Fired East teacher files to be reinstated
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org March 26, 2013 3:16PM
Updated: April 28, 2013 6:22AM
AURORA — East Aurora has fired Bob Green — again.
The longtime Cowherd Middle School P.E. teacher said this week that he will again fight to be reinstated after the East Aurora school board voted to terminate him earlier this month. This is the second time Green has been fired by the district in the last three years.
Green, 58, has taught for the district for 34 years. He is about a year away from being eligible for early retirement, he said.
“I will try to be reinstated. I’m not going to lose my retirement,” Green said.
On March 4, the East Aurora School Board voted 5-0 to approve the administration’s decision to fire Green. Board members Ray Hull and Ignacio Cervantes abstained from voting on the personnel issue.
According to district documents, Green was fired because he used excessive force in disciplining a student.
In a letter to Green from the board and signed by Board President Annette Johnson, Green’s dismissal “is in the best interests of the District because [he] continued to engaged in inappropriate physical contact with students despite receiving reasonable written warning from the board [previously].”
School District spokesman Adam Harding said that as with all personnel cases, the district declines comment.
“With this being a personnel matter, I am not at liberty to comment,” Harding said.
Green has requested an Illinois State Board of Education hearing on his termination. He is not being represented by teacher’s union lawyers, he said.
According to Aurora Police documents, at 10:20 a.m. Jan. 31, a school resource officer was approached by Bob Green, who had just had an altercation with a student.
On that day, about seven or eight kids were goofing off, going outside the building where it was raining and then re-entering the building several times. Green asked the students to stop leaving the building, and one student refused to comply.
“I told him to knock it off — he was bringing water on the gym floor. I was saying, ‘get away from the door,’” Green said.
According to Green, the student pushed Green twice and Green grabbed the student by the shoulders.
“He pushes me again, and that was the nature of the contact,” Green said.
According to the APD report, at that time, Green “took [the student] down” in response to being pushed.
According to the student’s statement, Green eventually grabbed the student around the upper shoulders/neck and pulled him forward to the ground, which he described as a “football tackle.”
The student stood up and walked away, but when questioned by building Principal Crystal England, said his neck was “a little hurt” and went to the school nurse and applied an ice pack.
Soon after the incident, Green was called to England’s office and placed on administrative leave. He was later fired.
The Cowherd student is a ward of the state, according to Aurora Police Department documents.
Per DCFS instructions, the student was taken to the emergency room, according to the APD report. The student’s caregiver said the student was examined and found not to have sustained any injury, the report said.
According to the police report, England contacted DCFS, who is investigating the incident. Green said that he is confident DCFS will not substantiate any abuse claim that may have been made against him.
DCFS officials declined to comment.
The student was not charged in the incident but was being sent to an alternative school based on the circumstances, according to the police report.
Green was not arrested or charged with a crime, according to APD documents.
“Green did not violate the law and acted within reason,” the report read.
According to the Illinois School Code Section 24, teachers may use reasonable force as needed to maintain safety of other students, staff or to defend school property. The policy states that reasonable force does not include slapping, paddling or keeping students in painful positions for a long amount of time. Teachers may also not intentionally inflict bodily harm on a student, the policy reads.
Green said that the term “appropriate contact” is not well defined in school board policies.
“‘Appropriate and necessary,’ what does that mean? If you’re telling me not to touch kids then you need to put that in writing,” Green said.
Green was also fired by the district in April 2010, but after fighting the termination, was reinstated to the position in October 2011. East did not appeal that decision. That termination came after a March 3, 2010 incident in which the district argued Green yelled at and pushed students in an aggressive manner.
In that case, Illinois State Board of Education hearing officer Michael Gerstein found that the district did not meet the burden of proof; the district previously argued that Green had violated a 2000 and 2006 disciplinary remedies.
Gerstein’s determination stated that Green’s contact with the student in the 2010 case was necessary, appropriate and non-aggressive.
In both terminations, Green said he feels that the district is retaliating against him because he has consistanly questioned district’s process of hiring coaches and has taken the district to court on the issue. Green filed charges of discrimination, unfair labor practices and other complaints against the district in 1996, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2010, according to state board documents.
Green settled a Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discrimination complaint in 2010 with the district.