HARVEY | Members of the Thornton Township High School District 205 Board were forced to cancel Wednesday night’s meeting after they declared a lack of a quorum.
Board President Ken Williams, secretary Toni Williams and member Derrick Robinson were absent without notice. Members Arthur Burton, Ray Banks, and Vice President Ed Crayton were in attendance. They were one short of a quorum
The meeting was scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at Thornton Township High School in Harvey. At 6:30, Crayton told the audience the board members would wait until 6:45 to see if any of the missing members would arrive. When they did not, he canceled the meeting.
“This is the second time we have had to cancel a meeting in the last four months,” he told the audience. “And, quite frankly, this is unacceptable.”
Crayton said that he would contact local and state governing bodies to investigate what options the board has.
“For the board president and secretary to be absent without notice or contact is unheard of,” Crayton said. “We have business that needs to be conducted and we cannot have political issues impacting our children.”
On Feb. 1, Williams was removed from the April 9 election ballot because of an improper filing of signatures on his nominating papers. Judith Gibbs and Annette Odneal, staunch supporters of Williams, also were removed for improper filings.
In addition, Cook County State Attorney Anita Alvarez has filed a lawsuit to have Williams removed from the District 205 board because he was convicted of a felony in 1985.
“The children are suffering because of this,” Crayton said. “We can’t have that.”
Several out-of-district field trips for students were on the agenda, needing board approval. It was uncertain at this time if any of the trips would be in jeopardy.
While those in the auditorium waited to see if a meeting would take place, special education teachers picketed outside.
ECHO EA, the union that represents special education teachers for 17 school districts, picketed District 205 to publicize its efforts to reach a contract.
Union president Barb Schranz told The Times that the teachers have been without a contract for one year.
“Our contract with 17 districts, including 205, expired one year ago,” Schranz said. “We have been trying to negotiate in good faith with representatives from all 17 districts. It has been very challenging. We do not believe that the districts are putting forth the effort we need to make this happen.”
Schranz said that the districts want teachers to take severe cuts in pension and insurance benefits.
Members of the union have been moving from school to school to try to make parents aware of the situation.
“Special education is so critical to each and every school,” Schranz said. “The parents need to ask district administrators what they are doing to make sure they are emphasizing the needs of special education students.”