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Judge ousts Thornton H.S. District 205 board president over felony

ThorntTownship High School District 205 School Board President Kenneth Williams. | Provided photo

Thornton Township High School District 205 School Board President Kenneth Williams. | Provided photo

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Updated: November 25, 2013 1:11PM

A Cook County judge ousted the Thornton High School District 205 board president Wednesday because he’s a felon — one of at least five felons the Chicago Sun-Times has identified as sitting on south suburban school boards.

Kenneth Williams was found ineligible to hold the office after the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office received a complaint about his past.

Williams, 49, was convicted of aiding and abetting forgery in Indiana in 1985. His conviction was for an “infamous crime” that disqualifies him from serving on the board under the state’s school and election codes, Judge Rita Novak ruled.

“Mr. Williams has not shown that he is entitled to retain his office,” Novak said.

Williams accused State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of “selective targeting and prosecution of African-American leaders.” He noted he was re-elected in April, four months after Alvarez sued to remove him. He also pointed out that his crime was nonviolent.

An Alvarez spokeswoman called Williams’ comments “inflammatory.”

“This case has been litigated for nearly one year in a court of law and clearly Mr. Williams is not pleased with the court’s ruling that has categorically denied his arguments and ousted him from office. His inflammatory comments are not only untrue, they are reprehensible,” Sally Daly said.

Williams said he will seek to have the ruling reconsidered “to allow the people’s vote to count.”

“The taxpayers of District 205 have spoken loud and clear, not once but on two occasions, in April 2009 and again in 2013,” he said.

Several board members supported the effort to oust Williams. On Jan. 11, they sent a letter to Alvarez saying Williams and two other board members — including Williams’ wife — were trying to control the district’s finances and “to employ family and friends.”

“The aggressive actions by this group must be stopped,” wrote Edward Crayton, Ray Banks and Arthur Burton.

Williams — a barber and cosmetology teacher — is among a string of south suburban school officials with felony backgrounds.

Last year, the Sun-Times reported that Harvey District 152 board president Janet Rogers was also a convicted felon. In 2002, she was convicted of theft and state benefits fraud and sentenced to 180 days in jail. But Gov. Quinn pardoned Rogers in April, allowing her to stay in office.

Earlier this year, the Sun-Times reported three members of the Ford Heights Public School District 169 board are felons. Among them, Joe Louis Sherman pleaded guilty in 1998 to retail theft and was sentenced to probation. He stole alcohol and cigarettes from a Jewel-Osco, court records show. The state’s attorney’s office filed a lawsuit to remove Sherman from office. The case is pending.

Two other Ford Heights board members, Mark Mitchell and James Coleman, have felonies, too. The state’s attorney’s office has been studying whether the law bars them from office. Mitchell has a drug conviction; Coleman, a gun conviction.


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