The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

High School Drama

By Alicia Dorr in News on Oct 12, 2006 2:36PM

Since the beginning of time, there have been teachers who got under the skin of the administration of their schools. Whether it's due to their freewheeling forthrightedness, as seen in the movies, or the inevitability of their departure, as seen in other, less-inspiring movies, they have always been ppuscg5.gifforced against a brick wall of ludicrously strict officials. But rarely have these agitators and fascist regime-style administrations stepped off the big screen and into our lives.

That's exactly what seems to have happened at Palatine-based Conant High School in Hoffman Estates. The facts are muddled in this case, though, as to who is right or wrong in this case (making it only the stuff of Lifetime movies). On one side there is tenured science teacher Suzanne Rausch, a real ball-buster known for speaking her mind and getting on the nerves of her superiors while doing it.

On the other is an irrational administration that has accused Rausch of writing an anonymous letter pointing to another teacher's illegal behavior. Rausch was a suspect because the letter, which claimed to be written by a student, was directed at the school's science department chairman, a man who she allegedly didn't respect and a job she apparently vied for. The administration didn't just accuse her, though; they spent $25,000 of taxpayer money on legal fees, forensics testing and handwriting analysts. They had DNA tests done on the sticky strip of the envelope and sought writing analysts to determine if she addressed the letter (the letter itself was computer generated).

No conclusive evidence has been found, it seems, but the board still voted to oust the teacher, an almost unheard-of situation considering she's tenured. Rausch has appealed the dismissal, but right now it seems like everything is up in the air. All we're wondering is -- what the hell? Were they really that desperate to get her out that they would spend all that time and money on something that was barely provable? Are we missing something here? We suppose the movie isn't over yet, but the plot is becoming too convoluted to follow.