DOLTON, Ill. (CBS) — A huge controversy has erupted at a school board in the south suburbs.
Dolton School District 149 voted to oust a current school board member for illegal campaign funding – and he’s not even up for reelection.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Winter Weather Advisory Issued For Illinois, 1-3 Inches Possible
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, the school board member in question, Wilbur Tillman, was trying to get three new members elected. That attempt is what just may force him to lose his own seat.
Tillman has served on the school board in Dolton since 2015, and if fellow board members get their way, he won’t stay much longer.
“It was a big, bright red line that was crossed,” said Dolton School District 149 spokesman David Ormsby.
At issue is a letter sent to every school district vendor, soliciting money for the campaign of three school board candidates. All three are looking to unseat incumbent members next Tuesday.
“The board is very clear on its policy about abuse of office,” Ormsby said.
Ormsby told Terry the problem popped up earlier this year. Tillman requested district employees compile a list of every district vendor – for the sole purpose of campaigning.
“He has a First Amendment right to solicit campaign contributions,” Ormsby said. “It is about how he went about getting the list, because he used his office to compel school personnel to put it together and give it to him for the explicit purpose of campaign cash.”
When the district employees made the list, tax dollars were used for campaigning.READ MORE: Bradley Police Officer Tyler Bailey Shot In The Line Of Duty Moved From ICU To Standard Care According To Statement From Family
This week at an emergency meeting, Tillman objected to the board’s vote to oust him.
“I’m just really trying to figure out how we went from a discussion to a motion right here,” Tillman said at the meeting.
The emergency meeting came after an independent review found he violated his oath of office.
Instead, Tillman’s attorney, Keith Spence, said his client made an unintentional mistake. He talked about what Tillman would do now with all the money raised.
“He has deposited no checks received from any vendor, and he will not – he will disclose any checks received, and they will be returned,” Spence said.
Ormsby responded, “It’s an acknowledgment on his part that what was done was done wrong.”
The board voted unanimously to remove Tillman on Monday. Parents were sent a letter about the vote and the allegations against Tillman.
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Now, the South Cook Intermediate Service Center – the regional body that oversees the district – must take up a hearing to review. There is now timeline as to when that will happen.