SD 227: Owens skips chance to comment
BY SARAH ZYLSTRA Correspondent August 23, 2013 6:16PM
Updated: September 26, 2013 6:20AM
Rich Township High School District 227 Board member Betty Owens last week passed on a chance to publicly comment on allegations by other board members that she used district money last year and this spring to promote her campaign for re-election.
During Tuesday night’s school board meeting, board president Cheryl Coleman opened up the floor for discussion on the board’s recent decision to forward a report from its lawyer to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
The report concludes that Owens, then the board president, disproportionately used the district’s public relations firm in 2012 and early this year to promote her achievements, which Coleman, a political foe of Owens, has called “pre-campaign propaganda.”
Owens earlier this month told the SouthtownStar that she was “appalled” by the allegation and that she had not “used any district funds for any personal gain. That’s just not true.”
She said she has hired an attorney to explore possible legal action against Coleman and the board majority.
The head of the PR firm, Jerry Thomas, said it publicized an award Owens received as part of a drive to emphasize positive news in District 227, which has been awash in controversy during the past few years as a politically divided board squabbled over various issues.
Thomas pointed out that articles about Owens’ award appeared several months before Owens announced she was running for re-election and nearly a year before April’s board election.
Owens was absent from the Aug. 10 board meeting when four members decided to send the promotional materials, along with email exchanges between the district and Thomas, to the state’s attorney’s office.