On Feb 22nd, Parents Care Director Frank McCormick discovered that District 115 engaged Delack Media Group to help film and produce a series of pro-bond referendum videos.
We reviewed Delack Media Group’s website and discovered they are a video production company "trusted by the world's top brands," including corporate behemoths such as Coca-Cola, Google, KraftHeinz, McDonald's, Walgreens, and TikTok.
How much money did the District 115 administration divert from the classroom to produce these high-quality pro-bond videos?
That was the question our Board President, Jeff Brincat, sought to discover. So, on behalf of parents and taxpayers, he sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents and contracts related to Delack Media Group.
What happened next surprised us.
At the legal deadline for response, the District’s Operations Director, Jennifer Hermes, demanded a response extension date of March 9th, citing the need for an attorney to review the request.
More time? This seemed unusual, given that the district had already taken the maximum allowed time to issue a response to our FOIA. So, we consulted with FOIA attorneys and were informed that no legal exemption could possibly apply to a communications vendor contract.
With mail voting for the bond starting shortly, we wondered: could these requests for more time be construed as an attempt to delay public knowledge until after the election?
While only Ms. Hermes knows the real reason for the extension request, we were uncomfortable with the very real possibility that the public might not receive information that would help inform their vote until after the election.
Parents, the documents requested in our FOIA request are public documents; as an American, you have the right to see them. After all, government transparency is a foundation upon which our republic stands.
Obstruction of the FOIA process demonstrates a disregard for the public's right to government transparency and calls into question Ms. Hermes’ ability to fairly and impartially execute her responsibilities as the District’s FOIA Officer.
As such, we call upon the superintendent and the board to restore public trust by removing Ms. Hermes from her current position as FOIA officer and providing the public with the information requested in our FOIA request.
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