Center for Open Government succeeds in taxpayer action to enforce school district anti-nepotism policies

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In Veazey v. Rich Township School District 227 (2016 IL App 1st 151795), decided July 20, 2016, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld Frederick Veazey's taxpayer standing to enforce the school district's anti-nepotism policy and paved the way to invalidate the Rich Township High School District's vote to approve reinstatement of a teacher, with back pay and fees, where the teacher's spouse cast the deciding favorable vote, defying the district's anti-nepotism policy.

Reversing the lower court's dismissal on Administrative Review Law grounds, the appellate court squarely upheld taxpayers' right to challenge the wrongful spending of public funds, here by procedurally invalid votes, and declared as well that anti-nepotism rules are enforceable, not mere "suggestions," and finding the taxpayer action as necessary, because otherwise there would be "no means ... to hold the Board, and its members, accountable for their conduct in acting contrary to [policies] governing their actions."

Clint Krislov, of KrislovLaw and the Founder/Director of the Center for Open Government Law Clinic at Chicago-Kent College of Law, commented: "Public bodies need to comply with their own rules for spending public monies. We're pleased that the court shared our concern that transparency and accountability are enforceable in spending public monies. The rule of law in Illinois has had a rare good day."

Krislov and the Center for Open Government have pursued taxpayer and citizen actions that have prevented felons from holding municipal office challenged the Chicago Parking Meter and Millennium Park lease concessions as well as other actions by school districts and other public bodies, under the Feedom of Information Act, the Open Meetings Act, and other transparency and public body accountability provisions.

Founded in 1888, Chicago-Kent College of Law is the law school of Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, a private, technology-focused, research university offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law.