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Mccutcheon v. Bd. of Education

OPINION FILED MARCH 26, 1981.

ANABEL J. MCCUTCHEON, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,

v.

THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD L. CURRY, the Hon. JAMES C. MURRAY, the Hon. WARREN WOLFSON, the Hon. GEORGE A. HIGGINS, and the Hon. JOHN NORDBERG, Judges, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE ROMITI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal is brought from a judgment of the circuit court of Cook County affirming the administrative decision of the defendant Board of Education of the city of Chicago (the Board) dismissing plaintiff Anabel J. McCutcheon as a tenured principal. Plaintiff raises the following contentions in this court: (1) the Board improperly failed to appoint an independent hearing officer and also failed to properly notify plaintiff of the charges against her; (2) plaintiff was only tried and charged for conduct unbecoming a principal and therefore should have been retained as a teacher; (3) the circuit court erred in denying plaintiff's motion for restoration or just compensation for property allegedly confiscated by defendants; (4) plaintiff was denied her first amendment right to criticize the Board.

We affirm.

On September 7, 1976, the plaintiff, who was employed by the Board as a principal at the Audubon School in Chicago, was notified that she was suspended pending a hearing on charges that she engaged in conduct unbecoming a principal and failed to discharge her duties and responsibilities as principal at the Audubon School. On September 16 plaintiff received a certified letter from the Board notifying her that the charges had been filed against her with the Board by defendant Joseph P. Hannon, who was then the general superintendent of the schools. Included with the letter was a 10-point specification of charges, stating:

1. On September 12, 1975, Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon threatened to cause bodily harm with a baseball bat to Mario Garofalo, engineer-custodian, of the Audubon School.

2. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon failed to present acceptable performance appraisal objectives for the 1975-76 school year despite suggestions, conferences, recommendations, and directives of her superiors to do so.

3. In the spring of 1975 and on June 19, 1975, Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon was observed by employees of the board of education scantily and indecently attired in the Audubon Elementary School.

4. On November 10, 1975, Anabel J. McCutcheon failed to follow payroll procedures in that she claimed a day of illness leave (A) when in the afternoon she attended and spoke at the public portion of a meeting of the board of education.

5. On January 9, 1976, Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon kicked Tom Moran, Jr., the school janitor, in the buttocks.

6. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon failed to follow a directive from the district superintendent issued on February 2, 1976, ordering her to stop making recommendations on suspension forms of steps to be taken by parents such as spanking. She indicated such insubordination in a letter to Dr. Heing, district superintendent, on February 4, 1976, and on February 11, 1976, she continued in her defiant and insubordinate manner.

7. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon suspended two pupils for 19 days on February 11, 1976. The district superintendent shortened the suspension to nine days in a letter to parents and principal dated February 18, 1976. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon disregarded the direct order of her superior and ordered that the suspension for 19 days stand thereby being insubordinate and violating Board Rule 6-9 (Rev. 5/28/75).

8. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon refused to send necessary personnel identification data to the office of District 3 and the department of teacher personnel despite letters requesting the information from two district superintendents and the assistant superintendent in charge of personnel.

9. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon refused to meet or cooperate with the department of field auditors for the purpose of reviewing the audit report and recommendations of the auditor completed on May 17 and 18, 1976, regarding improper bookkeeping procedures at Audubon Elementary School.

10. Miss Anabel J. McCutcheon has repeatedly failed to follow the recommendations, suggestions, and directives of her superiors for the improvement of her performance as a principal, has continued to be insubordinate, and has otherwise failed to correct her deficiencies and has exhibited such deleterious conduct towards personnel of the ...


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