D210 Board Member Defends High-profile DUI Case: Does it Compromise the School District?
Should the responsibilities of a school board member be a consideration when it comes to the professional workplace?
Stephen White, a member of the Lincoln-Way High School District 210 Board of Education, made headlines with his defense of Carlton Fisk, the 64-year old retired White Sox player on a DUI charge in New Lenox. While Fisk's case came to a close Dec. 27—with one-year supervision—some readers debated White's position on the board.
Fisk, who paid $1,250 in court costs, was also ordered to complete an alcohol abuse program. Part of that program demands that he meet with select families that had lost loved ones due to drunken drivers.
"I know he is a former judge but really I don't know if it is a good idea to have someone who is involved in education of our children represent a DUI case," one commentor said. "Our schools have a program that tries to keep our children from drinking and here we have a board of education member in the news showing how he is working to get people off."
White didn't return calls seeking comment on some readers' concerns, but D210 Board President Arvid Johnson offered a measured response to comments that questioned whether or not it is appropriate for a popular defense attorney to sit on the board.
"He was elected by the citizens two years ago and has served as a board member since then," Johnson said. "Having his legal perspectives on the board is very helpful to us."
LWHS D210 Supt. Lawrence Wyllie said, "Steve White is as good a board member as we've ever had. Everyone on the board has a job."
Other people in the comments defended the ability to keep a job and board responsibilities separate:
- "School board members do not get paid so they need to keep their "day jobs". If his day job is representing defendants as an attorney, this is what he has to do. Besides, a DUI defendant has the right to an attorney."
- "Former Chief Judge Steve White is an outstanding lawyer. No wonder he attracts star clients. Remember, every person, guilty or innocent is entitled to his 6th Amendment Constitutionally protected right to assistance of counsel."
While some people agreed with those points, they said White could have opted to not take the case:
- "Steve White should have shown better judgment and declined to represent him on these types of charges. Somebody else would have done it."
- "As a member of the Lincoln-Way School Board, Judge White would have no problem seeing a student expelled if a dog sniffed out pot in a student's car after the student allowed one of his buddy's to use the car and the buddy dropped some pot in it. Why the double standard?"
Board members' occupations are taken into account when judging their qualifications, and a diverse set of backgrounds can help a board. But should there be any restrictions for board members? Tell us in the comments.
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