Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Third Division
M.F. BOOKER, Petitioner-Appellant,
THE BOARD OF EDUCATION OF THE CITY OF CHICAGO; BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT, Chief Executive Officer; ANNE WEILAND, Hearing Officer; and THE ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, Respondents-Appellees.
from the Board of Education of the City of Chicago. No. 15
0325 RS3 Final Administrative Decision
JUSTICE PUCINSKI delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Fitzgerald Smith concurred in the judgment
and opinion. Presiding Justice Mason specially concurred,
1 Petitioner M.F. Booker appeals from a final administrative
decision of the Chicago Board of Education (the Board), which
resulted in the termination of his employment as a tenured
teacher at Carnegie Elementary School (Carnegie). For the
reasons that follow we confirm the Board's decision.
3 I. Dismissal Charges
4 On December 27, 2013, the Board approved five dismissal
charges against petitioner. Petitioner was charged with: (1)
failure to perform duties; (2) failure to act in the manner
of a reasonably prudent educator in the supervision of
students; (3) violation of physical integrity, which
prohibits physical punishment of students; (4) violation of
board resolution No. 04-0728-RS2, which prohibits corporal
punishment that results in the deliberate use of physical
force with a student; and (5) conduct unbecoming a Chicago
public schools (CPS) employee.
5 The dismissal charges were supported by the following eight
"1. For all relevant time periods of these charges you
were a teacher at Andrew Carnegie Elementary School.
2.On or about February 8, 2013, you slapped student, [J.R.],
an 11 year old boy, on the back of his head causing redness
and the skin to break.
3.On or about February 8, 2013, you slapped student, [C.S.],
an 11 year old boy, on the back of his head.
4.On or about September 9, 2013, you grabbed student [F.W.],
a 12 year old boy, by his neck, slammed his head against the
chalkboard and escorted him by the neck into the bathroom to
talk to him.
5. On or about September 18, 2013, you grabbed student
[F.W.], around his neck, slammed him against a locker and
then walked away.
6.On or about October 29, 2013, you grabbed student [M.F.], a
13 year old boy, by the front of his shirt, pulled him out of
his seat and into the hallway, in response to him not having
his homework for class.
7. On or about October 29, 2013, you stated to student [M.F.]
and/or to the entire class '[d]on't ever tell anybody
that you're scared of me or it's going to be ugly.
I'm not trying to make you all scared of me. I'm
trying to make you respect me, ' or words to that effect.
8.Your misconduct has placed CPS, Carnegie, and
Carnegie's staff and students in a bad light."
notice of the charges and specifications further concluded:
"Based on the above specifications, dismissal is
warranted based upon your irremediable conduct."
6 II. Dismissal Hearings
7 Petitioner's dismissal hearing occurred on June 18,
2014, and September 24, 2014. The Board's chief executive
officer presented the following as witnesses: J.R., an
11-year-old student; L.C., the father of J.R.; F.W., a 12
year-old student; J.W., the mother of F.W.; M.F., a 13
year-old student; C.W., the mother of M.F.; Docilla Pollard,
the principal at Carnegie; and Jennifer Detwyler, an
investigator for the Board's law office. Petitioner
presented Kelly Shepard, a teacher at Carnegie, and testified
on his own behalf.
8 A. J.R.
9 J.R., a student in petitioner's classroom, testified
that on February 8, 2013, he and another student were playing
in the hallway and one of them stepped on a milk carton
causing it to burst. J.R. testified that when petitioner
arrived, petitioner hit both him and the other student on the
back of the head. J.R. testified that he told petitioner not
to touch him and then petitioner grabbed him by the neck and
took him to the bathroom to talk. J.R. waited two days before
he told his father about the incident.
10 B. L.C.
11 L.C. testified that he is J.R.'s father. L.C.
testified that on or around February 8, 2013, he noticed a
scratch on J.R.'s neck and inquired as to how it
happened. J.R. told him he was playing in the hall and
petitioner "smacked him upside his head" and told
J.R. to come into the classroom. L.C. took a photo of the
scratch and testified that it looked worse in person. J.R.
told L.C. that he told petitioner not to touch him and then
petitioner grabbed J.R. by the neck and walked him to the
boys' bathroom. L.C. called the police and there was a
meeting with the principal, the police officer, J.R., and
L.C. L.C. filed a police report but did not file a criminal
complaint. L.C. further testified that petitioner called him
and told him that petitioner would never put his hands on any
student in the future.
