D.215 transitions to new school board

2013-04-30T22:10:00Z D.215 transitions to new school boardGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
April 30, 2013 10:10 pm  • 

CALUMET CITY | The School Board for Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215 took on the new members who were chosen in last month’s municipal elections.

Not that the change was drastic. The only new person on the board was Calumet City resident Joe del Real — an engineer who ran unopposed for the School Board seat that was held for the past four years by Donald Swibes.

The other board members whose April 9 election results were certified by the Cook County clerk’s office Tuesday were School Board President Richard Dust, LeeAnn Revis and Roger Yochem, who didn’t attend Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony.

The board conducted the transition from the old to the new following a final meeting of the old board that lasted more than two hours — most of which was held in executive session.

The board approved a measure acknowledging Swibes’ accomplishments as a School Board member — serving for four years, the first of which he was School Board president.

Del Real said he looks forward to joining the School Board (he was elected to a term that runs through April 2017) because he wants to see the Thornton Fractional high schools in Calumet City and Lansing improve their programs in science, technology and engineering.

He also wants it to be a priority to emphasize programs that encourage people to attend college after graduating from high school.

“Even if they choose not to, I want everyone to realize that college is an option for them,” said del Real, who is a University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign graduate with a master’s degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

Del Real is walking into a School Board filled with members who have worked together for several years. Yet he does not anticipate problems arising. “I get along with everybody,” he said.

He added that he will be a careful observer of all proposals that come before the School Board.

“I am an engineer. I’m going to analyze everything to the Nth degree,” he said.

In Thornton Township High School District 205, which oversees high schools in Harvey, Dolton and South Holland, the transition to the newly elected School Board will not take place until the next regularly scheduled board meeting May 8.

Incumbent School Board President Kenneth Williams is facing a legal fight to remove him from the board even though the county clerk’s office certified Tuesday that he received 7,708 votes — more than any of the 11 candidates who sought four openings.

Williams was convicted of a felony in 1985 and served just less than two years in prison. His critics on the School Board say that offense makes him ineligible to hold an elected position on a school board.

The Cook County state’s attorney office has its own case pending to try to remove him. A circuit judge this week rejected a motion filed by School Board members who oppose Williams seeking to prevent his election results from being approved by the county clerk.

“The judge wasn’t about to ignore the votes of people who supported me,” Williams said Tuesday.

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