Taft High School, Chicago | Taft High School Facebook page
The Chicago Board of Education has asked a judge to bar a group from continuing to raise funds in the name of William Howard Taft High School, as the school board has accused the Taft High School Foundation of mismanaging funds raised allegedly to benefit the high school, while using the Taft High School name and public images without permission.
On Oct. 15, the Chicago Board of Education filed suit in Cook County Circuit Court against the group now known both as the William Howard Taft Hall of Fame Foundation and the Taft High School Foundation. The lawsuit also named as a defendant Richard Winge, a Taft High School alumnus, identified in the complaint as the founder and president of the foundation.
The complaint took aim at fundraising activities carried out by the Taft High School Foundation since it was first organized in 2013.
According to the complaint, the foundation was organized “to benefit and supplement the regular educational programs offered students” of Taft High School, which is located in the 6500 block of West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Chicago’s Norwood Park neighborhood on the city’s northwest side.
However, the complaint alleges the Taft High School Foundation has not lived up to its goals, and has not delivered the funds to the high school, as it allegedly had claimed it would.
The complaint does not specify what the Board of Education believes the Foundation did with the money. But the lawsuit accuses the Foundation of having “solicited and collected charitable donations for purposes other than” the Foundation’s “stated and approved exempt purpose,” and of having “failed to disburse charitable donations to Taft High School” despite raising the funds in the name of the high school.
The lawsuit further accuses the Foundation of “willful, wanton and/or reckless mismanagement” of the Foundation and its funds, and of improperly using the high school’s name and “service marks” without authorization.
The complaint alleges the Board of Education sent a letter to the Foundation, demanding it cease and desist from activities using the name of the high school, but as of Oct. 15, the Foundation had refused to do so.
The complaint asked the court to prohibit the Foundation from continuing with a fundraiser scheduled for Oct. 20.
The complaint said allowing the defendants to continue using the Taft High School “Marks dilutes the distinctiveness of Plaintiff’s Taft High School Marks and tarnishes the reputation of the Taft High School Marks.”
The school board has asked the court to order an accounting of the Foundation’s “illegally derived proceeds” and order the Foundation to “pay … any monies owing as a result of such accounting.” The school board also asked the court to order the Foundation to stop using the high school’s name and “service marks.” The complaint also asks the court to order the Foundation to “pay … damages caused by the infringement” on the name and marks of the high school.
The school board is represented by attorneys from the Board of Education’s Law Department.