District 99: Hire a Consultant Who Specializes in Educator Sexual Misconduct
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District 99 (Downers Grove, IL) does not have adequate policies, procedures, and training to protect students from sexual assault and harassment from teachers and other staff members. In 2016, a DGN volunteer serving in a teaching capacity for the marching band was convicted of aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a band student. In an unrelated incident in 2017, longtime assistant band director Bill Miller resigned; there are currently 4 civil lawsuits pending against the school for incidents of sexual abuse by Bill Miller from 4 different “Jane Does,” who were students at the time of incidents. A criminal investigation into Miller’s actions is ongoing.
District 99 needs to do more to protect the students in its care. Teacher training is insufficient, clear teacher/student boundaries have not been put into place (making it easier for abusers to groom), students are kept in the dark about their rights and ability to report on teacher-abusers, written guidelines and a code of conduct are weak and hard to find...the list goes on.
We’re asking Hank Thiele, the superintendent of schools, to hire a consultant from SESAME (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct, and Explotation), a non-profit organization that has been advising Chicago Public Schools in the wake of their incident just like DGN's, which resulted in CPS losing a portion of their federal funding for not fulfilling their Title IX duties.
Some of what we hope the district will accomplish with SESAME’s help:
--Strengthen policies and procedures around sexual misconduct to go beyond what is legally required and instead, do the maximum possible to protect students and recent grads from being preyed upon by District 99 faculty
--Help implement better training to help teachers identify “red flag” behavior when it comes to student grooming, and know what to do if they think they need to make a report
--Help District 99’s Title IX Coordinators, Pete Theis and Gina Zaccardi, implement effective paths of communication that inform students and parents of their Title IX rights, as well as rules students should know that keep them safe, e.g. “no being in a teacher’s car alone.”
--Add language to the Athletics and Activities Handbook and other materials that reminds teachers and students of what the proper boundaries are and gives reporting guidelines
SESAME is ready and willing to help! However, Hank Thiele has stated that he feels legal consultants and broad school board resolutions banning all forms of sexual harassment by anyone in general are enough. Please sign this position to tell him you feel otherwise.
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