CHICAGO | A Cook County judge scheduled a hearing next week over a disputed appointment to the Thornton Township High School District 205 Board of Education, and said he may rule on the case at that time.
Judge Moshe Jacobius, who is presiding over the lawsuit challenging South Cook Intermediate Service Center’s authority to fill a school board vacancy, said Monday the current divisions in the six-member board are interfering with district business.
“The thought of that board deadlocked for another year (until the April 2015 municipal election), that is what bothers me the most about this case,” Jacobius said.
The judge scheduled a hearing for April 1 at his Daley Center courtroom, at which time he said he will hear arguments from attorneys in the case. He suggested a ruling could come shortly thereafter. George Jackson, an attorney for three school board members aligned with former board President Kenneth Williams, said he would expect a ruling that very day.
The school board fight began last year when a different Cook County judge ordered Williams removed from the board because of a 29-year-old felony conviction in Allen County, Ind. Williams recently had the conviction expunged from his record.
His removal from the board changed the 4-3 partisan split that favored Williams to a tie. When the Chicago Heights-based service center tried to appoint Ray C. Banks of Harvey to fill the vacancy, the remaining board members aligned with Williams filed the lawsuit because Banks is a former school board member who says he would support the faction that opposed Williams, giving them a 4-3 majority.
Jacobius has said he would prefer the school board to reach agreement on a replacement, and he met with four of the school board members last week to try to negotiate a compromise. None was reached, although school district attorney Andrew Finko said he thought some progress was made in those talks.
Jacobius on Monday said he was not pleased. “I did my darndest,” the judge said. “I did all I could do. I can’t do any more.”
The judge said he would prefer the school board, on its own, come to him next Tuesday and inform him they had picked a replacement, but added he does not expect that to happen.
Edward Crayton, a school board member opposed to Williams, and Toni Williams, the wife of Kenneth Williams who is one of his board supporters, both said they wish it were possible to settle this out of court.
“We need a seventh board member now,” Crayton said, while Toni Williams said it would take a special meeting of the school board to try such an action, and that no such meeting was scheduled as of Monday.
Of a special meeting, Toni Williams said, “I’m not against doing that.”