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Bridges new District 203 superintendent

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After three months as interim superintendent, Dan Bridges has been officially been named District 203 superintendent on a full-time basis.
On the heels of his appointment comes word that the Department of Children and Family Services says the West Aurora School District should have filed a report with DCFS regarding a 2010 incident at West Aurora High School of an encounter between a band director and a female student. Bridges was principal at the time and the incident was reported to him

91 Comments

1) So when do we get more Bridges news?

2) WHEW!!! I was concerned Mr. Higgins was going to throw his hat into the ring.

3) ADK. no. It is already being offered to those who need it here in D203.

-1

W. Aurora has thrown Bridges under the bus! That is about the only thing that is clear about what they had to say about the SB's "internal investigation" of the SD's conduct in what transpired.

If I was a parent in W. Aurora I would be horrified and very, very afraid for the continued safety of my children in an environment that continues to be oblivious to what is actually mandated by the law. It is a total joke for the SB to investigate themselves and then attempt to exonerate themselves. What did anyone expect... that the SB would make a public statement admitting they screwed up?

The potential of continued abuse within this school district is a very real threat to the children of W.Aurora because of the mindset, attitude, and continued denial expressed by this administration.

What's even scarier is we hired the problem and our school board is just as guilty as W. Aurora in failing to comprehend the law and the malfeasance that transpired.

Still no sign of Higgins! Pretty funny how he's been hiding lately on this issue! Come on out Thom. Where are you?

David,

Not sure I can agree with the part about: "Of course, Bridges did not commit any sexual misconduct and probably cares a great deal about the safety and well-being of students."

If Bridges cared a great deal about the safety and well-being of students a reasonable person would argue that the course of action he took would have been much different than the course of action he actually followed.

Having done what he did raises two very important points:

First, is a principal who did what he is alleged to have done fit to serve in any kind of a school district leadership position?

Second, knowing what we now know he is alleged to have done places our school district at an extra ordinary risk to be liable for a minimum of treble damages if anything similar now happens in SD203 while he is superintendent.

From a basic standpoint of what the competitive field of candidates consists of Bridges is perhaps the least qualified in terms of education and for sure in terms of experience. To hire a questionable candidate raises red flags, to hire a questionable candidate with this much baggage puts the competence of the entire school board under a microscope.

All things considered the financial risk associated with not knowing for sure what Bridges will do next time he is faced with a similar situation just isn't worth the only thing he has going for him and that is a personality that charmed the school board beyond making a logical and rational hiring decision.

My letter to the editor:

An Independent Investigation Of Superintendent Bridges Is Critical; The Board of Education Has Failed Us.

A sexual predator who worked at Aurora West High School victimized young students while Dan Bridges was the school’s principal. CBS2 has recently reported that West Aurora High School officials are being accused of covering up the incident. The Kane County States Attorney is reportedly investigating Bridges and others. Bridges has been named in a civil lawsuit brought by the victim. The Department of Children and Family Services (“DCFS”) has been critical of the failure to report the possibility of abuse.
These are disturbing allegations that I hope and pray turn out to be false. Everyone involved in education knows that if there is any reason to suspect child abuse, it must be reported to DCFS.
If even some of these allegations turn out to be true, it raises serious questions about Bridges’ ability to head School District 203. An effective superintendent must lead by example.
With these allegations in the background, it is troubling that the news reports surrounding Bridges broke just two days after the Board of Education permitted the execution of his lucrative $200,000+ per year contract. As the Naperville Sun recently opined, Board of Education members have offered inconsistent views about whether they knew about the allegations at the time they entered into the contract.
If Bridges knew about the impending investigations and did not disclose to School District 203 the full extent of the mess that was on the horizon, this is very troubling. On the other hand, if the Board of Education in fact knew about the extent of the allegations made against Bridges and rushed into signing a contract with him, this is equally troubling.
What is clear is that the Board of Education is defensive about its decision. As the Naperville Sun characterized it, the Board “is essentially circling the wagons — saying Bridges was the right guy for the job, they don’t regret having hired him, and everything is coming up roses in 203.”
Has anyone on the Board conducted an investigation? Have any of them spoken with DCFS about its concerns about Bridges? Have any of them spoken with the other employees at Aurora West High School to hear their side of the story? Have they reviewed any of the documents that CBS2’s Dave Savini reported contradicting what Bridges has now claimed occurred?
School District 203 needs to arrange for an outside professional to figure out what really happened.
Just 8 weeks ago, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a downstate Illinois school district could be sued for concealing information about sexual misconduct towards female students by a teacher. The Supreme Court held that “public policy concerns for the protection of children, particularly from the dangers of sex offenders, weigh in favor of finding a duty” to not conceal such information.
Of course, Bridges did not commit any sexual misconduct and probably cares a great deal about the safety and well-being of students. But to avoid ongoing public embarrassment or a lawsuit against School District 203 (like the one that is pending against Bridges and his prior school district) if such an incident ever occurred like this in one of our schools, there must be a detached and independent investigation to figure out exactly what happened.
We owe it to the students to keep them safe and to the taxpayers to be fiscally responsible.

