Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
JOSEPH E. FLEMING, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
HOFFMAN, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
This appeal involves the judicial review of a decision of the School Board of East St. Louis District 189, St. Clair County, Illinois. The Board dismissed plaintiff as a teacher for certain alleged acts of unprofessional conduct as a teacher. The Circuit Court, on review, reversed the decision of the Board on the grounds that it was against the manifest weight of the evidence. It is from the order of the Circuit Court reinstating the plaintiff as a teacher, that the School Board appeals.
The issue on appeal requires our careful consideration of the evidence.
The charges against plaintiff as a teacher were that he had a system of grading students which was directly related to the amount of ticket money turned in by them for various social functions; that he used lewd language in the classroom; and, that on one occasion in November of 1956 he attempted to seduce one of his girl students. One other charge was made, but it was dismissed by the Board.
A public hearing was held by the Board of Education commencing on November 18, 1959, and at its conclusion the plaintiff was dismissed.
To prove the charges against plaintiff, 3 witnesses were called. First was a 17 year old girl, Norma Brooks. She had been in Mr. Chandler's class in the previous spring term of school. She testified that plaintiff had stated that if they sold tickets they would pass the course even if they failed on their tests. This witness, though she didn't know if she passed or not, was taking the course over. She had absented herself during the occasions of several tests and thus was graded zero. All told, she was absent from class on 23 different times during the Spring term. She had sold tickets for social functions though she said she was never ordered by Mr. Chandler to sell them.
The second witness called to prove the charges was Diane Thomas. She was graduated the June prior to the hearing and had likewise been a student in Mr. Chandler's class. She said that students who didn't attend the social functions would have to take tests the following day but that those who went to the dances didn't have to take the tests. She further testified that Mr. Chandler told "nasty jokes" in the classroom, that the jokes involved sex and that he did this nearly every day. She said she felt she passed the course (though with an inferior grade) because she had sold tickets.
The third witness was Rosella Thomas, a graduate of January, 1957, over two and a half years prior to the hearing. She likewise said that those attending the dances didn't have to take tests the next day; that they had to pay the admission charge of the dances even if they didn't go; that Mr. Chandler told "off-color jokes" involving sex, and if the class didn't understand, he would explain the jokes.
The witness further testified that in the fall of 1956, around Thanksgiving, she belonged to a club which met on one occasion at Mr. Chandler's house and that after the meeting he drove all the girls home. She was the last one in the car. She claimed plaintiff drove to a dark street, parked and tried to kiss her; that plaintiff asked her for sexual intercourse; that she agreed to later on because she was scared at the time. She further stated that next day in class he said he "was out with a broad" and that he "couldn't get her to go all the way."
At the time of the hearing, this witness was married but separated from her husband. She further admitted that she was pregnant in October of 1956 and had a child the following July. She never complained to the principal of the school about the alleged action of plaintiff the night he was supposed to have taken her home from his own house. She, too, claimed that a student had to sell tickets to social functions in order to get a good grade in his class and that he told jokes to the class during the "whole time." She admitted she was absent 17 times from the course.
Plaintiff took the stand in his own behalf and testified that he had been teaching 11 years in the East St. Louis system; that he taught the Drivers Education course at Lincoln High School ever since 1950; that the text he used was written under the direction of the American Automobile Association and that he used objective tests; that he kept a grade book for each group of students in which he also recorded attendance. After a test, he handed papers back to the class and went over the questions and collected them again for keeping to prove the grades.
He denied that he told his class they had to sell tickets to social or athletic events to get a grade. He claimed that there was no favoritism shown to students who sold more tickets than the other students. He said students did not have to pay for tickets they didn't sell. He liked athletics, having voluntarily assisted at coaching track. He had acted as assistant coach in football and baseball. Because of his love for sports, he sponsored social events to raise money for equipment. He instituted an after-prom dinner dance and an annual picnic. The social affairs had the approval of the school board. He likewise denied telling lewd stories.
He denied that the day after a dance some of his class took a test and others didn't. He denied, too, any attempt to seduce Rosella Thomas.
On behalf of the plaintiff, a number of witnesses appeared. One, Eunistine James, who was a student of Mr. Chandler in the fall of 1956, said she never heard him tell any lewd stories, never heard him refer to girls as "broads" and never heard him indicate that ...