Board President Dennis Brennan’s is requesting board permission to demand that a website critical of the district cease and desist using its current name, but any new reasoning he has won't be explained until next month.
Brennan was not present at Monday’s District 86 Board of Education meeting, which featured an action item in the agenda’s president’s report that if passed would have authorized Brennan to present a written cease and desist notification to “individuals historically associated" with the website titled Hinsdale High Schools, according to the item’s wording.
Hinsdale High Schools, found at www.hinsdalehighschools.com, publishes anonymously written posts that are often critical of District 86’s administration and board.
“Many have asked why we do not put names on our posts,” the site’s welcome page reads. “The reason is that our posts are about issues - not about individuals. Judge us for the ideas expressed here - not whether you like who we are.”
During the run-up to the 2011 school board election, the site was listed as the website of The Final Three slate of candidates—Bruce Davidson, Richard Skoda and Claudia Manley—in their campaign emails.
Skoda was the only one of the three to win a spot on the board.
Since Brennan was not at Monday’s meeting to explain the reasoning behind the request, , the board members present tabled the item for further discussion at their Sept. 10 committee of the whole meeting.
Questions asked by board members Monday gave a preview of what the future discussion might sound like when Brennan is present.
Skoda cited the lack of board approval on last year’s request as reasoning to dismiss this one.
“If it wasn’t worth doing a year ago … why are we moving forward now?” Skoda asked.
Kay Gallo echoed her statements from last year's discussion, again citing the Internet's "lawless" nature and the anonymity of the site as the speed bumps she sees.
“How would we go about telling this nebulous to cease and desist?” she asked. “Is there some kind of law that has changed that would give us a little more teeth?”
She said she hopes to get that answered when Brennan, who is a lawyer, is present.
Monday’s meeting was led by Michael Kuhn, who seemed in favor of granting Brennan’s request based on Board Policy 8.22, which addresses the use of district names by outside organizations.
“Personally I think that there’s many associations using our name and not asking for permission,” he said. “We have a policy in place and I think we need to go forward with it.”
As Patch reported last year, a search of the database of The Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC), operated by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), showed that HinsdaleHighSchools.com was registered through GoDaddy.com.
The person registering the site used a service called Domains by Proxy, Inc., to anonymously record the domain name.
Here are some comments from Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Patch's Facebook page regarding this story:
Mickey: "Well, I had never heard of the site until now. So by trying to shut it down, it just gets more publicity."
Joel: "Umm.. 1st amendment D86? Good luck with that."