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BLOOMINGTON - Central Illinois area school administrators agree dismissing tenured teachers is no simple matter, but they say results of a newspaper study are a bit misleading.

"The statistics may be true, but they don't tell the whole story," said Don Hahn, Olympia School District superintendent.

Firings of tenured Illinois public school teachers may have averaged fewer than 10 a year, but the figure doesn't consider resignations, he said.

"In a year, there could have been hundreds of tenured teachers who resigned," he said.

Such negotiated departures save districts a lot of time and money that could have been tied up in courts, he said.

Hahn compared the practice to that of private businesses, where long-time employees often negotiate severance packages and then tender a resignation.

Another reason for the low number of tenured dismissals is the state's required probationary period, said Barry Reilly, assistant superintendent for Bloomington's District 87.

"It's imperative we do a good job with the screening process," said Reilly. Districts must employ teachers four years before they award tenure, he said.

Hahn and Unit 5 Superintendent Alan Chapman agree the early years are key to weeding out those who might prove risky.

"We put a high degree of focus on that probationary period," said Chapman.

For the few cases that slip through, the state has clear steps for districts to help teachers improve instructional techniques or classroom management, said Reilly.

When those options fail - which he said rarely happens - a district works with union officials, who may counsel a teacher to seek another career, he said.


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