WHAT IS “CAUSE” UNDER ILLINOIS LAW WHEN TERMINATING A TEACHER?

Under Illinois law, a teacher who is past their probationary period cannot be removed except for cause. But what is cause?

Cause may be remediable or irremediable. Remediable conduct may include substandard teaching. Irremediable conduct may include conduct that is cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal or in any way causes psychological or physical harm to a student.

For example, in Ahmad v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, a teacher falsely represented herself as a school district agent to obtain over $33,000 in free school supplies from a nonprofit organization that she intended to sell for her own profit; concealed her conduct from the district and refused to cooperate in the investigation. The court held that the teacher’s conduct was immoral and thus, irremediable. Immoral conduct is defined as shameless conduct showing moral indifference to the opinions of the good and respectable members of the community.

In contrast, the court in Jackson v. Bd. of Educ. did not find conduct immoral where a teacher failed to list his discharge from a police department on his employment application and failed to immediately report testing irregularities. The court stated that the board had failed to prove that the omission was intentional. Nor did the board have a procedure on how irregularities could be reported.

If you are a teacher facing termination, contact an school law attorney immediately. (You may wish to seek representation from your union.) You are entitled to different procedures depending on whether your conduct was remediable. An attorney can help prepare your case for hearing and help to define whether your conduct was in fact cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois education matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

See: 105 ILCS 5/34-85.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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