CHICAGO | A Cook County judge on Friday scheduled a hearing for Oct. 17 and may set a trial date at that time to determine if District 205 board President Ken Williams can remain on the School Board.
Attorneys for both Williams and the Cook County state's attorney's office appeared Friday before Associate Judge Rita Novak at the Daley Center. Another hearing was scheduled for Oct. 17, and officials with the state’s attorney’s office said that Novak may schedule a trial at that time for the Williams case.
The state’s attorney’s office has sued Williams, saying he is ineligible to be on the Thornton Township High School District 205 School Board even though voters in 2009 and 2013 chose him in local elections. In the latter election, Williams was the top vote-getter of all candidates on the ballot.
Williams’ status on the School Board is under attack because of the felony conviction from 28 years ago that remains on his record. In 1985 in Indiana, he was convicted of aiding or inducing a forgery. He wound up serving 22 months of a five-year prison term.
He has not been found guilty of any offense since then and has gone on to create the Silk ‘n’ Classy barber college in Dolton in addition to serving on the School Board.
But the state’s attorney’s office argues in its lawsuit that state law specifically prohibits people with felony convictions from being eligible to serve on school boards. Williams’ attorneys have argued in court that a combined reading of the state school and election codes means he was merely ineligible during the time he was in prison, and that his right to serve in an elected post was restored to him once his sentence was complete.
Williams has said he wants this case resolved by a jury trial, rather than a judge’s ruling.
The Oct. 17 court hearing before Novak is for attorneys for both sides to make legal motions. Once those issues are resolved, then Novak can schedule a date for the lawsuit to go to trial.
Novak, who says she wants this case resolved as soon as possible, has said she does not believe the case is as clear-cut as attorneys for either side are trying to make it appear to be.