GOV, Yarbrough gets reform bill passed
From a Yarbrough press release:
SPRINGFIELD – State Rep. Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood) passed legislation out of the House reducing potential conflicts of interest for school board members voting on referendum and petition questions by shifting responsibility for hearing challenges on these issues from education officers electoral boards to county electoral boards.
"The public has a right to expect that the process used to decide important educational issues is fair," said Yarbrough. "This legislation reduces the potential for conflicts of interest that could negatively impact votes on questions that determine the future of our schools."
Under current law, education officers electoral boards are formed to hear objections to placing school board candidates or referendum questions on ballots. The boards are made up of the presiding officer of the school board, the secretary of the school board and the school board member with the longest term of continuous service.
Under this system, the same school officers who initially vote on a question also review challenges to the same question. Petitions with an insufficient number of signatures or with invalid signatures may be challenged. Successful challenges prevent candidates and referendums from appearing on ballots.
House Bill 5001 improves the review process by eliminating education officers electoral boards and requiring county officers electoral boards to hear challenges on referendum and petition questions for school districts and community colleges.
Yarbrough cited an incident in Proviso Township as one of many examples demonstrating the need for a less biased review process. After the District 209 Board voted in favor of issuing $40 million in bonds, residents petitioned for a referendum. The educational officers electoral board, comprised of three members who had voted on the bond issue, determined the petitions did not contain the required number of valid signatures for the issue to appear on the ballot.
"Most school officials make fair, informed decisions," said Yarbrough. "However, we need to make the review process more evenhanded and eliminate any appearance of impropriety."
House Bill 5001 now advances to the Senate for further consideration. For more information, please call Rep. Yarbrough at (708) 615-1747.