DOLTON | With Kenneth Williams removed from the Thornton Township High School District 205 board, it appeared incapable of performing much of its anticipated business.
Williams was ordered removed from the board last month by a Cook County judge, who said Williams' 1985 conviction in Indiana for aiding a forgery amounted to an “infamous crime” that made him ineligible to hold the post to which he was elected in 2009 and 2013.
An Illinois appellate court panel in Chicago this week rejected Williams’ request for a stay that would have allowed him to remain on the School Board while his legal appeal is pending.
As a result, board Vice President Darren Robinson led Wednesday’s scheduled meeting at Thornridge High School. However, board members seemed to take much guidance from the actions of fellow member Toni Williams – Ken Williams’ wife, who was elected to the School Board in her own right in 2011.
Little was actually accomplished, as most measures wound up with a 3-3 vote. Those measures included payment of bills and approval of meeting minutes for the past two months.
The only measure of substance that was approved was awarding a $161,200 contract to Bridgeview-based Peak Electric Inc. to install a new lighting system in the auditorium of Thornridge High School. Peak was one of three bids for the project, and board members voted 6-0 only after being informed the federal government could rescind the grant being used to pay for the project if the money was not spent in a timely manner.
Board member Edward Crayton said he wanted delays in the bill payments because he was confused about who was getting money from the School District. Toni Williams accused him of engaging in delaying tactics for personal reasons.
Verbal outbursts from members of the public cropped up from time to time. At one point, uniformed Dolton police officers escorted Crayton’s wife, Felita, from the room in handcuffs. She later was released without charges being filed.
Wednesday was the deadline for people interested in filling Kenneth Williams’ slot on the School Board until the 2015 election cycle to file an application at the district offices in South Holland.
Neither Toni Williams nor Superintendent Stacey McJunkins would say how many people filed applications.
Toni Williams said the board in upcoming weeks would interview all the applicants, then make a pick – with final approval to be given at a future meeting. Williams would not say if the process could be complete by the next scheduled meeting on Dec. 11.
Crayton said he’d like to see an outside entity brought in to pick someone to fill the vacancy.
“We ought to turn this over to somebody outside the district to pick the seventh board member,” he said. “Otherwise, we’re not going to accomplish much.”
Toni Williams said she would not rule out the possibility of her husband returning to the board following a legal appeal.
“He’s a fighter,” she said, adding of his criminal conviction, “Everybody has something in their past, or knows someone with something in their past. People understand this.”