SOUTH HOLLAND | Acting Superintendent John Arrington was given full authority Thursday to run the Thornton Township high schools. The District 205 School Board also removed current Superintendent John Thomas from the post.
Arrington was appointed by the School Board last month to the post of Human Resource director, and School Board President Kenneth Williams said he also was given the authority to take on the superintendent’s responsibilities for Thornton, Thornridge and Thornwood high schools.
But on Thursday, the School Board voted on measures that removed Thomas’ name from the district’s bank accounts, replacing it with that of Arrington. They also gave Arrington other powers to put him in charge of the school district.
Meanwhile, the school district’s attorney, Frank Garrett III, said the board also approved the creation of charges that would remove Thomas from the post.
According to Garrett, Thomas has five days to challenge his removal. If he does, he could insist on a hearing before the School Board to seek reinstatement, although no such hearing had been scheduled as of Thursday.
The fates of Thomas and Arrington had the School Board worked up Thursday, with board members Bernadette Lawrence, Lauren Green and Edward Crayton all opposed to the change. Lawrence and Green voted against the changes made by the School Board, with Crayton refusing to participate in the School Board meeting following an executive session during which the issue was discussed.
Williams was vague about Thomas and the actions that are causing officials to want to dismiss him. He refused to say what the charges were, and Thomas was not available Thursday to comment.
But Lawrence spoke on Thomas’ behalf, saying Thomas did nothing wrong during his one year with the high school district. When Lawrence attempted to speak during the board meeting, board member Toni Williams, who is the wife of the School Board president, tried cutting her off.
“Charges brought against Superintendent Thomas are trumped up, he did nothing egregious,” Lawrence said in a prepared statement following the board meeting. She added she does not like the idea that Thomas — who still has two years remaining on his contract — could now sue the school district.
“Prematurely releasing him will cost the district upwards of $1.5 million. The taxpayers cannot afford irresponsible financial governing like this.”
Arrington’s status has been unusual for the past month, as the district’s website was updated in mid-June to say he was acting superintendent, even though no specific item on last month’s board agenda related to the issue.
Lawrence said that means Arrington, who declined to comment on the matter, was not acting superintendent until Thursday, which she said means the school district has gone without anyone in charge for the past month.
“We cannot vote for somebody twice to be acting superintendent,” she said.
But Williams persisted in his belief that Arrington, who has worked two previous stints with District 205, has been in charge for the past month.
“We gave him the responsibilities and duties of the superintendent,” he said.