In one of the first teacher dismissal decisions of 2017, school districts across the state of Illinois scored a victory as an independent hearing officer upheld the dismissal of a tenured teacher for improperly assisting students during the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), finding that such conduct was irremediable per se.

The ruling was based in large part on the testimony of several young students who bravely admitted that their teacher gave them the correct answers to the exam by either tapping or pointing to the correct answers on their answer sheets or on their test booklets. Not surprisingly, the teacher denied engaging in any inappropriate communication with the students during the exam.

Since the Illinois State Board of Education did not invalidate the test scores and the students were not required to retake the ISAT, there were no actual damages present. However, without any evidence discrediting the students' testimony, the hearing officer found it was more likely than not that the students' version of the teacher's conduct was accurate.

In finding that this type of conduct was irremediable per se, the hearing officer upheld the teacher's dismissal without the need for a showing of evidence of actual damages, broadening the scope of "immoral conduct." With this decision, school districts across Illinois can more confidently initiate dismissal proceedings when a teacher engages in cheating on assessments.