Lake Zurich School District 95 board of education agreed to a reduced fine, rather than proceed to a hearing regarding 18 counts of alleged violations to the Illinois’ Asbestos Abatement Act.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) issued an intent to fine the district $18,000 in May. The district negotiated a reduced fine of $7,500. The board of education agreed to the settlement at its Oct. 25 meeting.
The fine stemmed from a May 24, 2011 asbestos compliance inspection by IDPH at May Whitney School.
"The cost of litigating would have almost certainly been more so we felt this was more cost effective," said Jean Malek, communications director for the school district. To date the district spent $3,327.50 in legal fees on the issue, Malek said.
According to a board of education communication from Vicky Cullinan, assistant superintendent for business, “at the time of the review the district was not apprised of any deficiencies in their documentation or given the opportunity to provide additional information on that date. IDPH sent a letter on July 19, 2011 to which the district responded. On May 29, 2012 the district was notified of a Notice of Intent to Assess a Civil Penalty and provided an opportunity for a hearing. There were 18 areas cited for non-compliance. The district provided the requested documentation to the Illinois Department of Public Health for 17 of the 18 areas."
The 17th violation was for removing floor tile at May Whitney School in February of 2011, without reporting to IDPH. According to the school administration, the tiles were inadvertently moved without notification to IDPH.
As a result of the issue with the IDPH, Malek said the district will conduct a comprehensive review of its asbestos records.
On behalf of the school administration, Cullinan recommended paying the reduced fine rather than proceeding to a costly hearing. The board agreed to the stipulation which states that the district is not admitting any wrongdoing.
The stipulation states, “Nothing in this Stipulation is intended as, shall constitute, or be used as evidence of an admission by Respondent of any wrongdoing, liability, or fault, a waiver of any right or defense, an estoppel, or an admission as to any matter of law or fact, with respect to, or by any person or entity not a party to this Stipulation. Respondent and the Department agree further that this Stipulation will not be admissible for any purpose in any other civil, administrative, or equitable legal action or proceeding, other than in an action, or other proceeding that may be brought, instituted or taken by the Department in the event Respondent in the future violates the Act or Code. This Stipulation shall not confer any rights or remedies upon any person or entity other than Respondent and the Department, and their respective affiliates, representatives, successors and permitted assigns."