The Forest Park Elementary School Board of Education, on Dec. 13, approved a settlement to a former part-time lunch attendant who sued District 91 in March for allegedly firing her for alerting the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF) that the district had removed her retirement benefits and taken away 40 sick days accrued over 16 years.

Forest Park resident Jamie Alonzo, age 58 at the time of the lawsuit, also alleged in Federal Court that the board fired her in 2010 because of her age and the fact that she was white.

Jamie Alonzo is the wife of park district board member Sam Alonzo. On Jamie Alonzo lists her current position as Concession Manager at the Park District of Forest Park.

The board voted to pay $10,000 to Jamie Alonzo and $5,000 to her lawyer, Timothy J. Coffey of Chicago.

According to Jamie Alonzo’s complaint, the district notified her in fall of 2010 that she would no longer be eligible for retirement benefits and that accrued sick days would be taken away. According to the complaint, Alonzo went to the Oak Brook offices of the IMRF and complained. The complaint also states that employees are eligible for IMRF benefits if they work more than 600 hours in a school year.

Alonzo, who was hired by the school district in 1994 and worked in the lunch room at Forest Park Middle School, alleged that her complaint triggered a “compliance review” of D91 and that the district reinstated her retirement fund participation and sick days.

However, the suit claims, the school board terminated her in retaliation. The school board denied all charges of retaliation in response to the complaint.

Alonzo also claimed that she was terminated because of her age and because she was white, and that no other employees of similar age or race were let go. The board denied in its response to the complaint that Jamie Alonzo was discriminated against for her age or race.

As part of the settlement, which the Forest Park Review obtained through a Freedom of Information request, Alonzo agreed not to seek employment or re-employment with the district nor to volunteer or set foot on D91 property without permission from the superintendent.

According to the agreement, both Alonzo and the board promised that if asked about the settlement, they will simply say the dispute was “amicably resolved.”

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