Judge rules Barrett does not have to pay District 86’s legal costs
Updated: October 28, 2012 6:45AM
WHEATON — A DuPage County judge ruled Monday that neither Dianne Barrett, nor her attorney, has to pay Hinsdale High School District 86’s legal costs to defend itself against her efforts to reopen a case the judge dismissed in November.
Barrett, a member of the Hinsdale District 86 School Board, filed a lawsuit against the school district when she was not allowed to see unfiltered student records related to special education services. She also sought the right to listen to audio recordings from the board’s executive sessions she did not attend.
In November, the court dismissed the entire case. The next month Barrett’s attorney, Natalie Brouwer Potts, filed a motion to reconsider. Brouwer Potts is director of the Center for Open Government, which is part of IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Judge Thomas Dudgeon in March agreed to reopen the part of the lawsuit pertaining to access to the audiotapes from closed sessions, Brower Potts said. But he denied the motion to reconsider allowing access to special education records.
Barrett and her attorney added a new count to the complaint, objecting to a district policy the School Board adopted in March, which requires School Board members justify why they need to see district records not available to the general public.
After Dudgeon denied the district’s motion for sanctions, two counts remain alive: Barrett’s objection to the new board policy and her request to listen to the audiotapes.
District 86’s attorney, James Petrungaro, already has filed a motion for the judge to dismiss all counts.
A new judge will take over the case, as Dudgeon has been reassigned to another division within the courthouse. The next court date will be set after the new judge has received the assignment.
Brouwer Potts said she plans to file a motion asking the new judge for summary judgment on the audiotape portion of the complaint.
“That’s a clear legal issue,” Brouwer Potts said. “It will speed up the process. This has been going on for two years.”