Parents concerned following substitute teacher sexual misconduct claims

Parents concerned following substitute teacher sexual misconduct claims
Parents concerned following substitute teacher sexual misconduct claims
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 6:50 PM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois (KWQC) - According to the Rock Island-Milan School District, on May 11 a sixth grade substitute teacher was escorted out of the Rock Island Center for Math and Science following multiple claims he had been sexually inappropriate with young girls in his class.

Two of the girls’ parents told TV6 they feel the school didn’t act quickly enough to protect their children.

It started with a text message no mother wants to receive.

“At 2:08 p.m. I got a text from my daughter Jasmine talking about ‘mom tell me why a substitute teacher was looking at my boobs licking his lips,’” said Sarah Kruise, the mother of Jasmine Gillen, who was a sixth grader in the substitute teacher’s class.

Gillen says at recess around Noon she saw two of her classmates crying and telling the principal they had been touched inappropriately by the substitute.

She says around that time sub came out of the school to line the class up to go back inside.

When the students were lining up, Gillen said she had a strange interaction with the substitute.

“I was like, ‘how’s your day?’ and he comes a little too close,” said Gillen, “and I’m looking around like, ‘you guys are seeing this right?’ and out of literally nowhere he’s like, have you been to Florida?’ and I’m looking around confused and then I look down at my shirt.”

Gillen says she was wearing a T-shirt with the word Florida written on the chest. “I’m like ‘no’ and I’m just watching his eyes on my boobs,” she said.

Gillen says she gave a formal statement to the school about what happened along with a few of her classmates.

One mother who asked to remain anonymous said her daughter experienced a similar situation the day beforehand.

The woman said her daughter told her what happened after the teacher was escorted off campus the next day.

“[My daughter] dropped her pencil sharpener on the floor and bent over to pick it up,” said the woman, who then said her daughter noticed the teacher becoming aroused, “he made her feel uncomfortable and she asked to be moved to go sit somewhere else. I’m not comfortable that they just let the guy go.”

According to Gillen, the teacher was able to take the class back into the room to teach for a little while after the allegations came out at recess. He was then escorted out by the principal.

TV6 asked the school about this specific allegation and the school has not responded.

“My problem is they turn around and let that man take them back into the classroom,” said Kruise, “they were in the classroom 30 minutes before the principal came in to take him out about the accusations.”

According to parents the school did not tell them about the allegations until later in the afternoon. “If it wasn’t for my daughter messaging me at 2 p.m. I wouldn’t have heard about it utill 3:30,” said Kruise, adding, “we got a robo-call at 3:30 saying that for the sixth grade body that there was allegations brought to their attention.”

In an email to TV6, District Spokeswoman Holly Sparkman said the principal sent out a robo-call to the sixth grade families the evening of the alleged incidents. Sparkman said the principal also interviewed many students over the course of the afternoon and “worked on setting up supports to ensure that the students felt physically and emotionally safe.”

One parent, however, said she was not informed about the incident because her daughter, who attends the same school, is not in the sixth grade.

“He’s still a staff member,” said Stacey Charleton, mother of one fifth and one third grader at the school, “he’s an adult and could’ve taken advantage of any of our children so as parents we all should’ve been informed.”

Kruise says above all she feels concerned that the school called DCFS instead of police.

“I don’t feel safe sending my kid to a school knowing a procedure in a matter life that is to first call DCFS,” said Kruise.

TV6 reached out to the school district about their contact with DCFS. They said that the state of Illinois mandates teachers to report to DCFS when any suspected minor misconduct occurs. DCFS then communicates with local police, says the district.

The Rock Island-Milan School District says the situation is currently being investigated by police and that the school took the proper protocol.

The substitute teacher has not been charged formally so TV6 will not be naming him at this time.

According to the district’s employment website the teacher has been working for the district since 2018.

The following is the full statement the Rock Island-Milan School District gave to TV6 via email:

“On Wednesday, May 11, Principal Amy Nitzel received concerns from students regarding inappropriate and unprofessional behavior by a temporary/substitute individual at the Center for Math & Science.

The principal immediately removed the individual from the school campus and then gathered statements from the students and worked to set up supports to ensure that the students felt physically and emotionally safe.

Because personnel in RIMSD #41 are mandated by the State of Illinois to report to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) when they have reasonable cause to believe that a child (minor) may be abused or neglected, the information was reported to DCFS for investigation.

The school district is fully cooperating with the Rock Island Police Department and the Department of Children and Family Services in the investigation. The substitute/individual has been taken off the school district list and will no longer be used by RIMSD #41.

Student safety and well being is the top priority in RIMSD #41. Once Principal Nitzel was aware of the claims by students, she acted quickly in the situation to remove the substitute from the school, gather student statements and communicate with parents and staff about the situation that afternoon.

Given the sensitive nature of the claims, every effort was made to make sure the students emotional well-being was addressed and that parents were aware of the occurrence.”

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