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updated: 6/30/2014 11:09 PM

Dist. 15 says illness led to principal's reassignment

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The Palatine Township Elementary District 15 school board on Monday night approved a termination agreement with longtime employee Mary Szuch that accommodates a major health problem.

Szuch attended the special meeting and thanked the board for approving the arrangement.

"It has been a pleasure to work in District 15 for the last 28 years," said Szuch, who most recently was the principal of Whiteley Elementary School. "And I appreciate the board of education's efforts in working with me to address the realities of my medical condition."

Szuch later told the Daily Herald that she was diagnosed with leukemia in October 2013.

Shortly after her diagnosis, Szuch was transferred to a special assignment, Superintendent Scott Thompson said Monday. She worked on special projects, research and data analysis, he said.

The termination agreement stipulates that Szuch will continue to work for the district in her new role until she retires on Dec. 28, which is when she will be eligible to collect her pension from the state. Szuch will be paid a $48,000 salary from July 1 until Dec. 28 and will also receive all of her benefits.

Thompson said the district was not able to publicly address Szuch's removal as principal because it was a personnel matter. In March, the board voted to give itself the option to demote Szuch to a teacher, but officials would not comment then on why the action was taken.

Thompson said Monday that the move was procedural, in case the district was unable to keep Szuch on as an administrator.

At the March meeting, board member Manjula Sriram requested the move be monitored "to make sure that our children are safe." Sriram clarified later that she meant the safety of the district's children as a whole. When asked Monday about her comments in March, she deferred comment to Board President Peggy Babcock, who then deferred comment to Thompson.

Thompson said he doesn't know what prompted Sriram's comment in March. He said at that point the board had been informed only that Szuch had a medical condition, so Sriram might have jumped to conclusions

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