Lyons, IL – Parents are in an uproar after it was discovered that a new 6th grade English teacher was hired after being charged with attempted murder.
Andres Rodriguez, 39, had been teaching in Lyons School District 103 since August, when school officials learned he had been charged with attempted murder last year, WGN reported.
That incident occurred in July of 2017, when Rodriguez got into an altercation with a motorist while walking through Tinley Park.
Prosecutors said that Rodriguez pulled out a gun and shot the person seven times, WGN reported.
The prosecution alleged that Rodriguez fired several of those shots after the motorist was down and lying in the street.
WGN reported that the motorist was also armed, but had not fired his weapon during the altercation.
Both Rodriguez and the motorist had concealed carry permits, WGN reported.
Rodriguez’s attorney argued that his client’s actions were self-defense, and the teacher was released from jail on a $500,000 bond the day after his arrest, the Chicago Tribune reported.
At the time of the shooting, Rodriguez was placed on paid administrative leave by the Joliet School District, pending the outcome of the charges.
In August of 2017, a month after he was charged, Rodriguez was hired as a substitute teacher and after school detention monitor in Cicero at Unity Junior High and promised a full-time job in the fall.
School officials terminated Rodriguez six months later when they learned he was charged with attempted murder, WGN reported.
But then the Lyons School District 103 hired Rodriguez in August as a sixth-grade English teacher. He was teaching in the classroom until his charges were discovered and he was, yet again, placed on paid administrative leave.
WGN reported that the Lyons School District officials claimed they had just learned about the charges against Rodriguez last week.
However, numerous news outlets reported in May that Rodriguez had been fired by Cicero, and covered the fact he’d been hired a month after charges were filed against him.
Illinois State Senator Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) met with local leaders on Monday and asked for an investigation into how Rodriguez was repeatedly hired to teach children while facing felony charges.
“If they were your children, what would you demand of the school officials at your local school?” Sandoval said, according to WGN.
Other state and local leaders called for the resignations of the school district’s two superintendents, Patrick Patt and Robert Madonia.
Patt told the Chicago Tribune that Rodriguez was subjected to a background check before he was offered the position at the school.
“All I can really tell you is that we do background checks on all new employees, and when nothing shows up we presume everything is clear,” he said.
Patt said he thought the district might be able to improve its vetting processes, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Some lawmakers proposed legislation that would require school employees to disclose not only convictions but also pending charges, WGN reported.
Lyons Mayor Chris Getty told WGN that the school board and superintendents failed both the children and the community.
Cook County Commissioner Jeff Tobolski categorized it as a failure as well.
“My question is, is that the type of individual we want in our classrooms with our students, those types of morals those types of values?” Tobolski asked.
He said he agreed with the mayor’s assessment of the situation.
“I just think that this is as the mayor said, an example of the system breaking down, and so what I want to do is make sure we do a very thorough investigation at this point,” Tobolski opined to WGN.
In an interesting twist, the Joliet School District told WGN in May that they didn’t know that Rodriguez was teaching again until he was fired by the Cicero schools.
He had been collecting paychecks from both districts the entire time he was facing charges, to the tune of $90,000 when his fraud was discovered, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Now he is on paid administrative leave with the Lyons School District.
Rodriguez is due back in court Nov. 28, but in the meantime, his teaching license remains in good standing and he is legally permitted to continue teaching, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Illinois State Board of Education Spokeswoman Jaclyn Matthews said the board cannot act against an educator until after they have been convicted of a crime.