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Teacher’s hiring sparks outrage in Lyons

New SD103 English teacher charged with attempted murder

By Steve Metsch

Lyons Mayor Christopher Getty and other elected officials

are calling for sweeping changes at Lyons School District 103 after it was

learned a sixth-grade teacher who has been charged with attempted murder was

hired in August.

The controversy is over the hiring of Andres Rodriguez, who

in August was brought in to teach sixth-grade English at George Washington

Middle School.

In July 2017, Rodriguez, 40, was charged with seven counts

of attempted murder and a felony assault charge after he shot a motorist seven

times after a traffic altercation in Tinley Park. He is out on bond and

awaiting trial.

His arrest was discovered last week when a Google search by

another teacher found out about the shooting.

He was let go by two other school districts before being

hired by District 103.

News of his hiring has spread throughout the district and

brought a packed house to Monday night’s scheduled school board meeting.

The board immediately retreated into executive session

behind closed doors moments after the meeting was called to order.

Two board members, Jorge Torres and Michael Bennett, refused

to attend the executive session. Both sat at the board table to protest what

they said was the board’s attempt to avoid the issue.

“They changed the agenda at the last minute to misinform the

public,” Torres said.

Bennett said the board “is running away because they don’t

want to give answer. This is a little odd if you ask me.”

People came looking for answers, Bennett said. “It’s a stall

tactic, hope some people leave. Then they’ll come out and say they can’t talk

about the issues.”

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Thirty-eight minutes later, the rest of the board returned

to a packed house.

The sometime noisy meeting was split between those who

supported the school board and those who agreed with the changes advocated by

Getty and others.

Reading a statement after the meeting began, board President

Marge Hubacek said the board became aware of the criminal charges against

Rodriguez on Oct. 18 and placed him on administrative leave until a review is

completed. He is being paid, she said.

Community reaction was mixed once the board opened the

meeting to public comments with some supporting the board and others demanding

resignations.

One woman, who declined to give her name, said “the proper

steps were followed. The issue is he went under the table and lied to us. He’s

the issue, not the board.”

One man said he was “not happy with what happened,” but has

“every confidence in the board that they will do the right thing.”

Joi Conley, the mother of a student in the district, called

the board “unstable” noting four of six principals were replaced last year.

“How can the board be effective when the members rarely and,

in some ways appear to purposely, not see eye-to-eye? Conley said.

“Lyons School District 103 welcomed an extremely violent

person into our school district and gave him an open invitation and easy access

to our children, their teachers and other staff members to possibly commit

another heinous crime,” Conley said.

“Shame on all of you,” she added to applause. “Who will the

school board hold accountable for this preposterous decision?”

The board does not read job applications, board member

Shannon Johnson said. Hires are based on recommendations from staff and

principals, she said.

“If any of you would come to a board meeting more than once

ever,” Johnson said, “you’d know the correct process.”

Earlier in the meeting, Torres called on interim Supt.

Robert Madonia and the other interim Supt. Patrick Patt to resign, saying

they “failed the parents and students of District 103” by hiring Rodriguez.

Torres speculated that the school district officials knew

about Rodriguez’ past. “I think so because of the way he got put through,” he

said, but added he has “no clear evidence of that.”

Torres did not vote in favor of Rodriguez’ hiring because it

was included in a larger consent agenda and he was not comfortable voting

“yes.”

Bennett also said he’d like to see the board president and

interim superintendents resign: “That’s a good idea. It would help bring

confidence to the community that we’re going in the right direction.”

Earlier and down the street at the Lyons Public Library,

Getty and other officials called for swift action and spoke of state

legislation they say would prevent a hiring like this from ever happening

again.

Getty, the father of a young daughter, said that as a

parent, he is “outraged by the failure of this school district.”

“We must put measures in place at the state level to stop

individuals who are charged with heinous crimes from working in our schools

with our children,” Getty said.

“Shame on the school board. Shame on the school

superintendents for failing our children, for failing our community as a

whole,” said Getty, who also demanded that Hubacek resign.

“It’s a horrific case. Again, he fired seven shots

into a human being over road rage, standing over him and firing into him when

he was down, according to witnesses,” said Cook County Commissioner and McCook

Mayor Jeff Tobolski.

“We need to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Tobolski

said.

With that in mind, state Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-11th) will

be introducing legislation in Springfield.

“My outrage is directed toward the board chairman, Marge

Hubacek, who hired these two part-time interim superintendents.”

Sandoval is calling for clearer disclosure practices for

Illinois teachers after Rodriguez was allowed to teach in multiple suburban

school districts while facing charges of attempted murder.

“It’s troubling. It’s even more troubling that he could slip

through the cracks and be hired by another school district without disclosing

this charge,” Sandoval said.

Sandoval said he will direct the Illinois State Board of

Education to conduct an investigation into the hiring and disclosure practices

at the three school districts – Lyons, Joliet and Cicero – where Rodriguez was

employed.

“Failure of disclosure should be immediate grounds for

dismissal,” Sandoval said, urging the resignation of Hubacek and the firing of

the interim superintendents.

Tobolski said it would have been easy to check on Rodriguez’

background using a cell phone.

“We all have Google on our phones. I don’t care if the guy’s

name was Stash Rodriguez. If you Google Rodriguez, this guy’s picture comes

up,” Tobolski said.

“We need accountability. Let’s move forward and put

procedures in place so this doesn’t happen in the great community of Lyons

again,” Tobolski added.

Getty said “with this happening, we have to look at all the

hires.”

“We have to make sure there’s not an individual out there

who’s committed a crime, who is accused of crimes, that’s in our schools every

day teaching our children,” Getty said.

After Monday night’s board meeting, Hubacek and

Madonia said they had no plans to resign.

“It’s their right to speak,” Madonia said of the protestors.

“However, it’s premature until you know all the information. We have no

intention of resigning. We’re committed to this district. We’re committed to

the children.”

Hubacek said she “understands emotion, but I was elected by

the people. I wasn’t elected by the grandstanders.”

“There is needed legislation. I hope this will be an impetus

so we don’t run into this situation again,” she said. “We followed the protocol

we had. We did what we were supposed to do.”

Ê

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