Editorial: High time to step aside
Editorials January 4, 2013 7:00PM
Janet Rogers, president, Harvey School District 152.
Updated: February 7, 2013 6:33AM
Every student knows you don’t ignore a note from the principal.
So we hope two school board presidents with felony backgrounds will pay attention to letters from authorities saying it’s time to step down.
In one case — nine years after the Illinois attorney general went after a Harvey school board member and teacher for felony theft and state benefits fraud — that same person, Janet Rogers, is today president of the Harvey School District 152 board.
In the other case, Kenneth Williams remains president of the Thornton Township High School District 201 board even though he was convicted of forgery in 1985.
They don’t belong in those jobs. Last May, an Illinois appellate court ruled that felons can’t sit on school boards.
On Friday, the Illinois attorney general’s office sent Rogers a letter saying she needs to step down. According to the letter, “[A]n individual convicted of an infamous crime is thereafter prohibited from holding public office of any school district absent pardon or other provision of law.” The letter says Rogers must resign by Jan. 18 or the attorney general will file a suit seeking her removal.
Last month, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office — which shares legal authority in this area of the law — sent Williams a similar letter demanding he resign by Jan. 15.
In 2002, Rogers — then named Janet Thompson — was convicted of felony theft and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, fined $7,000 and ordered to pay $10,000. At the time, the convictions cost her a Harvey school board seat, but she later was re-elected to the board.
Rogers’ attorneys argue she has a legal right to be school board president.
But neither she nor Williams does.
Both of them betrayed the public trust and do not belong on school boards. They have the letters. Let’s hope they also get the message.