LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — A conflict of interest charge was leveled against Lake Forest Community High School District 115 Board of Education candidate Dr. Tomas Nemickas, who said he was unaware of any impropriety.
The accusation was made by Jennifer Neubauer, another of the contenders for four available board seats, during a debate between seven of the eight candidates March 12 at the high school.
Neubauer said Nemickas, an orthopedic surgeon practicing at the Gurnee office of Illinois Bone and Joint Institute, is the managing partner and a member of the board of directors of the practice. She also said Illinois Bone and Joint has a contract to provide services to the district.
“He is the managing partner of the LLC and that makes him an owner,” said Neubauer in a DailyNorthShore.com interview. “He did not disclose this when he filed to run. He cannot be seated on the board.”
Nemickas said he was unaware of the existence of the contract until it was mentioned at the debate because it is with a different part of the organization where he has no contact. The contract is one for athletic trainer services between the district and the rehabilitation unit of Illinois Bone and Joint, he said.
“My division does not have a direct relationship with LFHS or any contracts with the Board of Education,” said Nemickas in an email to DNS. “Therefore, I was unaware of the athletic trainer contract. If elected, I will clarify the relationship on the statement of economic interests.”
All student athletes at the high school benefit from the trainers provided as a result of the contract, according to Nemickas. He said it provides for up to 1,400 hours of training during the school year.
The contract also provides for payment of $35,000 a year for the 1,400 hours, according to Neubauer. She said she has read the contract. She also said Illinois Bone and Joint will be paid $25 per hour for work performed in excess of 1,400 hours. The contract runs through July 31. Click here to read the contract.
“As an owner he cannot have a contract of that size with the board,” said Neubauer.
Nemickas said he is no longer the managing partner of his office or a member of the board. A campaign website of which he is a part still lists him as a board member.
“I resigned from the Board of Directors and Managing Partner of my division as of January 1, 2017,” said Nemickas. “This was done in hopes of winning the election and having time to fulfill all of the duties of the school board.”
Nemickas also said the contract only covers expenses and there is no profit built into it. He said he will do what is necessary to remove any conflict if he is elected.
“Expenses only cover salary and benefits, generating no profitable gain to IBJI,” said Nemickas. “If it is determined this is a conflict of interest, I will ensure it is resolved prior to my school board service.
The final decision will be made by the voters in the April 4 election. Early voting starts March 20 at Lake Forest City Hall. The other candidates are Sally Davis, Patrick Marshall, Ted Moorman, Lisa Mienville, Dave Lane and Cindy Good.