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Get teacher off the payroll

It is sickening to learn that an East St. Louis District 189 teacher has been accused of having an improper relationship with a 14-year-old boy — and that she continues to draw a paycheck from the taxpayers.

The teacher hasn’t been charged with any crime; the FBI and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services continue to investigate. But based on the statements of a school spokeswoman, there doesn’t seem to be any doubt that the relationship took place. School officials usually don’t provide support to the child’s family over an “unfortunate development” or offer counseling services to other students unless they are convinced of the merit of the allegations.

The teacher has not been fired; she is on unpaid leave pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. Whether she is guilty of a crime and whether she should be employed as a teacher are two separate and distinct things. The criminal justice process can take months or years. But if school officials have enough information to convince them the allegations are true, they know she cannot return to the classroom, so why wait to fire her?

At a minimum, the teacher should be assigned to an office, away from students, and doing something productive to earn her paycheck. As comedian Jay Leno once observed, being put on paid leave isn’t a punishment; it’s a vacation.

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