I want to thank Scott Reeder for highlighting the role of circuit court judges in the Aug. 15 “My View” article, “How the rich are bilking the poor and middle class.” Scott’s article comes on the heels of a July 29 Wall Street Journal article, “College Financial-Aid Loophole: Wealthy Parents Transfer Guardianship of Their Teens to Get Aid,” in which their reporter uncovered this practice. That article focused on, you got it, Illinois and Lake County in particular.

In just one incident, the article identified a Chicago law firm that had helped about 25 families get independent student status by transferring guardianship to a third party. This opened up financial aid avenues to students who would not have otherwise qualified. The most disturbing revelation of that article is that in many cases, the student having their guardianship being transferred nor their parents had to show up in court. It was just the person seeking the guardianship and their lawyer who appeared.

Scott used the word “shameless” and he is right. How can circuit judges, having one of these cases before them, not ask the question “why”? These junior and senior high school students had not prior contact with Department of Children and Family Services, social services or police intervention. Why is it important now to have their guardianship transferred?

In these type of cases where there is no physical impairment to attending, circuit judges should require all parties to be present at these proceedings. A petitioner, coming from an affluent neighborhood address, having had no prior public interceding, asking for this type of court intervention should set off a red flag. We should expect more from our judges.
 
— Ernie Redfern, co-chair, Friends of Veterans Memorial Circle