Settlement possible in lawsuit over new Hinsdale Middle School

Karen Jordan Image
Monday, May 22, 2017
Settlement possible involving Hinsdale middle school
EMBED <>More Videos

Some parents and teachers in Hinsdale want to build a new middle school.

CLARENDON HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- A lawsuit that has delayed the construction of a much-needed new Hinsdale Middle School building could be close to being resolved.

Last November, voters approved a referendum that would clear the way for a new $53 million school. The current building is overcrowded and black mold had caused it to close temporarily.

Groundbreaking could have started last month. But plans were put on hold.

Five people filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the referendum because the DuPage County Elections Commission published it three days too early, based on Illinois law.

In a statement released Monday, the five plaintiffs said they have signed a settlement proposal to end the legal dispute. Don White, superintendent of the Community Consolidated School District 181, said the plaintiffs have been invited to join the school board for its executive session Monday night.

"Five people have held our community hostage over an issue that was not our fault at all," said Polly Ascher, who opposes the lawsuit. "It's prolonging what should already be done and it's doing nothing but harming our children in the process."

Ascher organized a rally on Monday, where students and parents chanted "Drop the Suit," as well as a "Drop the HMS lawsuit" Facebook page.

"It would be nice if these people would take a look around and say, 'You know what? The rest of the community really doesn't support us,'" said Denise Pacioni, who also opposes the lawsuit.

Plaintiff Andrew Schmidt said: "Ad hoc groups that have formed to dissuade the plaintiffs from continuing the suit have engaged in social-media bullying and personal harassment with no admonishment from the D181 board and Superintendent Don White."

White, district superintendent, said Monday: "We continue to work with counsel in exploring all means of resolving the Schmidt litigation and will give due consideration to all settlement proposals made in good faith."