Superintendent fills D.205 vacancy, but opponents prevent his swearing-in

2014-01-08T14:00:00Z 2014-01-08T22:47:07Z Superintendent fills D.205 vacancy, but opponents prevent his swearing-inGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
January 08, 2014 2:00 pm  • 

HARVEY | Regional school superintendent officials have filled a vacancy on the School Board for Thornton Township High School District 205, but the board on Wednesday was unable to swear in the new board member.

The seven-seat School Board has been a person short since October, when a Cook County judge ordered the removal of board President Kenneth Williams because of a 29-year-old felony conviction.

The South Cook Intermediate Service Center based in Chicago Heights on Saturday named Ray Banks, the executive director of Harvey-based Restoration Ministries Inc., to fill the spot.

The service center had hoped he could be sworn in and start serving on the School Board on Wednesday. But because the district was closed o Monday and Tuesday because of inclement weather, officials were unable to put a swearing-in ceremony on the board’s agenda for Wednesday.

To further prevent Banks from being able to begin serving on the board, the three board members who were aligned with Williams (Vice President Darren Robinson, Judith Gibbs and Williams’ wife, Toni) did not attend Wednesday’s board session.

That meant the board did not have a quorum, and none of the school board’s business (including three months’ worth of unpaid school district bills) could be addressed.

The new board member is likely to shift the balance of power since previously Ken Williams and his three allies constituted a slim majority.

Now, the three other School Board members (Edward Crayton, Bernadette Lawrence and Lauren Green) who opposed Kenneth Williams, are likely to pair up with Banks to create a different majority.

Banks has said he believed Kenneth Williams tried to use his president post to micromanage daily operations of the high schools, rather than trust a superintendent to handle such details.

On Wednesday, Banks said, “In the past three years, there have been no actions taken that could be called responsible change for the children.”

Although Banks also said he was told in advance he could not be sworn in and start serving on the board this week. “I wouldn’t want to cause them to be in violation of the Open Meetings Act,” he said.

Superintendent Stacey McJunkins said she was informed of Banks’ appointment Saturday, but added she had little to do with deciding how or when he would become a member of the board.

“That’s up to the board to decide when they want to do it,” she said. “That’s board business.”

Service center Executive Director Vanessa Kinder said Banks was chosen for the position because he was the next-highest vote-getter in the April 2013 elections that chose four of the seven board members.

Banks came in fifth in those elections with 4,378 votes, or 9.05 percent of ballots cast. Kinder also said the Banks appointment was final. He will serve until April 2015, at which time a special election will be held to pick someone to serve the remaining two years of Williams’ term.

Lawrence said officials may take Banks to the 6th District Cook County Circuit Courthouse in Markham to have a judge swear him in. While Crayton said officials may schedule a special meeting later this month for such a ceremony — so that school district business can take place when the board meets again Feb. 12 at Thornton High School.

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