CHICAGO – May 16, 2010. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation into law that eliminates the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education in the aftermath of its superintendent being arrested and indicted on 16 counts of official misconduct, theft and misapplication of funds.
“When it comes to the vital task of educating our children, we can never tolerate any doubts about the ethics and practices of public servants,” said Governor Quinn. “In this situation, the new law will put to rest any concerns taxpayers have about the operations of the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education, while enabling the system to move forward.”
The legislation (House Bill 16) closes the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education and transfers its responsibilities to three intermediate service centers throughout suburban Cook County. Those responsibilities include: processing teacher certifications; providing bus driver training; and performing background checks on employees. The office was the largest of its type in Illinois and served more than 140 school districts and approximately 25,000 teachers.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Sen. Maggie Crotty (D-Oak Forest). It goes into effect on July 1.
The legislation was spurred by the January 16 arrest and indictment of Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education Superintendent Charles Flowers on 16 counts of official misconduct, theft and misapplication of funds. The indictment alleges that, in the span of two years, Flowers skimmed nearly $400,000 from the office. In March, Flowers pleaded not guilty to the charges.
On May 7, Flowers resigned as superintendent and agreed to be relieved of his administrative certificates for the next four years, preventing him from holding any administrative positions in Illinois public schools. The agreement was approved by the Illinois State Teacher Certification Board. If convicted of a felony, Flowers will permanently lose his teaching and administrative licenses in Illinois.