IEA Files Lawsuit Against New Berlin School District on Behalf of NBEA & Kindred

By Benjamin Cox on July 24, 2020 at 9:14am

The Illinois Education is adding another lawsuit to the New Berlin School District. In a press release and press conference from IEA on Wednesday, the state teacher’s union announced that it will be filing an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board against the district in the case of Joe Kindred being dismissed. Kindred has been a teacher and baseball coach in the district for the past 15 years. Kindred is also the former president of the local New Berlin Education Association union.

The IEA also is challenging the disciplinary action taken against the current NBEA President Tonya Delaney at the New Berlin School District Board of Education meeting on June 25th.

The school board’s move to dismiss Kindred and discipline Delaney comes after the union took a vote of no confidence against former Superintendent Adam Ehrman in October. Shortly after the union vote, the administration began investigations into NBEA leaders, including Kindred and Delaney. Board meeting minutes from December only state that the investigation pertained to “matters including but not limited to student record violations.” Others have claimed that a school board member’s social media account was improperly hacked. The NBEA serves 60 teachers in the district.

IEA President Kathi Griffin said that the state union believes the termination was unlawful and was an attack on teacher’s unions around the state: “Our 135,000 members from across the state stand with Joe and NBEA. We recognize that an injury to one is an injury to all. We are pursuing legal action to make sure the actions of the New Berlin School District do not go unchecked. We believe that Joe’s termination was unlawful. At the IEA, we understand that we are stronger when we are united. We support our members; we support Joe, and we support the NBEA.”

NBEA spokesperson Jennifer Tom says that Kindred’s absence will cause irreparable harm: “In my eight years with New Berlin, there has never been a back to school where Mr. Kindred wasn’t there to welcome back his students, ball players and fellow teachers. His absence leaves an irreparable hole in our staff. The students of New Berlin need their teacher in the classroom where he belongs. While the IEA is pursuing legal action on Joe’s behalf, the New Berlin Board of Education can remedy this upheaval by voting in the August 13th board meeting to reinstate Joe to his teaching position. The teachers, students, and community of New Berlin want Joe Kindred when those doors open this Fall.”

Holly Kotner and her daughter were one of several parents in the district who rallied for Joe Kindred and the NBEA on Wednesday night. Kotner also spoke during the IEA press conference about the upheaval in the New Berlin community surrounding Kindred’s dismissal and Tonya Delaney’s discipline.

The New Berlin School Board held a special session Wednesday night where the district it’s return to in-person learning. They also announced that Bo Gum would be replacing Kindred as the Head Jr. High and High School Baseball Coach.

The community held its second rally in support of Joe Kindred under the water tower Wednesday night during the board meeting. Many residents also spoke during public comment during the board meeting asking for Kindred’s reinstatement. A video of several teachers and members of the community was released on Facebook Wednesday night showing support of Kindred and the NBEA.

Members of the New Berlin Board of Education have not made any comments about the investigation nor have documents been released about Kindred’s dismissal.