Ousted District 229 School Trustee threatens lawsuit over his removal from office
Rob Cruz said in a letter to the District 229 board on Feb. 10, 2022 that they must reinstate him to his elected seat on the school board or face a lawsuit he plans to file by the end of the month.
Cruz, who is also a candidate running for the Republican nomination in the June 28 Republican Primary for the newly drawn 6th Congressional seat, was elected to the Oak Lawn School District 229 School board last April 2021. But at a Special meeting called Jan. 12, 2022, the board members voted to remove him claiming it did not require authorization from the regional superintendent.
The removal was based on charges by the District 229 board that Cruz violated his oath of office and board policy, and used his board position for personal gain and publicity for his congressional campaign. Cruz had filed a lawsuit first against Gov. J.B. Pritzker fighting the state’s policies on COVID, but later refiled it to include the board where he served, District 229.
District 229 is represented by veteran school board and municipal attorney Burton S. Odelson and Cruz is represented by Frank Avila, Jr.
“There is no provision in school code section 2.60 that allows removal by resolution”, said Avila asserted in a press release Monday Feb. 14, 2022.
“The state statute 105ILCS 5/3-15 and 105 ILCS 5/3-15.5 which specifically calls for the regional superintendent to make such removals. It does not state that any local board can remove an elected official by resolution only.”
According to Avila, Regional School Board Superintendent Vanessa Kinder had said she was ‘unaware’ of Board District’s 229 actions until she “heard it on the news.”
Cruz and Avila have given the District 229 board until the last day of February to reverse their action and schedule a hearing with the Regional Superintendent as prescribed in the law.
“Government overreach is out of control in Illinois, we must follow the law and the constitution in all matters if we want a livable, civil society”, said Cruz.
Meanwhile Cruz plans to attend the District 218 hearing tonight as well as a town hall meeting scheduled by patents, Tuesday from 7 to 9 p.m., at the local VFW on 9092 South Main Street in Hometown IL.
District 229 officials have said, though, that state law prohibits elected board members of government bodies are prohibited from filing lawsuits in their official capacity without discussion and action from other board members. No discussion was held with the District 229 board before Cruz filed his lawsuit against Pritzker over the COVID practices.
“I represented the district at District 229 to take him declare his office vacate on the board,” Odelson said. “He violated his oath of office which he swore to after being elected.”
Odelson said the bar is much higher for school board members under State of Illinois law because they represent the interests of students.