Lawsuit: Woodland board member helped husband land school business
A business that previously sold spirit wear and athletic uniforms to Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 has filed a breach of contract lawsuit, claiming a company employing a board member's husband landed the school deals in its place.
Ink N' Tees Inc. of Waukegan and its owners, Steve and Kim Stams, contend in the suit filed Tuesday that board member Kellie Pappas influenced Woodland to direct business to her husband, James.
James Pappas is a sales representative with Hat World Inc., which operates in Illinois under the name Lids Team Sports.
Kellie Pappas said she's yet to see the lawsuit and could not comment on the specific allegations.
"While this is an unfortunate waste of taxpayer money due to a personal vendetta, the end result will show that this is personal and there have never been any ethical boundaries crossed by myself or the school district," she said in a written statement.
James Pappas said neither he nor his wife have done anything wrong. He said he first gained Woodland Middle School basketball uniform business well before his wife even filed nominating petitions to run for school board in last year's election. He earned the contract because he offered the best pricing, he said.
Pappas said he handles uniform and spirit wear business for at least 100 public and private suburban schools.
"I have nothing to hide," he said. "Everything I've done has been in the best interest of the school."
Woodland spokeswoman Jennifer Tempest Bova declined to comment, saying the district has yet to receive the suit.
Ink N. Tees attorney C. Jeffrey Thut also declined to comment, as did the Stams.
Woodland, the district's Parent Teacher Association, Kellie and James Pappas, and Hat World Inc. are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed in Lake County circuit court. The suit seeks more than $100,000 in damages.
According to court documents, Ink N' Tees began supplying Woodland with school spirit wear in 2003. Ink N' Tees also became the supplier of athletic team uniforms in 2012, Roar program clothing in 2009, and nonathletic, extracurricular spirit wear in 2005, the lawsuit states.
According to the suit, Kellie Pappas was PTA president in October 2014 when she met with Ink N' Tees regarding clothing sales for the upcoming year. While the PTA indicated it would take bids from spirit wear vendors in January 2015, the lawsuit says that process never occurred and Lids Team Sports received the contract.
Woodland agreed to buy athletic uniforms through Lids Team Sports in October 2014, and nonathletic clothing in spring 2015, according to the suit. Lids received spirit wear business for Woodland's Roar program in November 2015, the lawsuit claims.
Kellie Pappas resigned as president of the PTA and was elected to the Woodland school board in spring 2015.
Minutes from a Woodland board meeting in January show Kellie Pappas abstained on four votes awarding contracts for physical education and maintenance uniforms and spirit wear, which came after formal proposals were provided by companies seeking business. No contracts were given to Ink N' Tees or Lids Team Sports at that time.
Steve Stams of Ink N' Tees signed up to speak at public comment time at the Jan. 26 meeting but passed on the two opportunities, according to the minutes.