Published May 21, 2015
D86 board finds Manley 'rude' but not bully in South incident
By Ken Knutson
The Hinsdale High School District 86 Board determined that board member Claudia Manley failed to demonstrate respect or civility in her interaction with a Hinsdale South student over distributing campaign materials on school property, but the findings stopped short of pronouncing Manley guilty of bullying and harassment.
At its May 18 board meeting, the board voted 4-2-1 to accept the recommendation of the uniform grievance committee regarding the March 12 incident. Manley and board member Ed Corcoran opposed the measure, while newly installed board member Ralph Beardsley abstained.
According to the findings, Manley and her husband were walking into Hinsdale South to see the school play when they confronted Dupont and adult Mary Sullivan outside the school handing out campaign literature for a slate of school board candidates.
A report from an independent reviewer of the incident found that Manley scolded Marissa for the activity with language that was “mean-spirited and rude” but not consistent with “a pattern of harassment.”
Manley’s voting record aligned her with a competing slate of candidates in the April 7 election.
Board member Ed Corcoran questioned the appropriateness of the board taking action on the matter.
“I believe that we should be dismissing this case,” he said. “I don’t believe that our school district is the place or the forum for these types of hearings, and I don’t believe that the process under the uniform grievance procedure is one that actually is going to get out the truth.”
Board member Bill Carpenter disagreed, saying the committee did the job is was designed to do.
“It’s outlined that the (uniform grievance process) is within our boundaries to enforce and to have the ad hoc committee look at this particular situation,” he said. “I think in an effort to get closure, I think we should move forward with this.”
Terry Hodges, attorney for the district, said the uniform grievance process is “likely adopted by 95 plus percent of school districts in the state.”
“It is a simple fact-finding procedure whose purpose is aimed at resolving disputes that arise between students, parents, school officials and community members,” she said. “It is a fact-finding procedure that the court here in DuPage County has already told us that we are within our rights to proceed under.”
After closed session, the board voted to dismiss complaints that had been filed against Law and Planson regarding the distribution of campaign materials on school grounds. The vote was 5-2 to dismiss the grievance against Law, with Corcoran and Manley dissenting, and 5-1-1 to dismiss the complaint against Planson, with Manley dissenting and Planson abstaining. Subsequently, Carpenter said he was dropping complaints that he had filed related to the same issue.