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Week of July 16, 2012


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 of Law).


ACCESS2PRACTICE
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.

Why Extern?

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.

Application Process:

Information and application packets for Fall 2012 are available both on 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.

Fall 2012 Externship (for credit only): Internal Revenue Service, Office of Chief Counsel

3Ls preferred

Applicants with prior expertise or experience in tax matters are preferred, but the IRS will consider all applicants.

Applications must submit a law school transcript, resume, writing sample, and a completed Form 6524 (www.irs.gov) to:

Mr. Shawn Michael Pridgen
Administrative Clerk
Law Student Volunteer Admin. Coordinator
Office of Chief Counsel
Internal Revenue Service
Suite 2300
200 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60606

Application Deadline: July 31, 2012.

Please contact Professor Gross (vgross@kentlaw.edu) if you are accepted or for more information about this externship opportunity.
 

FLEISHMAN AWARD

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 of them.

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 

 

 

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