Sham Legal Claims Force Districts to Divert Resources, Time from Important Issues
Date PostedMarch 2, 2022
Some school districts in Illinois have recently received legal and insurance claims from individuals unhappy with certain school-related policies. The claims have appeared throughout the country and are unfounded, but they have created uncertainty for districts, parents, and staff.
The misleading information is in regard to surety bonds and the prospect of education funding being withheld at the state and federal levels. Such claims are intended to cause confusion and are unlikely to succeed, because private third parties typically have no standing to make claims on these type of district bonds, which insure districts from fraud by the bonded official. Such bonds are not designed to cover public policy decisions of school officials.
Under the Illinois School Code, only school district treasurers are required to post surety bonds. Other district officials and administrators are not required to carry the bonds. The U.S. Department of Education has stated that it has “never suspended access to federal funds after a claim was filed against a schools district’s surety bond.”
These types of baseless claims waste district resources by diverting attention away from the many important issues schools are currently navigating. The time and staff required to respond to the unfounded claims is time that can’t be spent focusing on improving outcomes for students and addressing the many challenges districts have faced over the course of the pandemic.
School officials should consult with their school board attorney if they receive any such claims.