UPDATE: Judge Grants Motion to Dismiss District 39 Lawsuit Appeal
After almost 19 months of lawsuits and appeals, it seems School District 39's legal battles have ended.
Three Illinois Appellate Court judges signed an order Friday granting Herbert Sorock and Taxpayers United of America's motion to voluntarily dismiss their appeal of their 19-month-long lawsuit against Wilmette School District 39.
The plaintiff in a lawsuit that accused Wilmette School District 39 of misleading voters during an April 2011 referendum filed a motion Monday to voluntarily dismiss their Illinois Appellate Court appeal.
“TUA recently filed a motion to voluntarily dismiss the lawsuit given the reluctance of the courts to enforce clear requirements of Illinois law,” Wilmette resident Herbert Sorock wrote in a recent press release .
Herbert Sorock and Taxpayers United of America (TUA), an anti-tax group, have fought for nearly 19 months to overturn a 2011 referendum in which 63 percent of Wilmette voters chose to approve a $6.38 million tax hike to help plug the district’s projected spending gap. Sorock and TUA have accused the school district of excluding information from the referendum’s wording to present voters with an inaccurate estimate of how much the tax increase would cost residents.
In June 2011, a Cook County judge dismissed the lawsuit, and later, an Illinois Appellate Court judge dismissed a TUA appeal. However, while the Illinois Supreme Court denied a petition to hear the case, it ruled the lawsuit should be reinstated in Appellate Court. Monday’s voluntary dismissal will likely end the appeals process.
District 39 Board President Karen Donnan responded to news of the lawsuit’s dismissal in a school district press release, saying she was happy the district could finally end the lengthy legal battle.
“We are pleased that this lengthy legal process has finally concluded,” Donnan said, according to the press release. “This case has been a drain on district resources for more than a year. To date, the district has spent more than $54,000 in defense of this lawsuit. These are taxpayer dollars that should be used for the education of children in our community. District 39 can now focus its resources and attention where it belongs, on our students.”
However, Sorock took issue with a portion of the District 39 press release that claimed an act approved by the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year that amended the Property Tax Code “reinforced that the district’s ballot language correctly followed Illinois law as it existed at that time.”
Sorock called the statement a continuation of the district’s “campaign to mislead residents over the illegal ballot language”, saying the change to the tax code demonstrates the state legislature agreed with him that information was excluded from the 2011 referendum.
“Rather than vindication for the district, the changes made by Public Act 97-1087 demonstrate that TUA and I were absolutely correct in challenging the referendum ballot for its failure to conform to requirements of Illinois law,” Sorock wrote in his press release. “TUA and I knew the District’s ballot language was illegal eighteen months ago; that the district still claims otherwise defies common sense and strains credulity.”