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School News: D97 Referendum Suit Dismissed, OPRF Teachers to Return

Costly referendum lawsuit tossed; District 200 brings back 16 RIF'd teachers.

Both of Oak Park's school districts made headlines this week as an Illinois appellate court dismissed anfrom individuals who wanted to block District 97’s referendum from taking effect.

Shortly after voters approved the initiative in April 2011, sued, saying the language used on the ballot intentionally misled the voters about referendum’s impact on property taxes. Circuit Court Judge Mary Mikvathe suit on July 1, and an appeal was lodged later that month.

TUA could have taken advantage of several opportunities to file an appellate brief, but the group repeatedly failed to meet the court’s deadlines. That led to the dismissal on April 11, district officials said.

The district applauded the court’s decision.

“While it was unfortunate that forced the district to waste valuable resources that should have been invested in meeting the needs of the families we serve, we believed it was important to the decision the of this village made regarding the District 97 referendum—a measure that passed by nearly 1000 votes,” District 97 Board President Peter Barber said in a written statement.

Reached on Thursday, TUA attorney Andrew Spiegel said court snafus led to a breakdown in securing documents needed to file an appeal. He's filed a motion to reconsider the appeal and vacate the order dismissing the case

District 97 spent the equivalent of educating four students for a year - $52,235 – on legal fees, district officials said.

RIF Reinstatements

Over at District 200, 16 teachers who were given pink slips will return to this fall.

Much student and parent started forming when the district issued reduction in force notices to 21 teachers in March. According to TribLocal, none of them had tenure, and many were part-time instructors. Reduction in force is a common occurrence every spring as districts begin to set teaching rosters for the upcoming school year.

Bowing to that pressure, the District 200 school board voted 5-2 on April 16 to bring back all but five of them.

According to Wednesday Journal, school board president Dietra Millard said the board directed the administration to balance out the list of teachers brought back to include both part-timers with longer tenure at the school and some with shorter tenure.

Board members Sharon Patchak-Layman and Amy McCormack voted against the reinstatement because they said it did not go far enough, WJ reported.

TribLocal reported that Monday’s gathering was the second special meeting called by the board since student protests of dismissals drew widespread support from parents and community groups. , parents and students packed a school auditorium to voice their displeasure with the board over the dismissals.

Lionel May 17, 2012 at 01:50 AM
All of the teachers who got RIFed last year pending passage of the referendum--instrumental music, art, and world language--have been told their building assignment for next year is TBD (to be determined). General music and PE teachers have also been told their location for next year is TBD. So your child might have a different teacher next year in these subjects, even if their current teacher has excellent performance reviews.

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