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Illinois Teacher Fired for 1974 Marijuana Misdemeanor, Files Lawsuit to Challenge State Law


November 1996

In December 1995, Bloom High School in Illinois fired Mike Maynard from his teaching position because of a 22-year-old conviction for marijuana possession. Maynard filed a lawsuit and has been campaigning to change the 1985 state law that required his termination (Julie Deardorff, "Fired educator fights state law," Chicago Tribune, September 27, 1996, s. 2, p. 1).

In 1974, Maynard, then 20, pleaded guilty to possession of half an ounce of marijuana that police discovered in his car after a minor traffic accident. Maynard paid a $100 fine and thought the incident was over.

After a routine background check revealed his past conviction, Maynard was fired. Illinois state law requires schools to fire teachers who have been convicted for certain crimes, including misdemeanor drug offenses, but not murder or robbery. "We did what we were bound to do by state law," said Bloom Township District 206 Board President George Michael.

Maynard, 42, immediately sued the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois Teacher Certification Board, and Bloom County District 206 to get his teaching position back. The teacher says the law is unconstitutional because it punishes him retroactively and does not allow him to appeal. "The intent is good, but the message to kids with this law is: 'Don't bother trying if you've made a mistake in the past because you've messed up for the rest of your life,'" said Maynard.

For information to help Mike Maynard, contact William J. Borah at 2024 Hickory Rd., Suite 1, NE, Homewood, Illinois 60430, Tel: (708) 799-0066.