State’s attorney demands president of Thornton Township District 205 steps down
BY FRANK MAIN Sun-Times Media December 28, 2012 5:48PM
Thornton Township High School District 205 School Board President Kenneth Williams. | Provided photo
Updated: December 28, 2012 8:43PM
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office is demanding that the president of the Thornton Township High School District 205 board step down because of a felony conviction.
On Dec. 21, the office sent a letter to Kenneth Williams, giving him until Jan. 15 to resign, said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
If he doesn’t resign or respond to the letter by the deadline, the state’s attorney will file a lawsuit seeking his removal, Daly said.
The state’s attorney’s office is acting on a complaint that Williams has a felony conviction.
Cook County prosecutors confirmed he was convicted of forgery in Indiana in 1985. Illinois election laws make Williams ineligible to be an elected school board member because of the felony, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
Under state law, the attorney general and state’s attorney have the power to file a lawsuit asking a judge to enforce the law.
Williams, who is up for re-election April 9, did not return calls for comment made to his home and to his barber college. He refers to himself as board president on his Twitter account. His name and photo remain on the district’s web site.
Thornton Township High School District 205 serves almost 6,000 students with three schools in South Holland, Harvey and Dolton, according to its 2011 state school report card.
Its board has been in turmoil for several years — with some members accusing Williams of interfering with the school district’s day-to-day operations, said Anthony Bass, an attorney representing the district.
Williams, for example, sought to have the power to sign purchase orders and put his name on the district’s checks, Bass said. That’s the role of the superintendent and the township school treasurer, he said.
Williams, his wife, Toni Williams, and another board member form one bloc on the school board; four board members form the opposition.
Williams’ opponents on the board have been pushing for his removal, Bass said.
Bass said he supports the move by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to oust Williams.
“I can’t change the law,” he said. “The law says that a convicted felon can’t serve on the board.”
Earlier this year, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the president of the Harvey School District 152 board, Janet Rogers, also has a felony background.
In 2002, she was convicted of felony theft and state benefits fraud, and was sentenced to six months in jail.
At the time, the convictions knocked her off a Harvey school board.
But she later changed her name from Janet Thomas to Janet Rogers, and she’s now the board president of the District 152 board.
Attorneys for Rogers and the school board have argued her latest election was legal.
In June, the chief of staff for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told the Sun-Times that Rogers’ background raised “serious concerns,” and the office was reviewing its next steps.
Madigan spokeswoman Maura Possley said Friday that no definitive actions have been taken against Rogers. And District 152’s web site still lists her as president of the board.
Contributing: Lauren FitzPatrick