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Sex offender fliers spark censure: A board member was chided for distributing confidential information.

10-24-2006 Illinois:
MACHESNEY PARK — Harlem School Board members chided Gloria Maloney for passing out fliers at Harlem High School two weeks ago, alerting parents that a sex offender may be there watching her child perform in a choir concert.

The news of sex offender Lori Lynn Letsinger, the 46-year-old ex-wife of a former board member, attending an on-campus event was decided in closed session, and the School Board censured board member Maloney at Monday’s meeting on grounds that she failed to respect “the confidentiality of privileged information.” The censure, which has no real effect, was an official statement by the board saying she violated the board’s code of ethics.

But Maloney’s actions appear to be legal. Board members have the right to release information from closed-session meetings, said Scott Sievers, an assistant attorney general. Citing this, Maloney requested that the censure be removed from the agenda earlier in the meeting, but her motion was defeated.

Most board members were unsympathetic to Maloney’s arguments that she acted ethically, saying Letsinger’s child was devastated.

“You are talking about a minor child who was traumatized by your actions,” board member Patti Lawrence told Maloney.

“This didn’t have anything to do with the child,” Maloney replied, “It had to do with the parent.”

Rodney Scott and Maloney voted against the resolution. Board members Sandi Johnson, Kathy Geyer and Scott declined to comment after the meeting.

Maloney has stood behind her actions, saying somebody needed to inform the public of the board’s closed-session decision granting a sex offender permission to attend a school function. The state’s attorney general’s office and other experts on the Open Meetings Act agree with her, and they believe the closed-session decision was illegal.

Harlem parent Kristy Fields, who had pondered filing a civil suit against the School District for violating the Open Meetings Act, said the board is misplacing the blame.

“This board is very quick about pointing the finger at somebody else,” Fields said. “What about them?” ..more.. by Zack Creglow

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