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Student pregnant, DNA points to assistant principal; no firing

By Scott Reeder, Small Newspaper Group Springfield Bureau
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Photo: Scott Reeder
Maxsimillion Quarles

BELLEVILLE – “Maxsimillion is pregnant by Dr. Hayes.”

That allegation was spray painted across a row of lockers in an East St. Louis junior high school, Maxsimillion Quarles recalled.

Quarles was a 14-year-old seventh-grader and Dr. Joseph Hayes was the assistant principal.

The year was 1985, a time when Illinois lawmakers were praising themselves for passing education reforms that they claimed would make it easier to fire bad educators.

The reality, Maxsimillion learned was much different.

Even though a blood test indicated a greater than 99 percent chance that Hayes was the father, a labor arbitrator ruled there was insufficient evidence to fire this tenured educator.

He was acquitted in a criminal sexual abuse case and continued to be employed in East St. Louis schools for another nine years, until a DNA test showed an even greater likelihood that Hayes was the father.

At this point a judge ordered him to pay child support and his teaching certificate was suspended by a state board responsible for licensing teachers.

“What that man did to me was absolutely devastating. It absolutely changed my life. They should be able to pay good teachers more and it should be easier to fire the bad ones,” Quarles said.

Quarles, who is now a social worker for battered women, tells the story like this:

Hayes began flirting with her and asking her to run special errands for him. He later saw her leaving basketball practice and offered her a ride. They ended up in his home where they had intercourse.

“He took me into his living room and began kissing me and taking off my clothes. I was scared and didn’t know what to do. I was naďve and had been brought up to obey adults. … It was the first time I had been with a man.”

When her mother confronted her about the pregnancy, she said she lied at first and told her several names of boys that could be the father.

It was these inconsistencies in her story that may well have led to a jury acquitting Hayes in a criminal case, her attorney John Johnston contends.

Her son Christopher Quarles died unexpectedly in 2003 at age 17 of a rare heart condition, further compounding the tragedy.

“Joe Hayes wouldn’t have anything to do with his own son and now he has lost that chance,” Quarles said.

Hayes did not respond to a letter and phone calls from Small Newspaper Group seeking comment.

The case represents some of the unique challenges in firing a teacher.

“The thing that makes these tenure dismissal cases so difficult is that it is usually the word of a teacher against that of a child. And teacher unions will do anything they can to win,” said Springfield attorney Lorilea Buerkett, who represents various government entities including school districts.

Scott Reeder can be contacted at 217-525-8201.

Hearing officer's report in the Joseph Hayes case