Former employee who sued SD 159 set to join board
A former Matteson School District 159 payroll clerk, who sued the district for more than $1 million for allegedly being fired as a whistle-blower, is set to join the District 159 school board Tuesday night.
Traycee Fox, of Matteson, will be joining board president Elliott Johnson, whom she claimed in her federal lawsuit sexually harassed her when she discussed her dismissal with him, an allegation that Johnson denied.
Fox settled the lawsuit in January, about five months after she filed it in U.S. District Court in Chicago.
Along with incumbent board members Asia Norwood and Carolyn Owens, Fox is set to be sworn in at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Marya Yates School, 6131 Allemong Drive, Matteson.
On Monday, Fox said she was willing to work with Johnson and the other board members to “focus on the direction of the children,” despite the lawsuit.
“It really is behind me,” she said. “I’m definitely a woman of integrity.”
The lawsuit claimed that Fox told District 159 Supt. Barbara Mason in May 2010 about an “apparent misappropriation of funds” by Mason’s assistant, Patricia Brewer.
Mason threatened to fire Fox if word got out about the missing money, according to the suit, and Fox was dismissed in September 2011.
The SouthtownStar reported in February 2012 that records showed that Brewer, of Matteson, and her son, Michael Brewer, were paid about $32,000 for work the district cannot account for. Both were fired in June 2010, records show. Neither has been charged with a crime.
Because of Mason’s threat to fire her, Fox turned to Johnson for help, which led to inappropriate conduct by Johnson, including him touching Fox’s hands and thigh, asking her to travel to his office in Chicago and his Washington, D.C., apartment and sending her text messages that indicated the two were “destined to have a special relationship,” the lawsuit contends.
Johnson said District 159 settled the lawsuit with Fox for less than $20,000, although he would not disclose the exact figure.
He also said Fox reached out to him for advice since being elected.
“She has treated me as if nothing has ever happened because nothing did,” Johnson said.
As for Fox, she said the lawsuit settlement didn’t give her what she asked.
“Am I happy? No,” she said. “It was never about any money.”