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Rich Township H.S. district appoints lawyer to investigate coach who wrote racy book

Rich Central High School girl's basketball coach Bryan Craig.   l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

Rich Central High School girl's basketball coach Bryan Craig. l Gary Middendorf~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 6, 2012 1:46PM

The Rich Township High School District 227 Board held a special meeting Tuesday but postponed any decision regarding the status of a school guidance counselor who has authored a racy book with graphic sexual references.

The board said it will vote on Bryan Craig’s status Sept. 18, following an investigation by the district’s law firm and a hearing for Craig. The inquiry might include a review of email and video footage, according to Board President Betty Owens.

Meanwhile, Craig, 33, of Matteson, is not allowed on District 227 property, according to district officials.

Craig, a faculty member since 2004, last week was suspended as a counselor at Rich Central and resigned as the school’s varsity girls basketball coach following a SouthtownStar report on a book he wrote, It’s Her Fault, which contains his controversial and often crude views on women and sex.

District 227 Supt. Donna Simpson Leak said last week that she knew about the book and its contents for about a week before the story appeared and cited Craig’s “constitutional right to free speech.”

Former Rich Central High School Principal Margurite Martin, who worked in the district for 36 years, told the school board Tuesday that the “charges for you as a board are not to allow the issue of free speech to minimize the message Mr. Craig is espousing. The message lacks integrity and moral turpitude.”

Board member Sheila Friday said parents should have been notified as soon as district officials learned of Craig’s book.

“It made front page news as it should have,” Friday said. “When I read the book on Friday, I was appalled.”

“His decision to author a manual on sexuality is a complete failure in professionalism,” board member Emmanuel Imoukuhede said of Craig. “I want to make certain that a coach did not use any district resources or any of his work time in producing this book, which displayed a complete disrespect for women.”

Owens said she thinks the district’s sexual harassment policy applies to Craig’s case, citing its provision that employees should not engage in any “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.”

District 227 also has a coaching conduct policy that says coaches should refrain from foul or abusive language and maintain the “highest ethical standards.”

Before the board went into closed session Tuesday, some in the audience had harsh words for district officials about their handling of the matter.

The mother of a boy who was sexually abused by a Rich South teacher about four years ago, said, “We have seen previous instances of a lack of moral character [in the district]. It’s an outrage that freedom of speech is a concern.”

Former Rich South teacher Sarah Tolzien pleaded guilty in 2010 to misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse for having sex with a 16-year-old Matteson boy twice in November 2008. Tolzien also coached the boys varsity cross-country team.

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