David Fish
Parent of Three School District 203 Children
The Fish Law Firm, P.C.

Not a single follow-up story by the Naperville Sun on Bridges and how he handled the abuse at Aurora West?

Yet Dave Savini and CBS Chicago did some digging and exposed more to this cover-up than was previously known and aired it on CBS Chicago last night.

Savini also was able to interview the janitor and some of the parents whose children were involved. Great investigative reporting. It is a shame we don't see more of that by our local media...

Clearly the political heat is being dialed up on the Kane County SA office to take action soon.

And what will be the political fallout here in SD 203? By all appearances our school board intends to do nothing, including even discussing the matter during a public session. It is unknown if they have discussed the matter in a closed session and they sure aren't saying.

By all appearances it would suggest our school board will steadfastly refuse to do anything until such time as Bridges is arrested and charged. And even if Bridges is arrested and charged the school board will probably do nothing except make excuses for him and their own lapses in oversight in vetting and hiring Bridges. And no doubt our school board will try to buy more time hoping Bridges can somehow get found not guilty of anything he may be charged with by Kane County.

By then though it will be too late for each and every one of them politically.

There are many things Naperville parents and taxpayers will tolerate with local school officials but hiring employees who don't follow the law in cases of suspected child abuse is not one of them. That just hits too close to home for comfort.

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Could someone at Naperville Sun please dig into what causes this repeated error message and advise everyone of what we need to do to avoid this roadblock when we are posting?

Just as a reminder - Jaensch. Crotty and others are elected officials who will stay in office if there are no viable people who run against them. Now is the time to think about running for D203 school board or speak with a person that you feel would make a good candidate. Citizens who consider running against incumbents need a lot of support; I will be making an effort to reach out to future candidates and get to know them. From the 203 website:
"Candidate packets including nominating petition forms for the April 9, 2013 school board election for Naperville Community Unit School District 203 will be available on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. Forms may be picked up in the office of the board secretary (Ann Bell) at 203 W. Hillside Road, Naperville, IL 60540 on any business day between the hours of 8 AM and 4:30 PM. Candidates may begin circulating their nominating petitions for signatures no earlier than September 25, 2012."

Just curious if I'm under some sort of double secret probation, or something. Five posts in the last week, and... nada,

"I am curious if Thom Higgins is tired of defending this incompetent board? When will he admit he was wrong?"

Thom's ego is way too big for him to ever admit he was wrong. Over the last several years of Potluck postings has Thom ever demonstrated an ounce of humility?

Thom tired of defending this incompetent board? Not hardly. If past history is to be our guide Thom will probably defend everything and anything about SD230 until they pry the keyboard out of his cold, dead hands.

Remember, a lap dog only gets rewards and treats as long as it does what it is told, is obedient, and is loyal. And this lap dog has been patted on the head and rewarded many times over for his unwavering loyalty.

An intuitive or inquisitve person only needs to stop and ask themselves some logical and rational questions as to why a person would do what he has done and what rewards he seeks, such as: Why would a parent of school age students in SD 203 be such a polarizing force behind absolutely every action the school district takes? What would such a person hope to personally gain for himself or his family from his actions? Who will benefit most from what he has said and done?

