Judge: No open public comments at October consent decree hearing

Judge: No open public comments at October consent decree hearing

CHAMPAIGN – U.S. District Court Judge Joe Billy McDade will not take open public comment at an Oct. 19 hearing in the Champaign school district's consent decree case.

But those who want to weigh in on the issues confronting the district may submit a written statement. Based on the written statements he receives, the judge may allow limited comment from some groups or individuals at the hearing.

The consent decree is between the school district and plaintiffs who complained of racial disparities in achievement, discipline and gifted and special education. The decree is scheduled to end after the 2008-09 school year.

McDade issued an order Monday describing the procedures for the hearing.

Those who want to comment at the hearing must submit a typed statement, no longer than five pages, by Oct. 9. The statement should describe the person or group's interest in the case and include a summary of the proposed commentary. The statement should be sent to: Chambers of Judge Joe Billy McDade, 127 Federal Building, 100 N.S. Monroe St., Peoria, IL 61602.

There will be limited public seating for the hearing, which will be held in the auditorium of the University of Illinois College of Law, 504 E. Pennsylvania Ave., C.

The law school auditorium will be reserved for the parties to the case and those participating in the hearing. There will be no general public seating in that room. The law school is providing a second room for a closed circuit broadcast of the proceedings, with 98 seats available for the general public on a first-come, first-served basis.

Those attending the hearing will not be allowed to bring in any electronic devices, including cell phones, personal digital devices, computers, cameras or any recording device. A picture ID is required to enter the hearing room.

The hearing will begin at 12:30 p.m. Oct. 19, and the hearing room and closed circuit room will open about 20 minutes before the start of the hearing.

A copy of the judge's order is available on the court's Web site for the consent decree case, at www.ilcd.uscourts.gov/Champaignschools.htm.

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