NEW BERLIN – The Illinois Education Association (IEA) will file an Unfair Labor Practice charge with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB) against the New Berlin School District after Joe Kindred, the former New Berlin Education Association (NBEA) president, teacher and baseball coach, was fired. The IEA also is challenging the disciplinary action taken against the current NBEA President Tonya Delaney at the New Berlin School District Board of Education meeting on June 25.
“Joe has the full power of the IEA behind him. We are pursuing legal action to make sure actions like this don’t go unchecked,” IEA President Kathi Griffin said. “We believe his termination was unlawful and we won’t stand for it. An injury to one is an injury to all.”
The board’s move to dismiss Kindred and discipline Delaney comes after the union took a vote of no confidence against former Superintendent Adam Ehrman in October. Shortly after the union vote, the administration began investigations into NBEA leaders, including Kindred and Delaney.
“Before Joe was my union president, he was a mentor, respected colleague and friend. Knowing it would be a challenge, Mr. Kindred assumed the role of union president and worked tirelessly to unite our collective voice to advocate for the students and teachers of the New Berlin school district,” NBEA spokesperson Jennifer Tom said.
The NBEA represents more than 60 teachers within the New Berlin School District. Kindred has spent nearly 15 years in the district as a high school math teacher and the baseball coach. The district has three schools and serves 950 students.
“In my eight years with New Berlin, there has never been a back to school where Mr. Kindred wasn’t there to welcome back his students, ball players and fellow teachers. His absence leaves an irreparable hole in our staff,” Tom said. “The students of New Berlin need their teacher in the classroom where he belongs.”
“We stand with Joe. Our community is united in our efforts to get him his job back, and we won’t stop until we do,” Parent Holly Kotner said. “I’m glad the IEA is pursuing legal action, but this could all be avoided if the board simply reinstates Joe.”
The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.