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Teacher living with student resigns as officials probe sex abuse charges

Updated: January 3, 2012 9:06AM

A female math teacher in Hoffman Estates has resigned after officials learned she arranged for a student to move into her apartment — a relationship that state officials are now investigating as possibly sexually exploitive.

The Hoffman Estates High School teacher was placed on “emergency” suspension without pay earlier this month by Township High School District 211 because she was suspected of exploiting the student, a letter to the teacher from the district said. The Nov. 4th letter was obtained by Sun-Times Media via a Freedom of Information Act request.

Furthermore, according to the notice of suspension sent to the teacher, state child welfare officials believe there is reasonable cause to suspect the student was sexually exploited. The teacher resigned on Nov. 10, according to district Supt. Nancy Robb.

The district was informed in September that a student was living with a teacher, according to an earlier letter sent to the teacher on Sept. 23, also obtained via a FOIA request.

“The evening we found out about it we contacted” the Department of Children and Family Services, Robb said Wednesday. The next morning, district officials conducted the first of two interviews with the teacher.

“It was apparent during the interviews that you have an emotional attachment that goes far beyond the teacher/student relationship,” Robb wrote in one letter to the teacher. “You have cultivated an inappropriate relationship with and breached the trust and professionalism you are expected to uphold with your students.”

The teacher was directed to undergo a psychiatric exam, and since district officials learned of the arrangement between the teacher and student, “she has not had any contact with students,” Robb said. “She has not been back at school.”

The teacher was placed on administrative leave in September and on Nov. 7, was suspended without pay. “I believe you engaged in the exploitation of a student by abuse of position,” Robb wrote the teacher. “Furthermore, by having a current Hoffman Estates High School student move into your apartment, an inappropriate relationship was cultivated which was exploitive in nature and violated reasonable boundary expectations of teachers in District 211.”

DCFS also found reasonable cause to suspect the victim was abused sexually, Robb wrote.

A DCFS representative could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hoffman Estates police, in a statement Wednesday, said they are “investigating a report of an alleged inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student.” No charges have been filed.

A social worker has been counseling the student and the student’s family, Robb said.

In interviews with the school district, the teacher said the student displayed behavioral difficulties in school in the third quarter of the 2010-11 school year. The teacher offered to tutor the student, and after the two initially met after school in a classroom, the student’s grade improved. During spring break, the teacher and student met at a local restaurant and continued to meet at restaurants for the remainder of the school year.

The teacher then offered to help him during the summer and the two met nearly daily, often at the teacher’s apartment, for study sessions that lasted one to four hours, the teacher told officials, according to the letter. The teacher told district officials that, on several occasions, she and the student would watch movies or go out to eat in addition to studying.

At some point, the student told the teacher his mother was looking to move. The teacher said she did not want the student to move out of the area because they were making progress, and the student also expressed the desire to finish the year at Hoffman Estates High School.

The two had previously discussed the idea of the student moving in with the teacher but determined it was unrealistic because it could jeopardize her teaching position. But when the student’s mother said a move was imminent, the teacher suggested the student live with her for the upcoming 2011-12 school year.

The teacher told district officials the mother agreed, and that she and the student had an overt agreement that living arrangements would be withheld from school officials and others at school, including friends, because others could assume something improper was taking place in the relationship.

The teacher told officials several times that she had not had sexual contact with the student and that their only physical contact consisted of a hug each night before the student went to bed. When people would ask whom the student was staying with, the student would say a “godmother.”

While staying in the teacher’s apartment the student had his own bedroom and bathroom, and was given a key to the apartment. The student moved into the apartment one week before school started on Aug. 23, and the teacher provided financial support, including food, clothing spending money. The teacher also provided the student with a car and paid for gas, the letter said.

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