According to the Daily Southtown, a quiet Charles Flowers sat sandwiched Monday between landlords accused of keeping derelict buildings and tenants with stories of rent checks lost in the mail.
The regional schools chief appeared in eviction court Monday - the deadline to move out of the Westchester space his office leased and pay more than $10,000 in back rent. But before standing in front of the judge, Flowers and the folks of Westchester School District 92 1 / 2 had reached an agreement the judge signed off on.
Flowers, who voluntarily moved out of the school's building Friday, gets 120 days to pay the $10,762 in back rent he owes the district.
School district attorney Jeff Goelitz said Flowers blamed his inability to pay the rent on late payments from the state.
"If they receive the money from the state, they have to pay up within 24 hours of receipt of it," Goelitz said.
Flowers' office is nearly $1 million in debt, according to a state audit. The Cook County state's attorney's office is investigating Flowers for alleged financial and ethical misdeeds and suing him for defaulting on a $190,000 taxpayer-backed loan.
The new location for the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education is at 2600 S. 25th Ave. in Broadview. The regional office's corner space in the two-story office building - which backs up to a warehouse and is flanked by a nearby trucking company's semi trucks - was open to the public Monday.
Flowers' office has been paying back rent in installments, according to documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. In July, he was about $20,000 behind on rent for February through July.
State law requires the county board in every county except Cook to provide a suitable space for the regional office. The state hasn't paid out the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education or any other regional office of education since July 1, Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.
The state has set aside more than $70,000 in state grant money for Flowers' office, but the comptroller has yet to cut the checks, Fergus said.
"We're backlogged over $3 billion in bills going back to the first of August because the revenues just aren't there," Illinois Comptroller Dan Hynes' spokesman Alan Henry said. "I'm sure (Flowers' office is) in the queue somewhere. I'm not sure when they'll get the money."
Flowers, who did not answer a reporter's questions Monday, is due back in court Feb. 8. If he hasn't paid up in 120 days, it's up to the school district to take the next step.
"The board's option would be to go to court to ask the (regional office of education) to make good on the order, to pay up," Goelitz said. "We haven't had that discussion yet."