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March 31, 2021

Dear Dolton 149 Parents: At an emergency meeting on Monday, March 29, 2021, the Board of Education of Dolton School District 149 voted to remove one of its own members, Wilbur Tillman, after the district’s special counsel investigation found that Tillman had acquired from the district administration a list of school district vendors in order to solicit vendors for campaign contributions, violating district policy on “abuse of office.”

The board voted 6-0 on March 29 to recommend to the South Cook Intermediate Service Center, which oversees 66 public school districts in the region under the Illinois school code, that it initiate the process to formally remove Tillman from south suburban Dolton 149 school board. Tillman abstained on the vote.

The board vote this week to remove Tillman came after the board held another, earlier emergency meeting on March 8, 2021 and voted 5-1 then to hire special counsel, Montana & Welch, LLC, to investigate Tillman’s possible violation of school district policy regarding Tillman’s February 19, 2021 campaign fundraising letter to district vendors, using a vendor list obtained from district’s administrative personnel. Tillman voted against hiring the special counsel.

The special counsel’s three-week investigation found that Tillman had indeed violated school policy.

Obtaining the school district vendor list from district personnel for the express purpose of soliciting vendors for campaign cash is a serious abuse of office allegation that the other board members and board president had wanted thoroughly investigated. That investigation found that Tillman had violated the policy of prohibiting the use or direction of district resources and personnel for the purposes of political campaign activity, and that is why the six other board members, including the board president, took the next step and voted to remove Tillman because they want to send a message that the abuse of office by elected board members will not be tolerated at Dolton School District 149.

Tillman’s February 19 fundraising letter was explicitly addressed to businesses with contracts with the district: “Dear Valued Vendor … I cannot continue the work that I have set out to do without your help. May you please donate the amount of $1,000, $500, $250, $100 … Please make your check payable to ‘Friends & Residents of 149’ and mail your generous donation to: PO Box 1461, Calumet City, IL 60409.

Tillman was soliciting campaign cash to support his personally endorsed candidates in the April 6, 2021 school board election: Teresa Jemine, Timothy Meakens, and Mercedes Francisco.

Tillman has a first amendment right to solicit campaign contributions for his political friends. But there is bright, red, legal line when it comes to an elected official leveraging their government office to obtain government resources, in this case seeking from district personnel the school district vendor list, for the explicit purpose of raising cash for his friends’ political campaign.

At the Tuesday night board meeting, in acknowledgement of the violation, Tillman announced that he had deposited no contributions and would return all checks to vendors.

Finally, the Board of Education supports free and fair elections, but the Board of Education refuses to tolerate the abuse of office by elected school board members at Dolton School District 149. For bad behavior, there will be consequences. That is what we teach our students.



Board of Education Dolton School District 149


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