Legal Action Against D-86? Equity Consultant Implies It

HINSDALE, IL — An anti-racism consultant who wrote the letter calling Hinsdale “dangerous” sought a reimbursement of more than $2,500, public records show.

On Jan. 13, North Carolina-based consultant Valda Valbrun withdrew from consideration with Hinsdale High School District 86. Her letter was read at a school board meeting that day.

Six days later, Valbrun emailed an invoice for $2,557 for costs for her trip to Hinsdale in November to make her case as a consultant. She was poised to get the job when she withdrew.

Superintendent Tammy Prentiss forwarded the invoice to Josh Stephenson, the district’s chief financial officer.

In an email to Valbrun, Stephensen denied the invoice the same day.

“Please be advised that any costs that are incurred by a company due to their participation in any public procurement process (bidding/requests for proposal/requests for information) managed by the district are not reimbursable,” Stephensen said.

Valbrun expressed unhappiness with that decision.

“The refusal to pay my invoice is small in comparison to the damages I should and could seek for the harassment, threats and mental anguish your district has caused me,” Valbrun said in an email. “I will be conferring with my attorney.”

The emails were released in response to a public records request from a resident. District 86 is more open than the vast majority of public bodies in that it shares most of the results of its records requests online.

In her January letter, Valbrun withdrew because of the “vitriol and lack of professionalism in the direct messages” she received from District 86 residents. She also referred to an incident during her visit to Hinsdale Central, which has not been fully detailed.

Valbrun has not returned Patch’s messages for comment.

It may have been a tweet from Valbrun that prompted opposition to her.

A number of residents noted a tweet in which Valbrun wrote, “DeSantis and Abbott are the devil. Just like Trump. I hope the entire GOP implodes.” She was referring to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

Last fall, the district’s previous consultants resigned after one of their tweets came to light. It was seen as anti-police.

Since Valbrun’s withdrawal, many called for Prentiss’ removal, saying she mishandled the process. They accuse her of drafting the language calling Hindale a “dangerous place.” It is not entirely certain that she came up with those words, but online records show she was involved in the drafting.