Dan Bridges, the new superintendent in District 203 in Naperville, was serving as principal of West Aurora High School in 2010, when a custodian reported an encounter between then-band director Steve Orland and a female student, the Daily Herald reports.
Mr Orland has since been convicted of sexually assaulting two other female students and sentenced to 12 years, according to a report in the March 9 edition of the Chicago Tribune. In an agreement with Kane County prosecutors, the 42-year-old band director pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal sexual abuse, which took place in 2010.
Now Mr Bridges is coming under fire from state officials who say the situation should have been reported to child protective services so they could conduct their own investigation.
“Schools can sometimes make the mistake of thinking that they have the option to do their own internal evaluation of the seriousness and credibility of allegations,” Illinois Department of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe told the Daily Herald. “They do not have that option. They have the legal duty to call the hotline so professional child protection investigators can do the job they are trained to do.”
Meanwhile, school board president Mike Jaensch said the district’s brand new superintendent has his full support.
“My understanding is he did his job to the best of his ability by running the investigation and reporting to his superintendent. I’m actually very pleased with how Dan handled the entire situation,” the Daily Herald quoted him as saying.
In the course of his internal investigation, Mr Bridges made handwritten notes during an interview with the custodian. Those notes reportedly indicated that the custodian had observed no actual physical contact, just giggling and close proximity. The notes were reportedly forwarded to the district superintendent, who on advice of counsel did not contact authorities.
Illinois’s reporting laws
Taken from the Illinois Compiled Statutes, 325 ILCS 5/4, here. A briefer version can be found on the FAQ page of Illinois’s DCFS, here.
Other state laws
Although we have found a few dead links on this page, we can’t find any more comprehensive resource for mandatory reporting laws in all states, here.
Investigative journalism and excellent writing are abundant in an extensive report about West Aurora District 129’s handling of this important matter in the Sept. 5 issue of
The headline is, “West Aurora school district faces probe for not reporting suspected sex abuse,” and the HTML page title is “DCFS says West Aurora school officials violated state law.”