Four full-time members of McHenry County College’s counseling department were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday and escorted out by police.


Amy Taylor, Patricia Zokal ( front left) and Luisa Lauf pose for a portrait at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake Wednesday, March 8, 2017. The four full-time members of McHenry County College’s counseling department were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday and escorted out by police.

“In 30 years I’ve never been told I’ve had five minutes to get out. Never seen anything like this and was totally shocked when it happened,” said Ellen Zimmerman, who worked as a mental health counselor at McHenry Community College.

“We have a relationship with these students,” said bilingual counselor Luisa Lauf. “And we’re supposed to notify them when we’re leaving but were unable to do that.”

“There was no transition period for someone to pick those up immediately,” full-time counselor Patricial Zokal said. “The resources we picked up are basically just gone now.”

Zokal has been with the college for 14 years.

“I believe they got rid of the one department that is solely there for student success,” said Amy Taylor, former department chairwoman and full-time counselor for MCC.

The layoffs were the result of Governor Rauner’s budget impasse, although McHenry Community College has one of the highest administrative payrolls in the area according to the Illinois Community College Board.

The McHenry County College Board of Trustees will consider cutting faculty, support staff and administrators at a special board meeting Thursday.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. in Room A217 at MCC, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake. It is open to the public. College officials declined to say Wednesday how many positions could be eliminated.
The board will consider three separate resolutions requested to reduce support staff, nontenured and tenured faculty and administration, according to the agenda.
An MCC employee told me, “We pay them (adminstration) more than others. And their pay has surpassed the rate of inflation over the past 15 years.”

5 Replies to “Four full-time members of McHenry County College’s counseling department were unexpectedly laid off on Tuesday and escorted out by police.”

  1. Not allowing counselors/mental health professionals to properly terminate a counseling relationship is unethical conduct (especially when budget cuts/RIF becomes the reason for termination). Many professional associations have an “Ethics List” for institutions and employers who violate professional codes. This is a terrible situation, for both the counselors involved, and for their client college students.

  2. This is so like MCC administration and Board of Trustees! They have always been a viciously anti-union, anti-worker, arrogant group. They have had an attitude of lack of respect for professional educators and support staff. If the counselors are replaced at all, it will probably be with lower wage “advisors” who are not actual qualified, degreed counselors.

  3. I was just overwhelmed when I heard about this at the college yesterday, especially the ignominious, humiliating way in which it was done. My wife, however, who has decades of work in a corporate setting (hospitals) just says “that’s just how they do it these days!”
    Music lovers–beware, it is no secret that the ENTIRE Music Department is very much likely to be next according to statements from at least one administrator !! As a senior citizen I’m overjoyed to see any activity that keeps a young person from staring into a device at all times, if not just the joy of music at every turn in our lives. If a youngster successfully studies band, chorus, or music theory through high school but can’t for some reason go right to the university or full college level, they would hit a dead end in McHenry County. Continuing involvement for alumni, community enrichment opportunities for older players (like me),– gone. Graduation ceremonies, Memorial Day ceremonies, etc. will be pretty dry without the music students who volunteer their time, provide their own transportation, and invest untold thousands of dollars in instruments to attend and play and sing at all of these functions for lack of a place to rehearse, sheet music, and a director and providers of lessons. Concerts for public enjoyment (“Oh, we don’t really need those”),–done for.
    I know this is about the counselors, and my heart goes out to them as they sit today with their families, with one suddenly lost income and an arrow in their sense of dignity. Its also about–what is next? What to do? Elect Board of Trustee candidates who will support the MCC staff and the college’s very own mission statement: “Our focus is learning. Student success is our goal !” My research shows that Linda Liddel and Tom Allen are the only candidates that will best support the interest of the students, staff, and college as a whole. Vote April 4. it matters. .

    1. That may be true. I expressed my sorrow for the counselors, especially in how it was done. And with the state budget systems causing much of these problems, I’m sure some cuts need to be made. When you’re in the woods with a group of people running from a hungry bear, you don’t have to outrun the bear, just the slowest person. My (our, as my statement echoed conclusions reached by a fellow band member who had decades of experience in school administration) concern, now, is further cuts, meaning the music department. We feel these two will be our best bet.

      After (if, ever…) this state problem is solved, and things return to normal (the NEW normal, as they say….I know declining enrollment is unlikely to end) you could make amends with the counselors (yeaaa, right) and rehire them just as quickly as they were let go. But you will never “get the band back together!”

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