Keep in mind that Thom staunchly supports and defends the teachers, the teachers union, and everything on their agenda too! At face value that would tend to seem to be a conflict with simultaneous staunch support of the board and administration unless you fully understand the end game. Have you figured it out yet? Here is a hint: How can the teachers and teachers union possibly reward the parent of school age children who tirelessly champions everything and anything they want?

Thankfully the overwhelming majority of Naperville parents are guided by a strong moral compass and they see what has been happening for what it is and recognize how pathetic it is too.

Agreed in full.

I am curious if Thom Higgins is tired of defending this incompetent board? When will he admit he was wrong?

IMO it would be pretty hard for the Kane SA to say a screw up and no laws broken in the same breath. From a reasonable man test it would appear that several laws have been broken and even if the Kane SA does nothing the IL SA could step in to back up and prosecute the DCFS findings. The Kane SA has to fully consider their own political fallout if they don't fully prosecute. Let's remember that Kane County children were harmed by what happened and how it happened. I'd rate it at least 9 to 1 that charges will be forth coming.

But playing devils advocate and running with the thought the Kane SA does nothing... well that is the Hail Mary outcome the SD203 board is holding their breath, crossing their fingers, and hoping for. With their naive thinking that will vindicate them and validate what they did with hiring Bridges as being ok. Which means the SD 203 board will do absolutely nothing and Bridges will continue as super. That leaves the apathetic, short term memory, non-voting Naperville citizens with the only opportunity to extract their measure of revenge at the polling place. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. And you can be darn sure the SD 203 board is counting on that. Sadly, for Naperville citizens, even those who feel passionately about what happened, the Kane SA decision is the only decision that matters at this point.

Agreed.

What happens here in 203, though, if the Kane Cty DA ends the investigation and says it is a screw up, but no laws broken?

Do we just move on, or do we still demand accountability from the 203 school board?

This is out of SD 203 hands at this point for all practical purposes. Though we are in kind of a legal limbo for a short while.

The Kane County SA will determine what happens next and from how it sounds it's not looking good for several people at West Aurora.

The SD 203 school board would be well advised to get their act together and be prepared to take swift action and make an announcement immediately following the Kane SA. That means they better be prepared for either good or bad news.

Regardless, the school board still hasn't fully and adequately explained to our community how or why something this tainted, messy, and egregious could possibly escape their scrutiny during the employment process.

Considering how botched the hiring of the current and last superintendent were the school board should set a priority of establishing a community-wide task force to review the entire employment process, contract terms, education and experience requirements, etc. In other words use and follow the gold standard and recommended practice of the Illinois School Board.

The 203 school board is whistling in the dark and hoping parents forget about the child abuse issues.

Unfortunately, he parents cannot let it just lie there. The legal and moral issues, not to mention liability issues if it happens in 203, are enormous and must be addressed.

Right now Bridges is the 800 gorilla in the room, and the 203 school board is busy looking down at their laptops and net surfing, apparently so they can deny knowledge of the issue!

Wonder how the school board is feeling about todays article in Viewpoint. No doubt there will be more embarrassing moments to follow. Keep up the great job of reporting. The school board needs to be punished in some form for thier misgivings. We don't need that type of management or behavior in this town.

Thank you, Naperville Sun, for your editorial. Please keep the readers posted of developments, or more importantly, lack thereof.

Susan Crotty's quotes were unbelievable as usual, so we cannot really know what the board knew beforehand..

-1

It is looking like laws were broken!

Reading today's Sun article in Viewpoints, it is beginning to look like the assumption many of us had that no laws were broken outside those of stupidity and neglect no longer applies.

The DCFS items really do seem pretty condemning. Also, the Sun's statement on the schol board and parents is quite damning:

"What the District 203 Board doesn’t seem to be doing is taking this very seriously, which it should do even if, and it’s a big if, Kane County decides it does not have a prosecutable case against Bridges.

District 203 parents need to feel confidence that their children will be safe in class, and that if something does happen involving a student and a district employee that it will not be swept under the rug by administrators and then stonewalled by the board."

Here is the question: Parents, are you going to to sit on the sidelines and act as cheerleaders for the 203 school board, or are you going to make them accountable?

