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D227 rehires tenured teacher to allow for resignation

Updated: October 5, 2013 6:20AM



Months after the previous Rich Township High School District 227 Board fired a tenured teacher during the school year for allegedly making inappropriate comments in class, the board reversed its decision, paid the teacher $35,000 and let her resign as part of a legal settlement, records show.

The board approved the settlement with the former Rich Central High School teacher in August. The settlement stipulates that the district must provide a “neutral letter of recommendation” for her.

According to documents, former assistant Supt. for finance and operations Ilandus Hampton sent a letter to the teacher on March 1 suspending her for “inappropriate comments in class.”

She was not available for comment.

Former Supt. Donna Simpson Leak wrote the teacher a letter on April 9 informing her of a district hearing to be held the following day related to the charges against her, according to the letter. She also wrote that the remarks were made Feb. 27 during the teacher’s first-period special-education class.

The day after the hearing, Leak wrote the teacher again, saying she would recommend that the board fire her, according to the letter.

Former board President Betty Owens wrote a letter on April 16 criticizing the teacher’s conduct. The board fired her that night, with board members David Morgan and Cheryl Coleman voting against the decision.

“In the opinion of the Board of Education, you have engaged in conduct and actions that are immoral, irremediable, and render you unfit as a role model and unsuited and/or unqualified to teach in the School District, and which constitute sufficient cause for your dismissal,” Owens wrote. “The Board of Education has further determined that your dismissal is in the best interest of the School District and its students.”

Reached by phone, Owens said she stands by what she wrote, although Owens’ most recent vote was to reverse the August vote.

“You had a board of education that was in place at the time of her firing that differs from the board of education now,” Owens said.

She referred further questions to board President Cheryl Coleman.

The board majority changed in May, when new members were sworn in. Morgan and running mates Antoine Bass and Delores Woods all were re-elected, as was Owens, a frequent target of Morgan’s criticism. Owens’ running mates, Linda Jenkins, Quintella Bounds and Geneka Whitaker, were defeated.

Coleman, who was appointed board president, said the new board did a “thorough investigation.”

She declined to say what the teacher said or did that led to her firing or what was uncovered that led to the board reversing its decision.

The teacher, whose salary was nearly $80,000, signed a termination agreement July 28. The settlement stated that the board was rescinding its firing and letting the teacher resign.

The settlement also stated that the district would not contest the teacher’s application for unemployment compensation, that the teacher would not sue the district, and that the district would provide her a neutral letter of reference stating that she was employed as a district teacher from August 2008 through June 2013.

Furthermore, the district agreed to give the teacher $35,000, according to the settlement.



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