12 C. F.W.
13 F.W., another student in petitioner's classroom,
testified that on September 9, 2013, he and a classmate,
M.F., were throwing things in the classroom and when
petitioner returned to the classroom from the hallway,
petitioner was informed of the incident and grabbed M.F. by
his hair and neck and threw him out of the classroom. F.W.
testified that petitioner grabbed him by the neck and slammed
his head against the bulletin board, and then threw him out
of the classroom. F.W. further testified that he became angry
and started crying and petitioner took him to the bathroom
14 F.W. further testified that several days after the first
incident, the students were lining up to go to lunch and
recess and F.W. ended up in the girls' line without being
aware of it. Petitioner told F.W. to go into the boys'
line and as F.W. was walking slowly to his place in line
petitioner grabbed him by the neck and slammed his head into
the lockers. F.W. then went to the office and called his
mother and was sad, embarrassed and crying.
15 D. J.W.
16 J.W., F.W.'s mother, testified that F.W. came home
from school very upset and embarrassed on or around September
9, 2013, and told her he was throwing things in the
classroom, and in response, petitioner grabbed him by his
neck and slammed him into a bulletin board. J.W. told F.W. to
stop misbehaving, but that he was to tell her if petitioner
ever put his hands on him again. About 10 days later, F.W.
called from school, and reported that petitioner had put his
hands on him when he mistakenly was in the girls' line
for recess. F.W. told her that petitioner grabbed him around
the throat and slammed him into a locker causing bruises.
J.W. observed the bruises on F.W. and took two photos of him
that same evening. The photos were admitted into evidence.
The photos showed bruising of her son's upper shoulder
and chest. J.W. spoke with petitioner and the assistant
principal a few days after this incident. Petitioner told her
that his actions were his policy with behavior problems by
students. F.W. was removed from petitioner's classroom;
however, the only option that J.W. had was to enroll F.W. in
a gifted program, which F.W. had trouble with and eventually,
F.W. was returned to petitioner's classroom per
17 E. M.F.
18 M.F. testified that on September 9, 2013, he and F.W. were
throwing things in the classroom while petitioner was in the
hall. When petitioner returned, a fellow classmate told
petitioner about the incident. Petitioner became angry and
grabbed both boys by their necks and pushed them up to the
front board. M.F. testified that petitioner punched F.W. in
the chest and then took him to the bathroom. When F.W.
returned, it appeared that he had been crying.
19 M.F. testified that on October 29, 2013, it was
petitioner's policy that if you do not have your homework
you need a note from a parent and he did not have one. He
denied the claim that he told petitioner that another student
had stolen his homework. M.F. testified that when he did not
have his homework, petitioner hit him in the back, picked him
up by his neck and hair, and took him into the hallway and
petitioner physically put him back into the classroom. When
M.F. went home that day, he told his mother what had
20 F. C.W.
21 C.W., M.F.'s mother, testified that M.F. told her
about the incident over homework, and that petitioner had
grabbed M.F. by his shirt. She testified that M.F. was upset
and scared. On October 30, 2013, M.F., C.W., Docilla Pollard,
the principal, and petitioner met to discuss what had
happened. C.W. testified that she secretly tape-recorded this
meeting and that tape was admitted into evidence. C.W.
testified that petitioner admitted grabbing M.F. by the shirt
and removing him from the classroom. She further testified
that she requested that petitioner stop touching M.F., and
petitioner replied that this was the way he maintained
discipline and he was not going to change. C.W. made the
request several more times and eventually petitioner said
okay. M.F. was ultimately removed from petitioner's
classroom and transferred to another classroom.
22 G. Docilla Pollard
23 Docilla Pollard (Pollard) testified that she has been the
principal at Carnegie since 2012. She testified that she had
implemented the CHAMPS program when she began as
Carnegie's principal after speaking with the teachers and
learning that student discipline was one of the teachers'
biggest concerns. CHAMPS is a behavior program that helps
teachers manage classroom behavior and places procedures in
place to ensure the safety of the children and staff. CHAMPS
was included in the Carnegie staff handbook, which stated
CHAMPS behavior program protocols are implemented school-wide
and must be evident in each classroom. She testified that she
also included a provision in the staff handbook, reminding
teachers that corporal punishment is not tolerated. It stated
in full, "[r]emember the Board of Education of the City
of Chicago Rule section 6-21 states, '[n]o employee of
the Board of Education may inflict corporal punishment of any
kind upon persons attending the public school of the City of
Chicago.' No corporal punishment." She also
testified that every teacher is given a handbook upon
employment at Carnegie.
24 Pollard testified that after she joined Carnegie, she
began receiving complaints that petitioner was physical with
the children. In each instance, Pollard was approached by a
parent. Petitioner did not initiate contact with Pollard
regarding any of the incidents at issue. Pollard discussed
the complaints with petitioner and reported the incidents to
the Department of Children and Family Services and in the