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Prosecutors try to oust suburban school board member over past felony conviction

Joe Sherman

Joe Sherman

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Updated: July 6, 2013 6:42AM

The Cook County state’s attorney’s office moved Tuesday to remove a south suburban school board member from office because he’s been convicted of felony theft — the third time this year in which authorities have filed such a lawsuit against a local school board member.

Joe Louis Sherman, 47, a member of the Ford Heights Public School District 169 board, 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 Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier this month that he and two other Ford Heights board members, Mark Mitchell and James Coleman, have felonies.

On Tuesday, the state’s attorney’s office filed a lawsuit saying an elected school board position becomes vacant upon a conviction of an “infamous crime.” Theft is defined as an infamous crime, the lawsuit said.

“We’re taking the appropriate legal action,” said Sally Daly, spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, adding that her office is still deciding whether the law applies to Mitchell, who has a felony drug conviction, or Coleman, who has a felony gun conviction.

In January, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office filed a lawsuit to remove Thornton Township High School District 205 Board President Kenneth Williams from office. Williams was convicted of felony forgery in Indiana in 1985. A hearing is scheduled for June 19.

Also in January, the Illinois attorney general’s office filed a lawsuit to remove Janet Rogers from her position as board president of Harvey Public School District 152. But Rogers, who was convicted of felony theft and state benefits fraud, received a pardon from Gov. Pat Quinn in April, allowing her to keep the seat.

Repeated attempts to reach Sherman, Mitchell, Coleman and Williams for comment have been unsuccessful. In April, Rogers told the Sun-Times she was “ecstatic” about Quinn’s pardon.

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