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Despite public protests, Dist. 54 board dismisses teacher

Published: Monday, March 17, 2014 9:42 p.m. CDT
Caption
Former students of Shabbona science teacher Chris Bachmann attended Monday's school board meeting to protest his dismissal.

MORRIS -- About 30 residents came out to support eighth grade Shabbona Middle School science teacher Chris Bachmann and to protest his dismissal at the school board meeting Monday, about 21 of them former students.

"It's a huge mistake," parent Laurie Wantland said during public comment before the board went into closed session to discuss the dismissal. "He has respect for students and students respect him."

"Think about what a good teacher you are letting go," she continued.

Wantland said that Bachmann is a good male role model to the students and one who goes above and beyond for the students, including offering them tutoring.

In addition to this parent, numerous people, many former students of Bachmann, spoke in the teacher's defense.  

Despite the pleas from the former students, many wearing shirts supporting the teacher, the board voted 5 to 2 to dismiss Bachmann. Board members Jerald White and Bonnie Cap voted against his dismissal. 

Bachmann was not present at the board meeting. He will finish out the rest of the school year, but will not be able to return to Shabbona next year.

Superintendent Teri Shaw said the district can not comment on personnel issues and therefore would not comment on why the teacher was being dismissed.

Morris Community High School junior Tristan DeGrush told the board prior to the vote that he was in Bachmann's class during Bachmann's first year of teaching at Shabbona.

"Of all my teachers I've had throughout the years, he inspired me to look at a career in chemistry," DeGrush said.

Another student questioned how Bachmann was evaluated.

"I understand the way you evaluate teachers you sit in the class for one period," Maria Blanco, freshman at MCHS, said.

She said students who sat through all of his classes know he is a good teacher, and not just from a small glimpse of his teaching.

Katlin Cap, a freshman at MCHS told the board how Bachmann affected her as a coach in soccer.

"He took time out of his schedule to coach us, he took time away from his wife and two kids," she said. "I think it would be ridiculous to let him go."

This is the second time since 2008 that the district has let a teacher go in their fourth year, just prior to tenure, Shaw said.

"Typically they are a non-renewal in their first couple of years if they are going to be let go," Shaw said. "But we dismissed someone else in their fourth year, two years ago."

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