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Despite protests, D-54 board dismisses teacher

Published: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 10:41 p.m. CDT
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(HEIDI LITCHFIELD – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Several students who attended Monday's District 54 board meeting came out to support and speak in favor of their former teacher, Chris Bachmann.

MORRIS – About 30 residents came to Monday’s District 54 school board meeting to protest the dismissal of eighth-grade Shabbona Middle School science teacher Chris Bachmann.

About 21 of those supporters were former students.

“It’s a huge mistake,” parent Laurie Wantland said during public comment before the board went into closed session to discuss the dismissal. “He has respect for students and students respect him.

“Think about what a good teacher you are letting go,” she continued.

Wantland said Bachmann is a good male role model to students and goes above and beyond for them, including offering them tutoring.

Numerous other people, many former students of Bachmann, spoke in the teacher’s defense. Bachmann has been at the school for four years. Tenure often is granted after an educator spends four entire academic years teaching at one school.

Superintendent Teri Shaw said Monday the district can not comment on personnel issues and therefore declined to comment on why the teacher was being dismissed.

Despite the pleas from the former students, many wearing shirts supporting the teacher, the board voted 5 to 2 to dismiss Bachmann. Board members Jerald White and Bonnie Cap voted against his dismissal.

Bachmann was not present at the board meeting. He will finish out the rest of the school year.

Attempts on Tuesday to reach Bachmann were not successful.

Morris Community High School junior Tristan DeGrush told the board beforethe vote that he was in Bachmann’s class during Bachmann’s first year of teaching at Shabbona.

“Of all my teachers I’ve had throughout the years, he inspired me to look at a career in chemistry,” DeGrush said.

Another student questioned how Bachmann was evaluated.

“I understand the way you evaluate teachers you sit in the class for one period,” said Maria Blanco, freshman at MCHS.

She said students who sat through all of his classes know he is a good teacher, and not just from a small glimpse of his teaching.

Katlin Cap, a freshman at MCHS, told the board how Bachmann affected her as a coach in soccer.

“He took time out of his schedule to coach us, he took time away from his wife and two kids,” she said. “I think it would be ridiculous to let him go.”

The board also approved the non-renewal of third-grade teacher Dan Kizior with a 6 to 1 vote with White voting against.

This was Kizior’s first year as a teacher at District 54.

“Typically they are a non-renewal in their first couple of years if they are going to be let go,” Shaw said. “But we dismissed someone else in their fourth year, two years ago.”

Bachmann’s dismissal was the second time since 2008 that the district has let a teacher go in their fourth year, just prior to tenure, Shaw said.

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