I read all of the posting and made several additional inquires. It is absolutely shocking that the school board made this choice. How can they possibly explain the hiring of Bridges even as an assistant superintendent? How can they explain giving him the most important position in this school district with such limited experience? Bridge teaching experience is limited as well? His stewardship as a principal in the Aurora School district was unremarkable, with the exception to failing to report an incident. This is inexcusable. The State Law requires a suspicious behavior to be report (State Statue -CHILDREN (325 ILCS 5/) Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act). Our board of education is culpable of Malfeasance. They should suffer the consequence of their actions. Extremely disappointed tax payer.

It woul help if the SUN keeps the story going and oes not let it fie.

How about some good old-fashioned civic action? How about a petition asking for Bridge's removal? Let's not forget the next school board elections, too. How about people communicating to the school board, perhaps via letters, their dissatisfaction with the Board's hiring practices and support of administrators over kids? Does character count in Naperville or not?

Interesting that part of our SD203 values is zero tolerance to what a minor child can and can not do and that those same values do not carry over to an equivalent level of tolerance in terms of what an adult can and can not do.

When you think about it we are actually holding children who are growing and learning to a higher standard than professional, highly educated and experienced adults. And that is just plain wrong.

So is the bottom-line that we are going to give Bridges a "pass" on not fully informing the 203 School Board of this mess in his initial interviews because Darlene Senger and others think he represents Naperville values and is a "good guy"?

Ae we going to give the insipid 203 School Board a pass on missing this through two interview processes for two different jobs over several months because we have good ACT scores?

In short, are we wiling to just accept all of this because the child sexual abuse happened to Aurora kids and not to ours?

What the heck has happened to the real Naperville values, people?

Anonymous wrote:

-1, Sorry, I've got to disagree with you about he vs. they thing.

I think you agree with me.

My point was there is not a nameless faceless THEY to be blamed. (as in "They" being "West Aurora High School" or "District 129")

There are a series of HEs to be blamed, as you and I both wrote.

This is a subtle point, but an important one.

-1

I am stunned that so many of you are blindly supporting Bidges and the school board on this issue.

I read your comments where you infer those speaking against Bridges and the school board are jumping to conclusions, don't have the truth or data, etc. yet I would submit that

A)the data we have so far is crystal clear as to the DCFS procedures and school district policy ---- both were broken as ANY suspicion gets reported, period!

B)when it comes to child abuse, ESPECIALLY in a public environment designed fornthe protection of the child and ESPECIALLY when the abuse comes at the hand of an allegedly trusted public employee (an analogy would be a cop that steals from citizens ia bribes), we should expect and demand that our employees always err on the side of caution.

How can you guys be lining up so quickly and blindly behind Bridges and the school board on this issue!

"Jaensch said he was satisfied that Bridges’ actions in handing the case in his duties as principal at West Aurora were correct." just posted on the Sun website after the meeting.

That and all the other quotes in the Sunday Sun from school board members leave me questioning their competence to adequately perform their elected responsibilities. Clearly not one of them understands the term misfeasance as relates to a school superintendent carrying out his official duties.

I'll definitely have to give Jaensch a vote of no confidence in his ability to lead the school board after that statement.

The only thing the school board should have been doing tonight was meeting in emergency executive session to address the continued employment status of the superintendent.

What will it take for the school board to realize the gravity of their error is compounded by their continued nonfeasance? Will they still defend him and their decision when and if the Kane County SA files charges against him?

Sadly the time for the school board to have cut bait has already passed. Now 203's hands are as dirty as West Aurora.

I attended the reception for Dan Bridges and his family this evening. There was easily 50 people who came out, including various City Council members, community leaders and politicians. Mr. Bridges made a few comments and was warmly received.

There were three public speakers at the following BOE meeting, a husband and wife and a woman. All three spoke regarding the 2013-2014 school calendar, stating their preference for a later starting date. They were politely received, as I consistently witness public speakers at BOE meetings. Board president Jaensch explained to them that as this was not on the agenda the board would not be discussing the issue and urged them to contact a board member personally if they wanted to discuss this further. There was a very brief discussion about where documents were available on the website regarding the calendar.

I'll have a recap of the rest of the meeting on the QE203.org website shortly.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

No real thinking? Interesting. Wrong. But interesting.

