There is something seriously strange going on in our district: a deliberate and consistent effort to obfuscate and deny access to public financial records, email communications, curriculum articles, etc.
There is no way around it. How can we trust our children to administrative bureaucrats who are doing everything in their power to conceal daily operations inside our classrooms and district offices?
Let us begin by emphasizing how crucial public transparency is to our work.
Public Transparency is foundational to our work.
When we at Parents Care provide you with the information you need to stay informed, it results from tireless work digging deeper into district data and deciphering exactly what is happening.
That requires our public bodies- the school districts- to be transparent.
When they are not, we must pressure them to be transparent.
When they refuse to be transparent, we are in the dark, and so are YOU.
Early in our operation, we submitted Freedom of Information Act Requests to Districts 67 & 115, believing that was the best way to begin learning about what was happening within our schools and district offices.
Unfortunately, we soon discovered that Districts 67 & 115 did not want to cooperate with the FOIA requests.
They would claim that the requests were too voluminous, too broad, or did not have such records (even when we suspected they did).
Eventually, Superintendent Mathew Montgomery admonished the community for using FOIA in an email to the community.
He alluded that it was making the job of Chief Business Officer Jeniffer Hermes too difficult.
We began to feel that the FOIA process was a dead end, and admittedly, we were frustrated for several reasons:
1. The information and data they are concealing is not theirs.
2. Let us repeat: THE INFORMATION AND DATA THEY ARE CONCEALING IS NOT THEIRS.
It is PUBLIC information and data! YOUR data and information.
We are not dealing with a private corporation, but a PUBLIC BODY funded by YOUR TAX DOLLARS.
3. Every day, we receive emails asking questions about the district and soliciting our help.
The obfuscation by Matthew Montgomery and Jen Hermes makes helping our community members extremely difficult, and for this, we apologize.
So, we revised our approach and thought contacting the administration directly (without using FOIA) would be better received.
It has not, and they have been even more reluctant to share PUBLIC information with us.
90% of the time, they ignore our emails.
When we press them to respond, they reply that they have nothing to say.
Several times, they have asked us to use the FOIA process...
You can see where this is going...
We would like you to know that we are doing everything we can to obtain the information required to answer your questions- including consulting with our attorneys- and we will have an update for you next week with more details on our progress.
On behalf of Mathew Montgomery and Jennifer Hermes, we apologize for their flippant attitude towards our community's efforts to access public information.
We thought the appointment of Jordan Salus as FOIA officer would be a step in the right direction. After all, having a taxpayer-funded position dedicated solely to answering FOIAs would mean we would finally get the information we sought, correct?
Boy, were we wrong...
We honestly do not understand what they are hiding.
If it's just laziness, that is even more frustrating because we know how hard you work to pay the tax dollars that fund our schools... We're just asking them to work half as hard to get the public the information that is rightfully theirs!
We know that our community deserves better, and while we do not expect an apology from them for their mistreatment of the community, we feel that we could have done a better job of holding them responsible for the offices the community hired them to fill.
We also apologize that the Board of Education has not done a better job holding their employees responsible.
We understand this is unacceptable, and we have written them several times but have yet to receive a response.
You deserve better. We all do.
Please stay tuned for an update as we seek a resolution.
Thank you for all you do
Thank you for your continued support,
Parents Care of Lake Forest & Lake Bluff
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