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Lost job after reporting simple abuse of a student... Former Assistant Principal Wins Million Dollar Case against Board of Education

Kenneth Taylor, a former assistant principal at Goodlow Elementary School in Englewood, thought he was doing his job when he reported an alleged abuse of a student by another teacher. It was reported that a teacher at the school tripped a student who then hit his head on the ground. So Taylor immediately took corrective action as outlined in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) handbook and reported the incident to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and his principal, said his attorney David Hemenway.

Apparently this upset his principal who later lowered his ratings before firing him, Hemenway said.

Last week a jury agreed that Taylor’s dismissal was retaliation and awarded him $1.05 million for lost wages and benefits and suffering, Hemenway said.

Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for the Chicago Board of Education, told Substance News that CPS is appealing the case and has no comment at this time.

According to Hemenway, the teacher who allegedly tripped the child was modeling bad behavior and disputed the fact that the student hit his head. He said the principal agreed with the teacher that this was an unfounded report of abuse.

The question was not whether or not the teacher was guilty, Hemenway said, but whether Taylor followed the Chicago Board of Education’s policy.

Hemenway said the incident occurred on May 16, 2007, and the following year Taylor’s evaluation rating was lowered, with mishandling the DCFS case listed as one of the reasons.

In 2008, Taylor was out on medical leave after being injured when breaking up a student fight. He was then notified that his position was closed out. After contacting the CPS Law Deartment,Taylor was reinstated, but was then fired at the end of the school year in 2009, Hemenway said.

Taylor had filed a complaint in 2008 with the Labor Relations Board, Hemenway said. The Board of Education's legal department investigated the case and concluded that Taylor was not retaliated against and had made a false statement of suspected abuse, his lawyer said.

However, the investigators never interviewed Taylor or the teacher about the incident, Hemenway said. “I’m amazed how it got this far,” Hemenway said by phone. “They lower his rating, yet the law department tells him he had to report the incident. The Board backs the principal, but this was clear retaliation.”

After a seven-day trial, the jury awarded the million dollar verdict against the Chicago Board of Education on June 13, 2012, Hemenway said. The award included $600,500 in lost wages, benefits and pension, with the rest awarded for emotional distress for the discharge, including $100,000 for other retaliatory actions from the discharge, Hemenway said.

Hemenway said this retaliation case did not fall under the whistle blower act which became law in January, 2008, after the Taylor incident occurred.

Taylor has worked for the Board of Education since 1990, became an assistant principal at Goodlow in 2001, having served two four-year terms with the principal, and previously received excellent evaluations, Hemenway said.

Taylor is currently substitute teaching in the city and the suburbs, Hemenway said. Taylor’s dismissal is currently listed as an honorable termination, and he is not on the infamous Do Not Hire list, his lawyer added.

“This was an unusually high award,” said Hemenway, a labor lawyer who previously worked in the Chicago Board of Ed’s legal department. “It’s frustrating. The Board of Ed has the right policies in place and trainings. Mr. Taylor did what he was supposed to do, and yet this still happened. It was just clear out retaliation.”



Comments:

November 26, 2017 at 1:01 AM

By: Alita Jones- Richard

Former Assitant Principal Won A Milliom Dollar Case Against Board of Education

I am elated to hear Kenneth Taylor prevailed in his litigation against the Chicago Board of Education. I can attest to the on going relentless harassment, intimidation, discrimination, and violation of the contract bargaining agreement, my civil rights, employee benefit act, and tort laws by the Chicago Board of Education.

I was assaulted while on duty when a student pushed me down the stairs and stepped on me in 1997. I provided documents and evidence to Chicago Teachers Union, Illinois Education Labor Relations, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Labor, and the Attorney General's Office/Freedom of Information Access of the violations, retaliation, and abuse. Consequently, the agencies could not find any wrong and failed to ask CBOE to produce the requested documents, such as, return to work release.

However, February 13, 2015 arbitrator ruled in my favor and cited, in his opinion that the assault/ injury were causal related. Nevertheless, my case is on judicial review. I have viewed the record and it appeared to be tampered. I also have a fraud case against the Board of Education for making false statements and changing my salary, years of service and terminating my benefits. I also experienced closing of my position letter based on a false statement by the CBOE. I would like to have an investigative reporter to contact me and investigate this unfair practice and put an end to this bullying and civil collusion.

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