Districts 67, 115 respond to published investigation
LAKE FOREST – Days after a published investigation on the former superintendent of school districts 67 and 115, the districts responded with statements of it own.
Harry Griffith was reportedly the highest-paid public school official in the entire state, earning $362,000 in the prior academic year in addition to other benefits such as travel and dining reimbursements and the forgiveness of a $70,000 loan to purchase a home.
The report also raised possible conflict-of-interest questions because of Griffith’s position on the board of directors of Lake Forest Bank & Trust. The bank handles the financial affairs of both school districts.
On Tuesday, the districts issued a statement in response to the Chicago Tribune story, claiming two inaccuracies in the story.
The district said the loan that was reported as forgiven is in the fourth year of a five-year repayment schedule. Regarding Griffith’s position at Lake Forest Bank & Trust, the statement said that nine banks submitted proposals and the one chosen was the most cost effective.
Reached for comment on Monday, District 115 Board President Sharon Golan said that the bank was one of many community involvements for Griffith and that he recused himself from the decision-making process on which bank to choose.
Golan also said the board was specifically seeking a superintendent who would be involved in local organizations.
Golan said the information in the story refers to things that happened over the course of 20 years. She has served on the District 117 board since 2005, and most other members are more recent additions.
Though not directly denying any of the information in the story, Golan said she is confident that under her watch there was nothing untoward happening.
“During my time, I feel there was enough oversight,” she said.
Golan was quoted by the Tribune saying that residents need to attend meetings and be responsible for participating in oversight. She touted the fact that all board committees have two-three community members serving on them.
She brushed off the possibility that attending or reading the minutes of every meeting of a taxing body may put unrealisitic demands on someone’s time. She also was circumspect about whether even the Finance Committee would have been privy to all the expenditures detailed in the story.
The statement issued by the districts suggests that Griffith might not have been unique among his peers and quotes Golan saying, “The Tribune article lacked comparative data from other school districts regarding compensation, retirement benefits, travel expenses, etc.”