Teachers turn out, support colleagues labeled ‘do not hire’

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Current and former teachers came out in force at the October board meeting to support a cadre of their out-of-work colleagues who feel they were unfairly labeled as “not recommended” when they tried to reapply for jobs this summer.

Current and former teachers came out in force at the October board meeting to support a cadre of their out-of-work colleagues who feel they were unfairly labeled as “not recommended” when they tried to reapply for jobs this summer.

CPS officials confirmed in September that they had National Board Certified teachers review applications and label them with “recommended,” “not recommended” and “recommended with reservation.”  Officials said about half of the applications, some of which came from recently laid-off teachers were labeled as not recommended or recommended with reservations.

Though CPS said that principals could decide on their own whether to take heed of the labels, teachers say they have felt it prevented them from getting hired.

When Cezar Simeon, a former elementary school teacher, rose to speak to the board, 20 or so teachers stood with him. He pleaded with the board to do away with the practice of marking teachers “do not hire.” 

“I understand that the ‘do not hire’ status may be necessary when it comes to preventing employees who have committed theft, abuse and egregious acts from committing those acts elsewhere in the system, but I assure you I committed no such crime,” he said.

Board members did not respond to his comments or the comments of the three other teachers who spoke.

Also at the meeting:

Ald. Richard Mell (33rd Ward) and Principal John Price of Audubon Elementary School both spoke on behalf of the proposed expansion of Audubon Elementary to include a high school.

“Parents of students with disabilities spoke of their hopelessness in finding an inclusion program for their children at the high school level, and their fear that without that commitment to inclusion, the dramatic progress that their children have seen in Audubon would disappear,” Price said.

Mell called the move a rare opportunity for his community to see a quality high school in the area.  

“This opportunity is so important to the kids in my community, who can’t possibly get into Payton, or Northside Prep, or Lane, or the fantastic schools that we offer,” said Mell.

The board also gave the OK for a plan to end the sit-in of Whittier Elementary parents seeking a library for their school.

CEO Ron Huberman gave an update on the status of the controversy, saying that in the most recent meeting with the parent committee it was decided that officials would assess the field house within the next month to determine how to bring it up to safety standards. 

The plan is to redirect tax increment financing money, originally slated for the construction of a soccer field at Whittier, toward renovating the field house. But the location of the library, which parents want in the field house, has not yet been decided.