CAN A TEACHER BE DISMISSED FOR VIOLATING SCHOOL RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS?

The answer is yes, but it is important to read your school district’s policies carefully to understand all the ins and outs of the rules.

For example, the Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual Sec. 502.1 requires teachers hired after November 20, 1996 to move into the City within six months from the day their employment begins unless they have otherwise been granted a waiver. The Board considers any tenured teacher who intentionally lies by act or omission about their residency to have engaged in irremediable conduct and may be dismissed without warning. Where no misrepresentations have occurred, the Board may still dismiss a teacher who does not move to the city after a warning giving the teacher 60 days to comply.

A teacher can apply for a waiver of the residency requirement at the time of hire for special needs positions. These waivers must be renewed every three years.

Any teacher hired before November 20, 1996 who has remained continuously employed by the Board need not live in the city. However, if the teacher has a break in service, he or she will be regarded as a new employee and will be required to move to Chicago within six months.

Illinois law defines residency as physical presence in the district along with an intent to make the district your permanent home. Generally, this means your fixed nighttime abode. The Chicago Board of Education defines “Residency” as an employee’s domicile, the one actual place where an employee lives and has his or her true, permanent home to which, whenever he or she is absent, he or she has an intention of returning. Merely owning a building where you pay taxes does not establish residency.

The fluid nature of a modern family’s living situation can confuse a school district and result in a residency challenge, such as where a teacher is starting or ending a marriage.

The Chicago Employee Discipline And Due Process Policy For Union, Sec. 500A1 contains a policy regarding staleness where the Board waives its right to discipline an employee if the Board fails to act within a reasonable time after it should have known of the rule’s infraction. Unfortunately, in Crowley v. Bd. of Educ., the Court rejected this defense stating that two teachers’ residence outside the district formed a continuing violation of the residency rule. It is possible, however, that the staleness policy might apply to a different set of facts.

If you are a teacher facing a residency challenge, contact an education law attorney (unless you prefer to use your union’s representation). An attorney can help you present your case in its most favorable light before an administrative hearing judge. It is critical that any available evidence is introduced at the administrative level in order to provide a strong record in case an appeal becomes necessary.

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.

(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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