SOUTH HOLLAND Kenneth Williams, Thornton Township High School District 205 board president, took an oath Tuesday to serve a four-year term to which he was elected last month, but not until after his most outspoken critics voiced their opposition to him.
The board that oversees Thornwood High School, along with Thornton High in Harvey and Thornridge High in Dolton, held a special meeting to allow for winners of the April 9 elections to be sworn in for terms running through April 2017.
But those oaths were administered at the end of the special meeting – and that meant that Williams’ critics used the public-participation portion of the meeting to criticize the man who was the top vote-getter in the election despite an ongoing attempt by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to remove him because of a 28-year-old felony conviction.
Troy O’Quin, pastor of River Oaks Community Church, 16931 South Park Ave., said he believes many qualified people have been driven out of District 205 administration by Williams, who serves on the board along with his wife, Toni. She was elected to a School Board seat in the 2011 elections and will be up for re-election in 2015.
“Who needs to have a family reunion? They’re all here,” said O’Quin, who delivered his statement while using a portable device to play “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” as he spoke.
“Who is responsible for oversight,” asked O’Quin, whose voice was so loud that it carried throughout the auditorium even after Williams had officials turn off the microphone O’Quin was using.
The pastor said he’d like to have people contact Gov. Pat Quinn and their local state legislators to let them know of displeasure with Williams, who he said is ignoring the efforts of the state’s attorney to determine Williams’ legal status to hold a School Board seat.
“Our fight must go on so we can return a quality education to our schools,” said O’Quin.
Also speaking out against Williams was Felita Crayton, the spouse of board Vice President Edward Crayton, who criticized Williams for his vote earlier in the meeting to pay all the bills pending before the School Board.
She tried demanding a detailed explanation, but Williams refused.
The state's attorney's office filed a complaint against Williams late last year seeking his removal because of his 1985 forgery conviction in Indiana. He served 22 months of a five-year prison term, but has not been arrested for anything since and now operates a barbershop and barber college in Dolton.
That case is pending in Cook County Circuit Court, as judges to date have refused to side with the state’s attorney — who contends that the felony conviction makes him ineligible to serve on a school board.
The case is scheduled to come before Associate Judge Rita M. Novak on Tuesday. She said she will try to issue a final ruling in the case as soon as possible.