Center for Open Government Blog
Voting in the Dark: Open Government
Under Siege in
Chicago Public Schools Elections for Local
School Council Members
June 1, 2012
When you enter the voting booth, how do you select who will receive your vote if you have no information about any of the candidates? Due to last-minute changes in Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) disclosure policy, members of the public were unable to obtain information as basic as the names of CPS’s Local School Council candidates prior to the April 2012 elections. Local School Councils (LSC) are elected bodies that play a critical role in Chicago’s public schools, including approving budgets and evaluating the school principals.
State law and CPS’s own policies require transparency. The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compels government bodies such as CPS to provide the public with requested information so they may “fulfill their duties of discussing public issues fully and freely, making informed political judgments and monitoring government to ensure that it is being conducted in the public interest.” CPS’ own election guide requires schools to provide candidate information to anyone who requests to review these materials prior to a LSC election. Yet, CPS, citing privacy concerns, made an eleventh hour change to their own well-established policy which denied access to individuals requesting to review the LSC candidate information in person at the schools.
CPS could have simply redacted the private information in the LSC materials (such as Social Security numbers) and made available the rest of the file for public review. The Center for Open Government, Welles Park Bulldog and others urged CPS to do so in order to safeguard any confidential information and provide open access to candidate information. Instead, starting in March 2012, CPS reversed its own policy, requiring anyone seeking information about LSC candidates to file a public records (FOIA) request with the central CPS office. Given the short period before the April election and the typically long response time by CPS for public records requests, this “solution” essentially prevented the public and media from obtaining important information about LSC candidates before the election.
CPS trampled on fundamental principles of democratic government by placing unnecessary barriers to the dissemination of LSC candidate information. Citizens were forced to go into the voting booth completely in the dark to select the individuals making policy decisions about their children’s education. CPS must comply with its own policies and the FOIA law for future elections. CPS needs to assure the public that future LSC candidate information is readily available to anyone who wants it.
CPS needs to know that we want the lights back on in the voting booth.
Prepared by Matthew Kennedy (IIT Chicago-Kent College
of Law, J.D. candidate) and Natalie Brouwer Potts (Executive
Director, Center for Open Government, IIT Chicago-Kent College
LEGAL EXTERNSHIP PROGRAM
A2P Legal Externship is a 4-credit hour non-graded program
which enables you to extern with a supervising attorney
in a wide variety of legal areas – private or public, civil
or criminal. Externships are available for the Fall, Spring
and Summer semesters. Some public sector externships enable
you to obtain a 711 license and appear in court.
To become a good lawyer and to supplement what you learn
in the classroom, you need practical experience in real-world
legal work. Most students aren't fortunate enough to receive
a paid clerking position — or even a volunteer opportunity
— that teaches what they want to learn. LEP presents a unique
and important opportunity to gain exposure to an area of
the law in which you are interested and helps you significantly
broaden your future employment opportunities.
Students interested in civil law may extern in a wide variety
of places. For example, some have externed at the City of
Chicago Corporation Counsel's Office, Office of the Illinois
Attorney General, Illinois Commerce Commission, Immigration
Court of the U.S. Department of Justice, Internal Revenue
Service, and Environmental Protection Agency, as well approved
in-house corporate legal counsel.
Students interested in criminal law have externed at the
US Attorney's Office, the Office of the Federal Defender,
and at the offices of the State's Attorney and Public Defender
in Cook County as well as the surrounding counties.
Information and application packets for Fall 2012 are available
line as well as in front of the Spakateria, in Career
Services Office, and in Room 600 Law Offices reception area.
If you would like more information, please check the Externship
web page: http://www.kentlaw.iit.edu/academics/jd-program/practical-skills-training/externships/students.
ENVIRONMENTAL LAW EXTERNSHIP
Part of For-Credit Fall 2012 Legal Externship Program (4 credit
Meckler Bulger Tilson Marick & Pearson LLP
Environmental/Litigation Practice Group
The extern will be involved in legal research, fact investigations,
drafting memoranda and legal documents, and assisting attorneys
in case strategy and development.
Minimum Eligibility Requirements
• Enrolled in Program in Environmental and Energy Law (PEEL)
• Rising 3L – Grade Point Average 3.0
• Successful completion of law school courses Environmental
Law I and II
• Familiarity with CERCLA, RCRA, Clean Water Act, Clean
Air Act, and administrative procedure
• Undergraduate science degree preferred
Application Process/Deadline Date
Please submit via email a cover letter, resume, law school
transcript, and writing sample to Brett Heinrich at email@example.com
by Friday, June 29, 2012.
If you have any questions, contact Profess Gross at (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are selected, please notify Prof. Gross to register.
We are pleased to announce that Aaron Davis and Michael
Johnson have been selected as the 2012 recipients of The
Fleischman Family Award for Excellence in Criminal Clinic.
The prize includes a $1,250 cash award to be made to each
Brothers Jack and Sidney Z. Fleischman, both members of
the Class of 1987, established this prize to recognize outstanding
second or third year Chicago Kent students who have excelled
in the Criminal Section of the Chicago-Kent Law Offices
program. Specifically, the Award is to be made at the end
of the academic year to the students who best achieve two
hallmarks of excellence: zealous advocacy on behalf of clients
of the Law Offices' Criminal Law Clinic, and dedication
to the Criminal Defense Litigation Program. In establishing
the Award, Jack and Sidney recognize the many contributions
made to Chicago's legal community by their grandfather,
the Honorable Phillip A. Fleischman, Cook County Circuit
Court, and their father, Marshall A. Fleischman, Esq.
Jack and Sidney are partners in their own criminal defense
firm, Fleischman & Fleischman, in Fort Lauderdale and
Palm Beach, Florida. Jack began his career with the Public
Defender's Office in Palm Beach County. Sid worked with
the Cook County and Broward County State's Attorney Offices
before entering private practice with Jack. Both participated
in the Criminal Law Clinic while attending Chicago-Kent.
For a complete description of all clinical programs, please
visit the Law Offices' Home Page at http:\\www.kentlaw.iit.edu/academics/jd-program/practical-skills-training/legal-clinics