D.205 board president's critics say agenda item withheld

2013-10-12T20:15:00Z 2013-10-13T23:03:06Z D.205 board president's critics say agenda item withheldGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 12, 2013 8:15 pm  • 

DOLTON | Two members of the Thornton Township High School District 205 board of education who often are in opposition to School Board President Kenneth Williams complained this week they were denied bits of public information they say they are entitled to as board members.

Specifically, School Board members Edward Crayton and Bernadette Lawrence said they were presented with agendas for the meeting held Wednesday at Thornridge High School that omitted an item concerning, “Possible personnel action related to District 205 parent coordinator(s).”

That item was listed on the agendas made public on the district’s website at www.district205.net, and also on a copy of the agenda sent to The Times by email Monday afternoon.

But it was missing from the copy of the agendas received by Crayton and Lawrence earlier this week, they said. The agenda that Crayton showed to The Times had a blank space while the agenda The Times received included the item.,

“The (school) board should be democratic, but it has deteriorated to a Hitler-like situation. I want to respect (School Board President Kenneth Williams), but (he) has to respect us too,” Crayton said.

The School Board wound up acting upon the item after going into an executive session on Wednesday, passing it without any elaboration.

Crayton said because the item was not on the copy of the agenda he and Lawrence received, it should not have been considered official and should not have been acted upon at all.

“I am a board member, and I need to know what is on the agenda,” Crayton said, adding later that he could not say for certain whether information had ever been withheld from him before.

Williams said there was nothing improper with the way the agendas were distributed to School Board members. He said he suspected that Crayton received a premature version of the agenda for the Wednesday meeting, and said the final agenda was the one the board acted upon.

In fact, he went so far as to have the School Board’s attorney issue a verbal opinion that the official agenda was the one posted on the district website.

“I approved it. I signed off on it,” Williams said, while School Board Secretary Rosemary Papaleo said the final version of the agenda was sent Monday afternoon to all School Board members.

Crayton was angered enough about the agenda issue that he repeatedly kept talking about the point even as Williams tried to shift the subject matter to other issues on the agenda.

Williams said he thought Crayton was, “being very disruptive” during the meeting, while Crayton said Williams, who often resorted to banging his gavel in an attempt to silence Crayton, was trying to cut him off.

“I am a board member, and I have a right to express myself here,” Crayton said.

The back-and-forth verbal exchanges between Crayton and Williams often got spectators worked into a frenzy, with Williams at one point instructing two off-duty Dolton police officers on hand for the meeting to remove anyone who became out of control. No one actually was removed by police from the meeting.

Crayton at one point even wondered if Williams would employ an old Chicago City Council tactic to silence dissent — turning off the microphones of critics.

“I hope this mic is working,” he said. “I hope nobody cuts me off.”

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