There are many shades of gray in this world, and that is where all the neat stuff happens. This is not one of them.

When it comes to protecting children from molestors, I will opt for following the law and black and white. That is why the policies are written as they are.

Report to DCFS
Report to your principal/superintendent that you reported to DCFS
Superintendent keeps a copy of the fact that the mandated reporters actually got the information that they are mandated reporters.

Nobody has to think once they are suspicious. Let the professionals at DCFS do the thinking.

Instead -- ignore law. Ignore policy. Ignore child safety.

I'm starting to think you are a defense lawyer for Bridges.

You might want to check my analysis of why the superintendent of West Aurora might not be culpable in this mess. I actually had to think about that. Of all things!

I also am fairly certain I did not ask for Bridges to be hanged. Not keep his job -- yes based on the information we have so far. Be mad at the board for seemingly not properly vetting a candidate? You betcha. They might change my mind at some point. They will have their chance.

Unlike the kids who were sexually abused by the teacher.

And that, in the end, is what this is about. I cannot imagine how furious I'd be right now at Bridges if I had a child abused by that teacher.

-1

I understand your point. I guess I'm saying that I would have half expected Penn State to bury it... it's about lots of money, etc. I would have fully expected the schools to do the right thing. I know it probably doesn't make sense to everyone, but that's my opinion.

Wow, stay away from the schools? Wow. The arrogance meter just hit the 10 mark. Agree with me or get out. Sounds like your style. Black and white. No gray, no practical thinking, just this, or that. Must be fun in your world. I suppose it's easy though, no real thinking, just put it in the correct basket and go. Damn everyone else.

I think the point is that he did have an obligation, as did the super, tom go to DCFS. I don't think folks are suggesting he should skip the super in the process.

However, since you appeared to dish on Paterno in the Penn State issue, you should at least try for consistency here. It seems you are saying it was not enough for Paterno to tell his two bosses, but it is enough for Bridges to tell his.

Sorry, but whatever applies, it applies to both as the scenarios look eerily similar.

"..., and I remind readers that he is precluded from making public statements due to the State’s Attorney’s investigation of the matter, which we should all welcome."

Gee Thom are you now Papa Dan's attorney? Freedom of Speech still rules despite what some small, narrow minds may think. Anyone can ask questions and Bridges can answer. There is no court ordered gag order in place and an investigation by the Kane County SA doesn't change anything in terms of the citizens of Naperville having a right to know what specifically happened in another school district and how our school district missed something as big as this when interviewing and extending an employment contract.

Speaking at the open forum at the BOE is a waste of time IF you expect either conversation, answers, or results of any kind.

Yes, it is fun and sometimes cathartic to speak openly to a group. However, all should realize that doing so is also a masochistic endeavor as it is virtually a soliloquy, not a two-sided conversation.

Over the years I have never heard the board members engage in conversation with the speaker during the open forum. I am not saying it hasn't happened, but I have seen enough, and spoken many times, to know my observation is valid. I will add that on many occasions the board members have been noted rolling their eyes, checking items on smartphones and laptops, and other actions that make it clear that listening to the speaker is not their number one priority.

There is one exception, which was told to me directly by two board members at the time: if a large group shows up (large was defined to me as at least 15-20 people)
To discuss thenexact same issue, and all sign up tp speak on the same issue, we will get theirnattention. I do not see that getting put together by Monday.

La Cuc, you believe breaking the law AND district policy is more important than potentially protecting children from a sexual predator because that's how things work?

Nobody gives a (darn) about what anyone wants here. The law is the law and the policy is the policy. Both appear to have been blatantly ignored by people entrusted to follow the law and policy. And if you cut him slack by believing that he thought nothing suspicious happened, then his judgment is in serious doubt.

But, like the principal who allowed Orland off the hook, you turn a blind eye to improper behavior. Stay away from the schools please.

-1

What if he is not welcome?

-1

Linus,

Once again, your arrogance prevails. I understand the policy and the law. I know this will be unpopular, but this is not how the real world works. You check with the boss first, not call DCFS. Nobody said that DCFS is "incorrect" and nobody said see if it ok with the boss. If I'm the Superintendent, I want a heads up. What' wrong with that?

