Lyons Township High School District 204 officials say that the Lyons Township School Treasurer’s Office, commonly known as the TTO, is withholding $6 million as the high school breaks with the TTO following a ruling in a protracted lawsuit.

By July 1, the TTO had transferred by bulk of LTHS’s reserves — about $41.8 million — to begin the separation process. But LTHS Superintendent Brian Waterman says the TTO still has $6 million of the high school district’s money. 

According to Waterman, the TTO is saying they are withholding the funds for unreconciled activity as the TTO closes out the books on LTHS. Waterman says LTHS asked the TTO on July 2 for an explanation about the withheld $6 million.

“We have communicated with them our concern about the $6 million they withheld, [and we] have not received a response yet,” Waterman said. 

LTHS is withdrawing from the TTO, as it allowed to do under state law, following the verdict in the TTO’s long running lawsuit against LTHS. On May 21 Cook County Judge Jerry Esrig ordered the high school district to pay about $765,000 to the TTO for withheld fees since the lawsuit was filed in 2013. The ruling denied the TTO’s major claims for nearly $6 million in unpaid and underpaid fees it claimed LTHS owed from 2000 through 2012. 

The TTO did not appeal the ruling, and the LTHS school board unanimously approved a resolution to withdraw from the agency, which manages money for local school districts. State law requires the separation to be completed within 90 days which would be the end of September.

Waterman said he is not sure whether LTHS is entitled to the entire $6 million that the TTO is withholding.

“That’s a hard question to answer because in addition to them we’re also in the reconciliation process as well,” Waterman said. “We acknowledge that there’s going to some outstanding items to reconcile, so we think the $6 million is excessive.”

Waterman is concerned that he has not received any answers from the TTO about the status of the $6 million.

“We certainly understand that it might take some time to receive a response, but we would have anticipated to get a response before now,” Waterman said.

Neither TTO Treasurer Ken Getty nor Mike Thiessen, the president of the agency’s board of trustees, replied to a request for comment from the Landmark.

Last week, a frustrated Waterman wrote a letter to other school superintendents in Lyons Township alerting them to the issue in what appears to be an attempt to put some pressure on the TTO.

“LT is concerned that the TTO’s actions to withhold $6 million of LT’s funds, and its lack of responsiveness to LT’s request, will lead to further litigation,” Waterman wrote to his fellow superintendents. “LT is also concerned that any future litigation between the TTO and LT, involving the $6 million being withheld, could involve TTO member districts.”

The TTO’s lawsuit against LTHS was very expensive. The TTO spent approximately $4 million in legal fees during the eight-year run of the lawsuit, a cost incurred by member districts, because the TTO raises no revenue on its own and its operations are funded by its members.