District 150 Public Schools will give five discharged teachers $15,000 and the right to retire, after they were let go for poor performance last spring. The district reached an agreement with the teachers union Monday.
District attorney Stan Eisenhammer said Senate Bill 7, a state law, allows the school board to let teachers go based on performance, not tenure. Eisenhammer told WMBD 31 the district believed some teachers might sue anyway. So it offered them cash to prevent that from happening.
Seven teachers were offered settlements. Two teachers, Eymarde Lawler and Michelle Frakes, refused to take the money and filed a lawsuit against the district last Tuesday. They claim tenured teachers were denied their right to remediation.
Eisenhammer said the district followed the law and the district offered the cash to make layoffs a little easier. He said similar settlements are happening across the state.
"It gives some recognition to these long term, senior teachers for the work that they do and allows them to resign with dignity," Eisenhammer said.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that towards the end of my career, I would be faced with this. I absolutely love teaching. It's a passion that I have, and it's been taken from me. It's been taken from me," said Eymarde Lawler.
Lawler and Frakes also filed individual lawsuits against the district. Eisenhammer said they will not win.
The district is working with the union to keep this from happening in the future. However, Eisenhammer said it is possible the district could pay off teachers next year.