Foget the debate, let's just hang the guy. The evidence is clear. You all know more than any school officials and any elected officials. As always, it's about the children. When, in fact, it's about a grade your kid got, a teacher you didnt like, or not getting into some AP class.

A few comments:

The reception Monday night is for the District to introduce Mr. Bridges to the community and to allow the community to welcome him. I hope people realize that it is not the appropriate forum to expect Mr. Bridges to answer questions, and I remind readers that he is precluded from making public statements due to the State’s Attorney’s investigation of the matter, which we should all welcome.

There will be a regularly scheduled board of education meeting following the reception starting at 7:30. One of the first items on the agenda for all BOE meetings is public comment. Anyone wanting to make public comments can take the opportunity to do so then.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

La Cuc,

"However, I assume that the first action is to check with the Superintendent. Makes sense to me."

Sorry La Cuc, your opinion conflicts with what is legally required.

This is exactly what DCFS does not want to happen because adults start putting THEIR priorities in front of the child.

The quote from DCFS that was in the Sun stated that if you have to consult with someone else about your suspicions then you have answered your own question... you need to report it.

Remember DCFS has established procedures that they follow to fairly and impartially investigate all of the parties involved. But it is DCFS's legal responsibility to decline to investigate an incident not the school board's or the school administration.

La Cuc wrote:

However, I assume that the first action is to check with the Superintendent. Makes sense to me.

I'd like to see that policy from the school district. That would be both illegal and laughable.

So you are making an assumption that DCFS is incorrect.

Here is the policy from D203

5:90 Abused and Neglected Child Reporting

Any District employee who suspects or receives knowledge that a student may be an abused or neglected child shall immediately report such a case to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on its Child Abuse Hotline 800/25-ABUSE or 217/524-2606. The employee shall also promptly notify the Superintendent or Building Principal that a report has been made. All District employees shall sign the Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status form provided by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) and the Superintendent or designee shall ensure that the signed forms are retained.

It appears that reporting is FIRST.

And from West Aurora:

Any District #129 school personnel or employee who suspects or receives knowledge that a student under the age of 18 and known to them in their professional or official capacity may be an abused or neglected child shall immediately report such case to the Department of Children and Family Services’ (DCFS) Child Abuse Hotline, 800-25-ABUSE or 217-524-2606. The employee shall also immediately notify his or her administrative supervisor, or the superintendent, that a report has been made. All District #129 school personnel or employees shall sign the “Acknowledgement of Mandated Reporter Status” form provided by the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The superintendent or designee shall ensure that the signed forms are retained.

In both cases a report to the higher ups that a report has been made. NOT to check with them to see if it is okay to file a report.

West Aurora further mandates that the following be contacted: "the appropriate law enforcement agency, the board of education, and the parent/guardian of the student."

I will allow someone else to pull up the state code.

-1

We DO know what has been published and what has been made available from the legal system.

Thus, we actually have quite a bit of info and more than enough to form the opinion that the 203 school board screwed the pooch. They clearly did not vet the candidate enough to make him superintendent, and he clearly was not open enough with them during the process. The comments and quotes in the SUN make this very evident.

The bottom line is we do know what has been said, and we have quite a few facts, not just emotion. You, on the other hand, are ignoring the available facts and clearly running on raw emotion at this point.

But, to your point ----- we do NOT "know" enough because our 203 school board is quite secretive, with way too many closed sessions, and has notched an open meeting for us where they share the interview questions and answers!

For all of those that have many questions for our new, highly paid superintendent, there is a reception for him this Tuesday, Sept. 4th from 5-6:30 P.M. at the District Administrative Center: 203 W. Hillside in Naperville. Let's see how someone with his lack of judgment answers questions.

-1,

Sorry, I've got to disagree with you about he vs. they thing.

La Kook usually has 2 or more wheels off the track, but in this aspect he is correct.

The janitor should have immediately reported the incident to DCFS.

The janitor had no obligation or requirement to talk to his union steward, his supervisor, or the principal. His sole responsibility was to immediately notify the DCFS hotline. Periord. He is a school employee and all school employees are required to be trained in their specific responsibilities under the law.

