CHICAGO | A Cook County judge will hold a hearing next month to determine if the School Board president of Thornton Township High School District 205 ought to be removed from his post because of a 28-year-old felony conviction on his record.
Associate Judge Rita M. Novak on Tuesday accepted a written response from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, which has been pushing for months for the removal of Kenneth Williams from the School Board post to which he was elected in 2009, and re-elected in last month’s municipal elections.
That response by the state’s attorney’s office, presented by Assistant State’s Attorney Sisavanh Baker, was to a brief prepared by Williams’ attorney, Matthew Dodge, about why he should be allowed to remain on the School Board.
Novak, who previously had said she wants to rule on this case as quickly as possible, scheduled a hearing for oral arguments on June 19 at the Daley Center courthouse.
Williams was not present for Monday’s court hearing, although he previously has said he considers the case brought by the state’s attorney’s office to be inappropriate.
Williams was found guilty in 1985 of a charge of forgery in Indiana. Sentenced to five years in prison, he served 22 months.
Although he has not been arrested for any criminal activity since then, the state’s attorney argues that any felony conviction makes him ineligible to serve on a school board. Since December, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has wanted a judge to issue an order removing Williams from the School Board.
Novak has said she needs to research the issue to determine how much legal authority she has to remove an elected official by force.
A desire to remove Williams from the School Board is one shared by some members of the board itself, although a slim majority of the District 205 School Board is filled with Williams supporters.
Board members conducted a special meeting Saturday, and school district spokesman Jerry Doss said the board voted in favor of dismissing their attorney, Anthony Bass, whom Williams has criticized in the past for siding against him on various issues.
Bass was not available Monday to comment on the situation. But Williams defended the change in legal counsel, saying, "it's the type of reorganization that any board does following an election."