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D86 Board OKs Sending Cease-and-Desist Letter to 'Hinsdale High Schools' Website

Board President Dennis Brennan will write and send the letter asking the anonymous operators of the oft-critical website to change its name.

The District 86 Board of Education voted 5-2 Monday to authorize Board President Dennis Brennan to compose and send a letter to the operators of the Hinsdale High Schools website that asks them to cease and desist using the site’s current name.

Richard Skoda voted against the motion along with Dianne Barrett. Skoda said the district could be in for a “wild goose chase” depending on how the anonymous operators respond.

“I just see this running up a lot of time,” he said.

All that was authorized Monday was the sending of the cease-and-desist letter, though Skoda and Barrett both questioned if board members were willing to go to court over the website’s name.

“The board would have to have a future discussion about that,” Brennan said.

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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.

Brennan has said he believes the use of Hinsdale High Schools as the title of the website violates Board Policy 8.22, which is:

“… intended specifically for community organizations within District 86 which utilize District 86 names in their titles, but which are not directly subject to governance by District 86. Such usage would include: ‘Hinsdale Central,’ ‘Hinsdale South,’ ‘Hornet,’ ‘Red Devil,’ ‘Devil,’ ‘Ice Devil,’ or any variation on these titles or other name or title commonly identified with District 86 and in which District 86 has a protectible interest, in the name of the organization or associated with or used to describe the organization.”

Skoda and Barrett have both said that the phrase “Hinsdale High Schools” is too generic to apply the policy, and Skoda on Monday questioned whether the website is a community organization.

Skoda, who said at the board’s Sept. 10 meeting that he does not have an operating interest in the site and does not know who is in control of the site’s name, asked if Brennan would be OK with the site changing its name to “Stop Corruption in Hinsdale High Schools.”

“I wouldn’t have a problem if they want to do that,” Brennan said. “It would just be another lie they tell.”

Brennan said he’s going to write and send the cease-and-desist letter himself. It will be based on one that was drafted by district attorneys in 2011 when the name issue was first brought before the board.

For more background, read Patch's past reporting on this topic:

  • D86 Board President's Request to Go After Controversial Website Will Get Vote
  • D86 Board President Again Going After Website Critical of District

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