There’s a lot we don’t know about the case of Patrick McAndrew, a longtime teacher at Beye School in Oak Park. We do know the currently disassembling District 97 administration of the district recommended his termination over the winter. With a lot of pushing, we found out it had to do with allegations McAndrew had manipulated sick days so he could make a trip to see his family in Nepal. True or not, the matter seemed shockingly trivial.
Beye’s principal, Jennifer Schemidt, took her case to Madison headquarters and the district administration took the case to the school board, which wisely and under pressure from the Beye community chose not to fire McAndrew, but to issue an unpaid suspension. We’re not clear why his job again seems to be on the line pending a grievance process, but that seems to be the case.
Here’s our take as that grievance will shortly be heard by one or both of the incoming interim superintendents of the district.
The initial case was brought by a Beye principal who arrived a year ago and will be gone as the school year ends. Schemidt came to Beye from a job in Naperville and will now return there. The District 97 human resources chief is Gina Herrmann. After serving two years at D97, Herrmann is also departing, having just been hired at a school district serving Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills. And, of course, Supt. Carol Kelley is also about to leave D97 for a lead post in Princeton, New Jersey.
McAndrew has been a standout teacher at Beye through the long and successful tenures of two previous beloved principals — Susan Gibson and Jonathan Ellwanger. Beye parents held multiple protests as word spread quietly of his suspension back in February. He is a recipient of the prized Golden Apple Award.
Our advice to Patricia Wernet and Griff Powell, the interim superintendents, is to skip this fight, to make it possible for the next Beye principal, whether interim or permanent, to focus on healing this school, to send a message district-wide that the extraordinary teachers are valued even if, perhaps, they have made an error.