Letter to the Editor: In the past month, the candidacy of Chala Holland has inspired many people to articulate differing versions of community values. What may be lacking is a sense of community history and a clear articulation of civic duty. Three years ago our community was rocked by scandal which resulted in national press coverage. School board members were called to task for their failure to act.
George Santayana’s observation that “those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it” should guide us as we attempt to fill the position of LFHS principal. In Illinois, a school board member is a fiduciary, a term which implies a relationship founded on trust and confidence. Although school board members may typically think of their fiduciary responsibilities in terms of tax dollars spent, the trust and confidence of the public is equally important.
The following facts are now clear. As early as May 15, a community member with an interest in the principal search sought and obtained online information relating to the background of Chala Holland. Contrary to the implications of Michael Simeck’s email to parents, such interest was neither improper nor illegal. Holland’s name then surfaced on social media.
In his capacity as President of the LFHS District 115 Board of Education (“Board”), Reese Marcusson advised Superintendent Simeck of the “leak” of Holland’s name and provided Mr. Simeck with a précis of what Holland had posted online. Twenty-four hours after the parent obtained online information about Holland, Holland’s consulting web site, her blog, and other writings had been “scrubbed” from the web.
The “scrubbing” prompted a concerned community member to utilize archiving tools in order to extract the deleted information, which revealed Holland’s views about education. Extracts from the “scrubbed” archive of Holland’s writings were then posted in local social media.
The “scrubbing” has caused many community members to question the involvement and motivations of the Board, the Administration and the candidate in manipulating online information. Seen in the most positive light, the “scrubbing” episode reflects poor judgment. In a more negative sense, there may be adverse legal consequences for some.
How can the newly elected Board parse through the many questions and scenarios implicated by this unfortunate series of events? The answer is simple. Become informed and remember that the sin of omission is often as fatal as the sin of commission. The Board is not only a fiduciary but also a check on the power of the District 115 Administration. That is why, by law, the Board must approve all Administration contracts.
In order to assist the Board with an understanding of the facts involved, I understand two Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests have been sent to LFHS District 115 (“115”). Lisa Madigan, The Attorney General for the State of Illinois has stated “open and honest government is the cornerstone of American democracy, and it can only be achieved through the free exchange of information between government and citizens…the FOIA is a pro disclosure law embedded in the fundamental principal that citizens have a right to access public documents of their government, while balancing the government necessary ability to conduct the business of the people.” The District has failed to provide information requested by the FOIA prior to the public.
The information sought in the FOIA requests should assist you with finding the facts to make an informed and prudent decision regarding Chala Holland. I urge you to ask the District to fully comply and provide the information requested. Remember the stress placed upon our community when a prior Board acted prior to becoming fully informed of the facts.
I urge the District 115 Board to review Ms. Holland’s educational qualifications, as well as the facts gleaned from the FOIA requests and consider the lessons of the past prior to casting a vote in this matter.
Thank you for your time and dedication to our community.
(Letter originally sent to D-115 BOE)
This Letter to the Editor is from JoAnn Lucas of Lake Forest. Letters to the Editor represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of Daily North Shore.