CHICAGO (STMW)– Despite public outrage and calls for his resignation, a west suburban school board president tied to a drug dealer and a motorcycle gang member, refused to step down on Wednesday night.
Jeff Pesek, president of Morton High School District 201, which serves thousands of students from Cicero and Berwyn, made a brief statement Wednesday to more than 150 parents, students and school employees, who attended a district board meeting, in which he denied any wrongdoing but refused to answer any questions.
Pesek said he would address in detail questions from parents in the coming weeks in meetings with them but did not want to distract from the work of the school board.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that Pesek testified last year under a grant of immunity from prosecution in the mob-bombing trial of reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Sarno and Sarno’s right-hand man, Mark Polchan, a high-ranking member of the Outlaw motorcycle gang. Both men were convicted at trial.
Pesek testified he was a close childhood friend of Polchan.
Pesek was caught on an FBI surveillance device in 2007 discussing Polchan’s fear of being arrested for the bombing and whether Pesek and his brother would post Polchan’s bond.
At the same trial, convicted major drug wholesaler Enrique “Henry” Rendon testified that he was a silent partner with Jeff Pesek in two businesses, a liquor store and bar in Cicero, and a downtown Chicago nightclub, called Ontourage.
At the school board meeting, Pesek decried the “gross inaccuracies” in the media coverage of him but did not specify any errors.
He said that grants of immunity from prosecution are typical in such cases and meant, in fact, he did nothing wrong.
“To infer that a grant of immunity raises questions that I did something wrong is simply not the case,” he said.
Pesek’s statement was met with scornful laughter and loud calls from parents and students for him to resign.
For many parents, the revelations about Pesek were only the latest blow to a troubled school district.
Parent Susan Zajac-Clark, of Berwyn, noted the school had a zero tolerance policy for students for gangs and drugs and wondered why the same policy did not apply to Pesek.
Her son, Zak Zajac, 18, a graduate of Morton West, asked the board this question.
“Which of the following is more likely? An appropriate amount of textbooks and teachers to service the students of District 201, or the same school board president being involved with a known cocaine dealer?”
Justin Wych, 17, a Morton West senior, said of Pesek: “I won’t be able to live with myself with his name on my diploma.”
After the board meeting ended, Pesek left the building from the back exit and waited until most parents had left before departing.
He refused to answer any questions when approached by a reporter.