However, that does not get the union steward (assuming that person is also a school employee and a mandated reporter), supervisor, or principal off of the hook. In turn, as soon as they each were made aware of a SUSPICION of abuse they also came under a duty to report.

NONE OF THEM REPORTED. Under the law, if this was their first offense of failure to report they could be charged by the SA with a misdemeanor, or a class 4 felon if it was a repeat violation for any of them.

However, when abuse is allowed to continue in a failure to report situation the law provides that they each can also be charged with criminal abuse since a lack of action on their part allowed and enabled the abuse to continue.

We can speculate on why the janitor didn't do what he was supposed to do. However, what he ended up doing got at least 3 other people directly involved and probably a few more indirectly involved. Unfortunately, none of these people followed their own responsibility under the law and their own lack of action has dragged them into the middle of this incident.

If you feel strongly about this issue pick up the phone and call the Kane County States Attorneys office and demand a full investigation of everyone involved.

After that pick up the phone again and file a complaint with the Illinois State Board of Education. The Board of Education is charged with licensing school superintendents and disciplining them, up to and including revocation of their license, for various infractions including those as a Mandated Reporter.

I'm not providing cover. I just don't know all of the facts. And you people do? Come on man, you don't know what happened unless you were there. You dont know what was said. You don't know who told who what. And further, they don't have to share it with you. Why? Because most of you aren't qualified to determine what happened and what should happen next. I feel a lot of emotion here and not much fact.

Again, Minus, yes, Bridges should have reported it. However, I assume that the first action is to check with the Superintendent. Makes sense to me. I suppose in some ideal worlds, he goes right to DCFS and they have a parade for him. Doesn't work that way.

Lorraine, despite your horrible grammer, you think that there is enough to fire they guy? Based on what facts? Not your opinion. Maybe Michelle and you are the same people? Better writing, poor logic. Bad writing, worse logic.

La Cooka, you stir pot and sure do not know facts. All having care of children are mandated to report abuse, name of victim or not to DCFS or police.thank you Michelle for stating the truth from school board president down. All should be fired as played with child victim protecting those involved.

Oops! Sent before finishing!

Also note in today's article that the 203 school board was NOT aware of this issue until late August after Bridges found out the custodian was tellingnhis story to the news.

How in the heck could the 203 school board miss this little factoid? How could Bidges have not been up front and told them about it during his original interviews to come to our district?

Seriously, man ---- how can you possibly be providing cover and excuses on this one? This represents a major failure in fiduciary responsibility by the 203 school board in terms of basic hiring practice AND child safety.

Come on, man!

You are very lame to be offering blind support on this matter.

Simply read the articles in today's SUN ---- school employees are mandated by law to call DCFS if they SUSPECT a student has been physically or sexually abused.

Note the keywords " employee" (not superintendent)), DCFC (not superintendent), and "suspicion" (not proof).

Face it, he screwed the pooch! I don't know if he should lose a job or not. I am more concerned by the shortfall here shown by the 203 school board. They still owe the community an explanation regardless of whatbthey do with Bridges.

I just want to clarify my prior post (if it gets posted)

HE being all of them based on the "running away" comment.

If the superintendent got only the together-in-a-room-and-no-contact but not the running away, I could see how he and others might not report the incident.

But it seems as if it took Dan Bridges an extra day and an extra interview to get to the "no contact" story. This was denial on Bridges part (and many others).

A quick simple question:

What do you think Dan Bridge's (or anyone's) response would have been if the situation were reversed?

Giggling coming from a small side band room. A TEACHER opens the door, and the JANITOR runs away as the door is opened. The teacher does not recognize the student, and the student gets away as the teacher looks for the janitor. In all fairness, the janitor had his equipment in the room and that was part of his scheduled rounds that day.

Would there be the same reluctance to report and act from administration if the teacher *initially* says no contact was seen? I doubt it!

What if the teacher initially reported that the janitor had his hands on the student? Would there even be a second interview? I doubt it!
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How bad must the superintendent pool be that our last Superintendent (Mitrovich) got a Doctorate from an unaccredited university, and the newest one (Bridges) apparently flubbed the most important test of child safety he will ever face?

-1

La Cuc wrote:

As I said in a prior post, and I know the timing is sometimes off, yes, they should have reported it to DCFS.

