By Bob Skolnik
The Lyons School District 103 Board of Education on Dec. 17 fired a George Washington Middle School teacher who was hired last summer while he was facing charges of attempted murder, stemming from a shooting on a street in Tinley Park in July 2017.
Without any discussion in open session, the school board members voted 6-0 to fire Andres Rodriguez, who was hired in August as a sixth-grade language arts teacher. Board member Sharon Anderson was absent from the meeting and did not cast a vote.
Rodriguez had been on paid administrative leave since Oct. 19, one day after District 103 officials learned that he was facing attempted murder charges.
Co-Interim Superintendent Patrick Patt said after the school board meeting that Rodriguez was fired because he did not answer a question on his job application truthfully. Patt said that Rodriguez did not check the box asking if he had ever been fired or asked to resign from a job.
On his job application for Lyons District 103 Rodriguez made no mention of working for Cicero District 99 during the 2017-18 school year. District 99 placed Rodriguez on paid administrative leave in February after learning that he had been charged with attempted murder the previous summer. In April, the District 99 school board voted to terminate him at the end of the school year.
"He misrepresented himself in his application," Patt said.
Rodriguez has pleaded not guilty in his criminal case and has a court date in January.
District 103 school board President Marge Hubacek also said that not disclosing his termination from District 99 was the reason for firing Rodriguez, not the pending court case.
"He's not been convicted of anything," Hubacek said. "It has nothing to do with the incident, because that's in court."
Rodriguez and his lawyer, Eugene Keefe, met with the school board, Patt and the school district's attorney, Phil Gerner, in closed session for about 30 minutes on Dec. 17. Rodriguez had the right to a termination hearing before being fired. He and his lawyer had also met previously with District 103 administrators.
Patt declined to go into specifics about case Rodriguez and his lawyer made to the board, but he noted that Keefe did most of the talking.
"They said what they wanted to say, and that was fine," Patt said.
District 103 officials say that when they ran the standard background check on Rodriguez this summer prior to hiring him, everything came back clear because he has not been convicted of a crime.
"Everything came back the way it should have," Hubacek said.
Rodriguez was employed as a teacher in Joliet District 86 at the time he was charged with attempted murder in 2017. According to a story in the Daily Southtown, George Washington Middle School Principal Don Jones checked Rodriguez's references by calling the people Rodriguez listed on his job application. Those references reportedly included some former colleagues in the Joliet district.
Rodriguez had been placed on paid administrative leave in Joliet District 86 about a month after his arrest. For much of the 2017-18 school year, Rodriguez apparently was being paid by both District 86 and District 99.
A spokeswoman for District 86 told the Landmark that no one from District 103 called the school district's central office to inquire about Rodriguez.
District 103 board member Shannon Johnson, herself a teacher, said that once a teacher passes an initial background check, arrests are not flagged on a teacher's license or record, a process she said needs to be changed.