SOUTH HOLLAND | Thornton Township High School District 205 board President Kenneth Williams is refusing to comment these days about an effort by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office to get him to step down from his post because of his criminal record.
Williams, during campaigns for the school board and a 2010 campaign for the Illinois House of Representatives against state Rep. Thaddeus Jones, D-Calumet City, never hid the fact he got into legal trouble when he was 20.
That trouble resulted in Williams, now 48, serving nearly three years in prison for a forgery conviction in Indiana. He still has a felony conviction on his record for what he has described in the past to The Times as “aiding and abetting” a crime.
But now that Williams has served one term on the high school board, including the last two years as board president, the state’s attorney's office claims state law prohibits a felon from serving and that action will be taken to remove him from the board.
The state’s attorney sent Williams a letter last month that tells him its office would prefer he voluntarily resign by Jan. 15, according to spokesman Andrew Conklin.
Williams on Monday would not discuss the issue, although he said eventually he would make his intentions known.
“When I put something together on that (issue), then I’ll contact you,” Williams said. His name is on the ballot for re-election in the April 9 elections for the District 205 school board.
On Wednesday, he was unavailable to comment.
Conklin said the state’s attorney’s office will file a lawsuit against Williams that would seek his removal if he does not resign. It would ask a judge to enforce laws that the state’s attorney’s office says prohibit convicted felons specifically from serving on school boards.
Anthony Bass, an attorney for the school district, said this week the state’s attorney’s office could take such action any time.
“It all rests with the state’s attorney at this point in time,” Bass said. “We’re waiting to see what they will do.”
The current effort by the state’s attorney’s office is separate from past efforts to remove him, said Art Burton, a school board member who often opposes Williams’ actions. “This is the first I have heard of (the state’s attorney involvement). We’re not involved with this.”
In 2011, a school board faction opposed to Williams’ leadership tried at one point to pressure him to resign. That faction eventually asked the regional superintendent of schools to conduct an investigation into Williams’ conduct in running the school board.
But Williams, who also is the founder of the Silk ‘n’ Classy barber college, 804 Sibley Blvd., in Dolton, survived that effort to remove him from the board.
During Williams’ time as president of the high school board, he tried to terminate the employment of the principals at Thornwood High School in South Holland and Thornton High School in Harvey, along with an acting superintendent and a business manager.
There also have been claims made against him by critics on the school board that Williams tried to sign purchase orders and put his name on the district’s checks — even though the law indicates it is the superintendent who has such authority.