I write to implore the District 97 school board to reject the administration’s recommendation to terminate the employment of Beye School fifth-grade teacher Patrick McAndrew at its March 9 meeting. The recommendation to terminate is on the basis of “fraudulent use of sick days” related to an emergency visit to his child in Nepal.

Termination is the district’s ultimate remedy and it is only warranted in the most egregious of circumstances. This standard is especially the case when the employee has a 35-year track record as an outstanding teacher and has been recognized as a Golden Apple Finalist and a Damen Award winner during his 23-year tenure at Beye School.

Mr. McAndrew had a tremendously positive impact on my children’s educational and personal development. He is one of those few teachers that both students and parents remember years later because his passion for teaching was infectious and fostered a love of learning. His commitment ranged beyond the classroom with his outstanding work leading theater at the school, inspiring large numbers of students to join CAST in middle school. When my son was asked in eighth grade by his school to identify the teacher who had the most impact upon his education he said, without hesitation, “Mr. McAndrew.”

I had the opportunity to serve on the D97 board from 2003-2007. I understand that, as a general matter, the board should grant a level of deference to the administration’s personnel recommendations. However, when the facts and circumstances warrant, it is a board member’s obligation to represent the values of the community by rejecting an ill-conceived recommendation.

The board plays this check-and-balance role to assure that the administration’s actions are well-grounded and will not damage the fabric of our educational community. Patrick McAndrew has served this community with distinction for over 23 years. He has much more to give our children.

He should not be denied that opportunity.

Dan Burke, Oak Park

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