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Flowers gets eviction notice

Thursday, October 08, 2009
by Duaa Eldeib

For rent: A spacious office with a brick exterior located along the quiet residential streets of Westchester. Only tenants who will actually pay rent need apply.

The landlord for Supt. Charles Flowers' regional schools office served him with an eviction notice last week.

In June, the SouthtownStar reported that Flowers owed nearly $20,000 in back rent for the Suburban Cook County Regional Office of Education's office space. At that time the agency had only made one payment since January.

A month later, the Westchester School District 92 1 / 2 Board formally notified the office of the "outstanding" rent due, according to a statement issued by the district.

Flowers' office, which has amassed about $1 million of debt, then proposed a rent payment plan that would allow it to repay in installments the entire amount owed to the district by Aug. 21.

Not only did Flowers' office fail to meet that deadline, but the statement confirms the regional office fell nearly three months behind on rent.

"We did try to work with him. We were initially understanding. We agreed to a payment plan," board president Barbara Stanger said. "I guess we had hoped it would work out, and it didn't."

Monthly rent for 2008 was $3,300 and $3,429 in 2009, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

In the meantime, the Cook County state's attorney's office is suing Flowers to recoup $190,000, plus interest and punitive damages, for a loan Flowers took out in June of last year.

The lawsuit alleges Flowers engaged in a scheme to defraud Cook County and avoided officials.

It is unclear what an eviction would mean to the countless teachers from 143 suburban districts who frequent the office for teacher certifications, registrations and fingerprinting.

"We do not know right now what the eviction notice means for the services the ROE provides other than that, legally, the ROE would still be required to provide those services," Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said.

"No, we do not know of any other ROE that has ever been evicted," she added.

Flowers is the target of a state's attorney's criminal probe for alleged ethical and financial misconduct, first reported in the SouthtownStar.

When contacted by a reporter Wednesday, Flowers' assistant - who is also his sister - said he was in a meeting.

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