The forces seeking to exploit Lyons-Brookfield District 103’s hiring of a man accused of attempted murder got the spectacle they were hoping for on Oct. 22.
The outrage, fanned on social media and by fliers, circulated around town by opponents of the District 103 school board majority after word got out late last week, even drew cameras from a couple of local TV news operations.
A powerful state senator called on the district’s two interim superintendents to resign.
All in all, mission accomplished.
Here’s the thing: We’ve already seen the track record of those opposed to the board majority and we’ve seen how little the remaining minority members seem to care about performing the jobs they were elected to do.
If that’s the solution — to usher that group back into power — count us out. It was never about kids. It’s about power.
But let’s go to the transgression and address it.
The school district hired a man accused in 2017 of attempted murder in Tinley Park. That’s not good.
Clearly, the screening process for teachers in D103, and apparently elsewhere, is lacking. How else do you explain how the teacher, Andres Rodriguez, was able to work in Cicero District 99 for most of the 2017-18 school year before that administration found out he’d been charged with attempted murder? According to a Chicago Tribune report in May, Cicero had hired him two weeks before the shooting incident and never found out about it.
Even more remarkable, the teacher was still technically employed in Joliet at the time of the incident. That district immediately put the teacher on paid leave, but no one ever told Cicero, where he began working two weeks later. It’s unclear if both districts were paying him at the same time.
Martin Sandoval, the state senator who called for the D103 superintendents to resign, put out a press release Monday calling for more stringent background checks for teachers, in an obvious response to the existing system, which D103 did not create, that allows people like this to slip through the cracks.
We don’t recall Sandoval calling for heads in Cicero District 99, a portion of which he also represents, when news broke during the summer that the same teacher had been working there for more than six months before being placed on paid leave until his contract terminated in June 2018.
Probably just an oversight. That said, we agree with Sandoval that the vetting process for teachers needs to be tightened up in Illinois and the Illinois State Board of Education might be the body to assist districts by flagging people who have been charged with serious crimes.
As for this particular teacher, it appears he omitted the Cicero potion from his application and may have used a different first name, one that might not immediately turn up his involvement in a criminal case. For those actions alone, we believe the district should seek to terminate him.