D200 PR spending – authorized?

This is a follow up to a previous post on PR spending:

That was not the first time this type of spending has been brought to the board’s attention.  See:

Is it legal for D200 to spend taxpayer money on gifts and Donations?  We believe the answer is NO!

In a foia of PR spending, we found that the district purchased costume jewelry at Von Maur as a token of appreciation for an un-paid intern.
And
D200 spent tax payer money on an employee attending and taking several
friends, acquaintances, co-workers to a fashion show fundraiser for the Chamber of Commerce.

FOIA for Authorization Policy

I followed the original FOIA up with one sent on March 18.  I kept remembering the phrase “Public funds… for public purposes,” which is something the Edgar County watchdogs frequently cite.  So I asked for documentation authorizing certain categories of school district PR spending that don’t appear to have any public purpose:

“Please send (via email) a copy of the school policy and IL Statute number (school code reference) that governs the district giving gifts and donations to individuals (Interns, staff,  School Board Members) or non-profit organizations (e.g. Northern IL  Food Bank, People’s Resource Center, Rotary Club, Chamber of Commerce, etc.).

On March 25, Dr. Kyle said he needed more time:

Under the Freedom of Information Act, a public body may extend the time to respond to a FOIA request by up to 5 business days for a limited number of reasons. 5 ILCS 140/3(e). We are extending the time to respond to your request by three days for the following reason:

·         Responding to the request requires that we search a substantial number of specified CUSD 200 and Illinois School Code policies.

We will respond to your request by March 28, 2019.  I have personally spent a number of hours searching for your FOIA request and have not been able to find any school policy or Illinois Statue that addresses your request.  I will have a definitive answer to your FOIA request in three days.  

Dr. Kyle’s response (on March 28) basically pointed to a hay stack that does not contain an answer. I had already found the Illinois Constitution and it the phrase “public funds… for public purposes” as documented in my previous post.  I had also found the entire school code.  In it I found authorization for a school district accepting gifts or donations, but nothing about giving them.

FOIA Response:

Your request is granted.

The Illinois School Code can be accessed online at:  http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs3.asp?ActID=1005&ChapterID=17.  See also Article VIII of the Constitution of the State of Illinois at: http://www.ilga.gov/commission/lrb/con8.htm.

All of the District’s Board policies can be accessed on the District’s website at https://www.cusd200.org/domain/15.  In connection with your request, the District believes any of the following policies may generally include responsive information:  1.10, 2.105, 2.220, 4.10, 4.50, 4.55, 5.60, 8.10, 8,100, 2.125.

I checked the School Board Policies that this response listed:

1.20 covers “School District Organization”
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

2.105  “Ethics and Gift Ban”
– no political activity on school time…  Limitations on Receiving Gifts
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

2.220  “Board of Education Meetings” – Agenda, Voting Method, Minutes, Verbatim Record of Closed Meetings, Quorum and Participation by Audio or Video Means, Rules of Order, Broadcasting and Recording Board Meetings, and Closed Sessions
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

4.10  “Operational Services” – Fiscal and Business Management, Budget Planning, Preliminary Adoption Procedures, Final Adoption Procedures, and Budget Amendments
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

4.50 “Operational Services” – Payment Procedures (Bill Payable: presenting the list in board meeting and authorizing payments
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

4.55 “Operational Services” – Use of Credit and Procurement Cards
“Credit and/or procurement cards may only be used to pay certain job-related expenses or to make purchases on behalf of the Board or District or any student activity fund, or for purposes that would otherwise be addressed through a conventional revolving fund”
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

5.60 “Personnel” – Expenses
“The Board of Education shall reimburse employees for expenses necessary for the performance of their duties which have been pre-approved by the Superintendent or designee.”
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

8.10  “Community Relations” – Public Relations
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts

8.100 “Community Relations” Relations with Other Organizations and Agencies
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.
The organizations listed are all government, not individuals or non-profit organizations.

2.125 “Board of Education” – Board Member Compensation; Expenses
“School Board members provide volunteer service to the community and may not receive compensation for services, except that a Board member serving as the Board Secretary may be paid an amount up to the statutory limit if the Board so provides.”
“All Board member expense requests for travel, meals, and/or lodging must be approved by roll call vote at an open meeting of the Board.”
“Types of Official Business for Expense Advancements, Reimbursements, and Purchase Orders…”
It has nothing to do with the authority to give donations or gifts.

Illinois is a Dillon’s Rule state.

That means municipal government has authority to act only when power is expressly granted to it by the state or fairly implied from the express grants of power.  If the school district has no policy, which points back to a state statute authorizing gift and donation giving, then they CANNOT do it.  I have yet to find any such statement and the district FOIA officer has yet to provide one.

 

Since, there is no school district policy or school code authorizing the district to spend money on gifts or donating to private organizations, THEY CANNOT DO IT.

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