are telling the truth and the findings will be objective.

Law said the district's attorney had been delaying the investigation because the board had said it wanted to give guidance on the investigation.

The board included discussion of the investigation on three meeting agendas in April. However, the April 6 meeting was cancelled, the board did not give direction at the April 13 meeting and the April 27 meeting ended prematurely.

After no such guidance was given, he said the attorney decided to move forward with the investigation.

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