Kidney donor may lose job over residency

June 16, 2010 (CHICAGO)

Dan Coyne of Evanston has been told his job as a social worker is in jeopardy unless he moves to Chicago to satisfy a residency requirement. He has worked for Chicago Public Schools since 2002.

Coyne says when he was hired he was told the residency requirement was being waived. Now, it appears school officials are looking to enforce the rule.

Coyne is losing his job at a time he is being honored by his peers for his unselfish act of donating his kidney. The social worker is still upbeat and is taking it all in stride and says this decision will not impact him as much as the children he counsels.

"She was the clerk who was nice to everybody and when she started to look deathly ill and told me her need, I asked if I could help and it worked," said Coyne.

When Coyne volunteered to donate his kidney back in march to a woman he barely knew, he found himself the center of attention. But the good natured social worker for CPS preferred all the attention to go to Myra De La Vega, the grocery store clerk who received his kidney. Thanks to his donation, she is off dialysis, is back at work part time and both of their families have grown close.

"I told my kids if something happens to me or grandma, you can call him because he is family," said De La Vega.

But now Coyne is back in the spotlight. The Evanston resident is in danger of losing his job because he does not live in Chicago. In fact, he received a letter from CPS last week that he could lose his job for violating the residency requirement on the same day his mother died.

"I did get a letter from human resources and went downtown to talk to them because there's no shenanagans on my part," said Coyne.

Coyne says the district waived the residency requirement when he was hired nine years ago. CPS says that policy has since been amended. Now, only certain special education personnel are allowed to live outside the city.

"That's something that we'll need to look at: how do we communicate the new policy to Mr. Coyne and how was that communication explained," said Monique Bond, Chicago Public Schools spokesperson.

Coyne says he wants to stay in Evanston and is prepared for the last day of school this Friday to be his last day on the job. But not before he is honored Thursday as a humanitarian by his fellow social workers for donating his kidney. He credits his strong faith for being able to handle such a touch turn of events. But De La Vega, who will be at the ceremony, is more outspoken.

"Why, why all of a sudden, if they want to follow the rules, why after all these years? I wish they would reconsider the firing," said De La Vega.

Ron Huberman, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is expected to be at the ceremony also. Coyne asked De La Vega for advice on what to say in his speech. She said speak from the heart.

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