Updated: February 3, 2013 6:14AM
The good character of elected officials charged with overseeing the education of children needs to be resolute and above reproach.
That’s why Illinois forbids felons from serving on school boards. And that’s why Kenneth Williams must leave the Thornton Township High School District 205 Board.
Cook County prosecutors confirm that Williams was convicted of forgery in Indiana in 1985, and they want him to resign his seat. Williams, the board president, has not responded to a recent letter from the state’s attorney’s office and may be trying to dodge an inevitable legal end to this sorry situation.
If he doesn’t step down, the office will file a lawsuit to have him removed, according to the letter, and that’s a suit it will win. The law is clear. He’s in violation and ineligible to be on the board. Case closed.
The trickier question is how Williams was able to join the board. Since the legal suitability to serve is the first question any candidate should be required to answer, how did he run and win election without someone — the district’s attorney, for example — raising a red flag?
Williams had planned to seek re-election to the school board in April. Did a political foe learn of his felony conviction and out him? It’s not clear, but it should not have come to that because he should never have been on the board.
The District 205 board has a history of being highly political, which doesn’t help a district that has been struggling for years, both academically and financially. Williams has caused concern in the past by trying to exceed his authority, wanting to sign district checks and administer purchase orders.
That’s not a school board member’s role, especially when he has been convicted of financial impropriety. It’s simple wisdom.
Public officials who seek to circumvent the law or openly violate it and who clutch authority they are not entitled to hold show dubious values and cannot be condoned. Is that so difficult to understand?
Do the right thing, Mr. Williams, and resign.