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A superintendent resigns in secrecy
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Published: 7/3/2010 11:00 PM

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Sometimes when the General Assembly takes on public access, the relevance to everyday life may seem a little obscure. Or if anything, public access may seem like one of those vested interest battles between government and the press that no one else cares about, just arguments between two lowly regarded institutions that fail to engender much sympathy from anyone.

Well, here's an example of why public access matters:

Two years ago, the school board in Palatine Township Elementary District 15 hired an educator from Cleveland named Dan Lukich to be the new superintendent and signed him to a three-year contract with compensation adding up to about $240,000 annually.

On Wednesday night, however, the taxpayers suddenly found out that Lukich has "resigned." The school board voted unanimously to approve a separation agreement that calls for his immediate departure even though he will continue to be paid something through the next school year.

If you're counting, that's 12 more months that Lukich will receive a paycheck while he's not working.

If you're a taxpayer in the district, you might wonder, "Well, how much are we paying him not to work?"

Or you might ask, "What brought this on? Why is Lukich leaving?"

You might even ask why do members of the school board think it's so important that he leaves that they're willing to spend your money to make him leave?

And you know what the answer is from the school board? Guess. The school board wants you to guess what's going on.

Maybe he's leaving because the school board questions his competence. Maybe he's leaving because he grew tired of dealing with the ever-feuding factions. Maybe he got a better offer somewhere else.

Heck, maybe he figures LeBron is re-signing with the Cavaliers and he wants to go back to Cleveland.

Who knows?

Meanwhile, maybe Lukich's being paid full salary. Maybe he's being paid more. Maybe he's being paid less.

The school board says there's a confidentiality clause in the separation agreement that limits the district's transparency. In essence, the board's saying: It's none of your business; you just sign the checks.

"When it comes to personnel issues," school board member Sue Quinn said, "sometimes you just have to trust your elected officials, as hard as that may be."

Our answer to that?

It's the other way around, board member Quinn. Elected officials need to trust the public. As hard as that may be.

And we're not talking about sometimes.