The issue of public business being conducted through private email accounts has been in the news a lot the past few months. It’s an issue that seems to be popping up at all levels of government.
The BGA recently wrote another article on the subject as the issue is in the spotlight again. (Article found here)
This article personally adding to my questions of David C Stachura, and Patricia Godziszewski’s possible use of personal email accounts to conduct public business, and then refusing to share that information with the public. If this was/is actually happening was it done to circumvent the F.O.I.A. system, or just simply to hold more private conversations. Email corispondance among board members in an of itself is not illegal as long as the members respect open meeting law, but refusing to share those emails because the discussions were never meant to be public is the real issue at hand. This is also not the first time these questions have been raised in Schiller Park at the School Board level.
On September 15 I submitted the following request
I am requesting under F.O.I.A.
A digital copy of the resignation letter of Ancel & Glink that was sent to David C Stachura, and Patricia M Godziszewski’s personal email accounts in June of 2014.
Second, if the above requested letter exists I am requesting digital copies of any other School District Business that was conducted using those same personal email accounts during the 2014-2015 School Year.
The letter of resignation would seem to set the standard that those personal email accounts it was sent to had been in the last used for public business and should be open and subject to F.O.I.A.
James J Tompson
I posted earlier about the response I received to the first half of the request. found below
It is my understanding that School District 81 of Schiller Park issues official email addresses to all School Board members, and therefore any School Board member would have no reason to use personal email accounts for official business. Additionally, if all official dealings involving official school business were conducted using those officially assigned email accounts why would a law firm representing School District 81 of Schiller park even have the personal email addresses of the School Board President, and Vice President to begin with?
When I received the first response, an extension was given for the remaining information, and on October 1st the final response was issued. Reason being that the district had no further responsive documents, but I can guess it was an effort by David Stachura and Patricia Godziszewski to avoid the question all together. It is clear that at least once these two individuals received and conducted public business using their personal emails, and do to a tremendous lack of trust by an ever growing portion of this community it is my opinion that information is being withheld. Are they avoiding disclosure for fear of what it will reveal?
Final response to my request. Found below
You will notice in the response that Patricia Godziszewski did not feel the need to respond to the request. I realize she is no longer a publicly elected official, but during the dates of my request she still had an obligation to the public, and my interest in how she carried out that obligation are still a matter of public record so why the delay tactic?
David Stachura did concede that the resignation letter was the only item, but I find this (in my opinion) to be highly unlikely. Again why would such a large and official organization such as Ancil Glink suddenly decide to use the personal emails of School Board members if this had not already been done in their dealings with David Stachura and Patricia Godziszewski. Yes it is possible that it was a one time event, but to me a highly unlikely possibility.
No answers to my concerns were found in the response to my request, and to me it only strengthens what so many already think. David C Stachura, and Patricia Godziszewski in my opinion have used those personal emails in many instances, and are refusing to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.
I do also interpret this response as a denial of my request, but not by members of the staff of School District 81, but by David C Stachura, and Patricia M Godziszewski. I feel that it is my right, and my duty to follow up with the Public Access Counselor’s office of the Illinois Attorney General.
The F.O.I.A. system was put in place to assist the citizens of the United States of America in their efforts to be informed, and involved in the day to day business of our government at all levels. It is one of the many checks and balances put in place to help us make informed decisions. Limiting our access to public record only degrades the public trust, and keeps the population blinded to the truths that some elected officials attempt to hide.