Fenwick High School announced this morning its decision to not renew the contract of longtime teacher John Quinn. Quinn, a veteran educator and decorated basketball coach, was placed on paid administrative leave late March following the allegations of sexual harassment from at least two former students.
School officials sought legal counsel who oversaw a “third-party” investigation against Quinn, which has now concluded, wrote John Barron, chairman of the high school’s board of directors, in an email July 6 to staff and families. The investigation was led by Lisa R. Callaway, a partner of the Oakbrook-based law firm Engler Callaway Baasten & Sraga, a spokesperson for Fenwick said.
“We are writing to notify you that Fenwick will not be renewing Mr. Quinn’s contract for future school years,” Barron wrote. “Our investigation uncovered clear and unequivocal violations that warrant Mr. Quinn’s immediate departure. This decision was made based on a comprehensive review of the findings of the independent investigation.”
In a separate email to Wednesday Journal, a Fenwick spokesman reiterated Barron’s statement, adding, “We are confident that this decision was made based on a full account of the findings and the facts.”
Barron said school officials are planning to make major changes in its policies, including “implementing an ongoing, comprehensive review of our confidential reporting systems, strong governance and oversight procedures and a renewed training program for faculty and staff.”
“Fenwick High School is steadfast in our commitment to providing students with a safe and inclusive environment to learn and grow,” Barron said in the email. “We promise you that we will always act transparently in our efforts to ensure our students feel safe and supported.”
John Quinn released a statement through his attorney, his brother Thomas Quinn, denying the allegations against him.
“John is deeply disappointed that he will not be able to continue his teaching career at Fenwick, but he will always treasure the joys of teaching or coaching thousands of Fenwick students,” the statement read.
In the past two weeks, Fenwick officials announced staffing changes that have included Peter Groom, who has served as Fenwick’s principal for nearly a decade, stepping down from that position and returning to the classroom next fall as a Spanish and history teacher.
School officials have confirmed that the staffing changes are unrelated to the Quinn investigation.
A search for a new principal is underway. Terrence O’Rourke, director of student services, will become the interim principal, and Charly Ieremia, who serves as the dean of students, will replace O’Rourke in the student services role.