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Our view: Troubling times in District 227

Updated: February 23, 2013 6:27AM



Last week, officials in Rich Township High School District 227 justifiably dismissed a special-education teacher for having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old woman who was a former student of his.

The Rich East High School teacher had the student in class last school year and the two stayed in contact over the summer, which led to them having sex several times between August and November, according to Park Forest police. The teacher was not charged because the girl was not a minor, but he was suspended last month and then dismissed.

That’s the right move on the district’s part.

Still, there’s a larger problem at work here. It seems more and more teachers across the country, men and women, are being accused of violating their positions of trust and having inappropriate sexual relationships with students.

It’s happening in school districts throughout the country, not just in District 227 — although, this teacher was the district’s third in four years to be fired or to resign for having sex with a student. In addition, a male guidance counselor was terminated last fall for writing a racy book that contained crude references to female sexuality.

The vast majority of teachers are good people who put in countless hours of hard work to teach our kids and help them grow. It’s the few bad ones who are the problem. We know.

But teachers’ image and professionalism are sullied when this sort of impropriety is uncovered.

That’s why there needs to be greater vigilance and self-policing among educators to spot the warning signs of trouble and stop these illicit relationships before they happen.

As for District 227, school board member Emmanuel Imoukhuede described the teacher’s conduct as “disheartening” and “sickening.”

We agree. We urge the district to review and improve its hiring policy to try to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

We strongly believe such action is necessary. One faculty sex scandal is too many. Three in four years suggests a dangerous pattern.



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