CHICAGO | A Cook County judge said Friday he wants to try again to meet with the six current members of the Thornton Township High School District 205 School Board to see if they can fill a vacancy without his intervention.
But an attorney for the man who used to sit on the board until ordered removed by a different judge said his client has had his felony criminal record expunged, which he says could result in the return of Kenneth Williams to the District 205 board.
Attorneys for the various sides involved in the District 205 School Board vacancy met at the Daley Center courtroom of Judge Moshe Jacobius on Friday. Jacobius had wanted to meet with the board members earlier this week. Heavy snowfall Tuesday night into Wednesday morning caused that attempt to be canceled.
But Jacobius said he still wants to talk with School Board members, in hopes he can convince at least four of the six members to agree on a new board member to replace Williams. He said that would resolve the problem now facing the district in which its six members are split 3-3. That has prevented any action from being approved at School Board meetings in recent months and has even prevented quorums from occurring on occasion.
Jacobius said he will meet with the six board members Wednesday at the 6th District Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Markham and will hold another hearing March 24 in his own courtroom.
But during Friday's court hearing, attorney Andrew Finko said there are circumstances that could result in Williams' return. Judge Rita Novak ruled in October that Williams' felony conviction in 1985 for aiding in the commission of a forgery makes him ineligible to serve on a school board.
Finko told Jacobius that Williams' conviction was recently expunged, and attorney George Jackson said he filed documents Friday that backed up the assertion.
Jackson is an attorney representing School Board members who were aligned with Williams, while Finko is both the high school district's attorney and the legal counsel representing Williams in his case to the Illinois appellate court to get Novak's ruling overturned.
Following the court hearing, Jackson told The Times the expungement occurred about one month ago. Finko said the result is the conviction could no longer be used against Williams. "If it's expunged from the record, it's like it never existed," Finko said.
Lisa Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Cook County state's attorney's office, said prosecutors who led the effort to get Williams removed were not notified of any type of clemency being issued in the case.
While Anthony Bass, a former School Board attorney who now represents the board members who oppose Williams, said of the case, "It's not a pardon."
Williams, when contacted by telephone following Friday's court hearing, would not confirm that his record was cleared in any way.
"I don't know anything about that," he said, before abruptly hanging up.