A Bartlett High School teacher who was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an investigation Monday says he was told he can go back to school and teach on Tuesday.
English teacher Gary Lorber said he was taken by surprise Monday morning when an administrator told him he was being put on leave and then was asked to leave the school.
Lorber said Monday afternoon he didn't know on what grounds he was being put on leave but thought it may have something to do with an article published in a local newspaper last week in which he spoke out against the new Bartlett High School grading scale.
On Monday evening, Lorber said he confirmed the leave was because of his "stance on the grading scale." However, Elgin Area School District U-46 spokesman Patrick Mogge said Monday evening that the investigation has nothing to do with "the teacher's public comments regarding secondary grading practices." Mogge would not name Lorber as the teacher in question, but Lorber confirmed it.
Bartlett High School implemented a new grading scale in the 2013-14 school year that has stirred controversy. On Monday, Lorber would not comment further about the grading scale or the article but the story, published last week in the Hanover Park Examiner, stated Lorber sent parents a letter asking them to email Superintendent Josť M. Torres and other administrators if they disagreed with the new grading scale.
Lorber was vocal in the article about his dislike for the new grading scale -- which uses numbers instead of letter grades -- and his feeling that the administration is refusing to listen to negative feedback.
Mogge said the teacher was placed on administrative leave Monday and was asked to leave the school before classes started. When asked Monday evening if he could confirm Lorber was allowed to return to school Tuesday, Mogge said he "cannot comment on personnel matters."
Rumors that the teacher was escorted out of the building by police are false, Mogge said. Lorber also confirmed he was not led out of school by police, and Bartlett Police Sgt. Geoff Pretkelis said the department didn't assist with anything at the school Monday.
"We have no role in this," Pretkelis said.
Mogge said students met with administrators in the school auditorium during a class period Monday, where they "had an open discussion." He did not offer details on what that discussion was about but said it was regarding rumors circulating in the school.
Lorber, now in his 17th year with U-46, spoke out week after week at U-46 board of education meetings in 2010 about the budget crisis facing the district. Last year, he resigned as the Elgin Teachers' Association's building representative at Bartlett High School due to "philosophical differences."
After Lorber left the building Monday, students took to Twitter, using the hashtag #freelorber to express their disappointment. Some said Lorber was one of their favorite teachers, while others said they felt he was being punished for speaking his mind.
On Facebook, members of a group called "School District U-46" reported being deleted from the group after Lorber and another U-46 teacher engaged in an open debate there over Lorber's decision to speak to the newspaper over the new grading scale. The group has now reportedly been changed from "open" to "secret" on Facebook.