What’s going on at Illinois TRS and why the silence? Was the chief counsel just put on administrative leave?

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Former TRS Executive Director Richard Ingram. Gone.

I’m still trying to confirm an email I received yesterday about Illinois Teacher Retirement System’s chief counsel, Mary Dutton, being placed on administrative leave by the board of trustees on Friday.

If it is true, she would be the third high level person at TRS to be out.

Executive Director Richard Ingram was fired the first week in August. The chief financial officer, Jana Bergschneider, a 24-year veteran of TRS was terminated by the TRS board shortly before Ingram.

It was interesting that it took several days after I reported Ingram’s departure that it was picked up by anybody in the media.

Since the Ingram departure there hasn’t been much media follow up. This surprises me given how public pensions always make for an easy story on a slow news day.

A law enacted late in 2019 changed the structure of the TRS Board of Trustees. The new statute expanded the size of the Board from 13 members to 15 members. 

Trustees include the state superintendent of education, seven trustees appointed by the governor, five trustees elected by contributing TRS members, and two trustees elected by TRS current retirees.

Of the five elected “active” TRS members on the Board, no more than four of those members can belong to a single statewide teacher organization that has more than 10,000 members. The fifth elected “active” trustee must belong to a different statewide teacher organization.

The larger Illinois Education Association always held the active seats on on the TRS board. The new law guaranteed a seat to the Illinois Federation of Teachers, a legislative gift to the smaller IFT.

The law also gives the governor the power to select the board president from among the trustees. For more than 80 years, the president of the TRS Board automatically has been the sitting state superintendent of schools. The current state superintendent will continue to be “ex officio” members of the Board.

All the recent high level changes at the top have been the result of board discussions held in executive sessions.

That means TRS members don’t get to know the details.



7 thoughts on “What’s going on at Illinois TRS and why the silence? Was the chief counsel just put on administrative leave?

  1. The game seems rigged to me.
    Teachers and retirees cannot approve or disapprove of anything they have no way of knowing about.
    The stakes are the control of billions of dollars and thousands of lives. We are being kept in the dark about our own money (deferred income) and our futures. Third world nations and/or oligarchies do things such as this.
    I smell a rat – or rats.

  2. Hi Chara, Thank you for forwarding this to me, I did sign up for Fred’s blog yesterday. Another eyebrow raising story. What is up with all of these departures? I will continue to pay attention to this developing story. Thanks again for sharing. Garrick Balk South Elgin

  3. Since the vote will always be 8 Them vs. 7 Us, it makes me wonder if the powers to be think that the “T” in TRS stands for Totalitarian instead of teachers. Reminds me of my last job before retirement where the philosophy was “when we want your opinion we’ll give it to you.”

  4. Fred, thanks for keeping us informed (as you can). Even though we’re all (“we’re” being TRS members, of course) flying blind, we can rely on you for keeping on the story & telling us the truth.(I have just forwarded 5 if your TRS posts to a recent retiree, urging him to subscribe.
    Glad Diane Ravitch is posting you (& Glen, too): you both deserve a huge audience.

  5. Hey Klonsky and Brown, why do you two refuse to inform your followers of the Social Security/Medicare scam perpetuated by TRS. Why will not Klonsky respond to emails on this issue.
    “Yet, as can be seen on page C-103 of the appellate record, now before this court, defendant TRS concocted and published false verbiage in an attempt to mask their inappropriate and unlawful manner of allowing the districts to shift “teacher” earnings away from the retirement system and into social security, thereby shifting medical care obligations away from the state insurance plan and onto the federal government. On inquiry by Plaintiff- Appellant with the Social Security Administration, no such ruling by them as concocted by TRS was ever made.” Illinois Supreme Court 111755 (not available to the public per Illinois Supreme Court Rule #23).

    1. Okay, “John D. Grizzle Jr.” I know of no such scam. I don’t know anything about followers. I have never received an email from you. You quote from a source that you then say is not available to the public.
      I posted this for amusement.

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