Let it be clear that "they" is the wrong word to use.

HE should have reported the event.

HE being the janitor. Perhaps after Dan Bridges interviewed him, Dan Bridges should have re-educated the janitor of his mandatory reporting obligation.

HE being Dan Bridges after the initial janitor interview whereby the notes obtained and reported elsewhere by the press say the teacher had his "hands on her" and then he ran away.

HE (maybe) being the superintendent at the time. It is unclear what information was filtered by Dan Bridges to the superintendent. If it turns out that the second interview was used to give a softened report to the superintendent, then there is even more to be concerned about Dan Bridges. There is no reason Dan bridges should have waited to the second interview to report this to DCFS.

-1

Minus,

My understanding is that he did report this to the Superintendent. I have no idea what transpired next, and neither do most of us here. As I said in a prior post, and I know the timing is sometimes off, yes, they should have reported it to DCFS.

For all those angry people out there, run for school board. Get all of the information that parents are not privy to and make decisions. We elect these people to make decisions. They are not, and should not, check with you on every decision. Even who to hire for Superintendent.

Also, they do not have to follow procedures every time they hire someone. It's not a law. It's a guideline. Should they have followed the guideline? Maybe.

Ouch, that hurts. Especially from someone that can't put a sentence together and can't make a logical argument. None the less, his experience is/was not in question until you brought it up.

From the IASB website

http://www.iasb.com/issue7.cfm

To accommodate those eager for involvement and preclude unreasonable demands, the school board should establish procedures for ascertaining the views of the community in establishing qualifications and standards for the superintendency. There are many ways to seek these views, including surveys, committees, public hearings, and just generally listening to what people say they would like in a new superintendent. Newspapers and broadcast media can play a key role by encouraging interested people to speak up and publicizing different points of view as to what the district needs.

However, public discussion of what the district needs in a superintendent must come long before the pool of applicants is narrowed down to a few finalists. Identifying desired qualifications and characteristics should be an initial step, for this information plays an important part of the board's advertising to solicit candidates.

and this was done...When?

-1

Uh, if you actually followed the Freeh report you will find that Paterno, like our 203 Superintendant, DID report it.

In the 203 Superintendant's case, it appears he failed to report it to the obvious higher authority (DCS), while Paterno reported it to both his bosses.

I repeat ----- The only thing you really, really need to worry your pretty little head about is ensuring the children are protected from predators and not providing cover for the 203 School Board that appears to have either missed, or underestimated, this tragic event.

La Cuc,

Can you please review for the unknowledgable fools posting here who exactly is listed as a mandatory reporter -- a person or a district? Was Paterno a mandatory reporter (*not* excusing Paterno...I just do not know)?

And can you review who has the authority to investigate a possible sexual abuse in Illinois? A principal, a school district or DCFS?

As far as I can read the report, the first interview with the janitor said the teacher had his hands on the student. I'd really like to know what questions -- exactly -- Dan Bridges asked about the contact during the second interview -- a day later when he already should have reported the event? It is very easy to ask questions which rule out sexual contact, but there still might be contact which is not allowed.

Sorry, Dan Bridges dropped this. He was presented with a chance to do the right thing and save further abuse. He failed. In life, we are not always sure when that opportunity will arise. I assume he was trained and educated on what to do, and he screwed up when the chance presented itself.

Not the person I'd want as Superintendent for my children.

La Cuc ... If the teacher was literally caught with his pants down, but the student could not be identified, would that be okay not to call DCFS?

-1

La Cucaracha you are a little coachroach you must be in the there with rest of the bugs. Stink Bug that is. As to Bridges not being fire. He should be. To start with he has no experience as a superintendent. He step down from West Aurora a little over one year ago as a me as a principal of a high school. He came over to Naperville as the Assistant Superintendent. The board of education and the Naperville School District 203 failed to investigate his background. It is well documented that he failed the MORAL test. NO ONE IN HIS POSITION SHOULD JUST PASS THE BUCK. He is currently still under investigation by the Kane County authorities. Just the idea of having him associated with our kids, in light of how he handle the previous should be a RED FLAG. NOT TO HIRE. We here in Naperville have Associate Superintendent that are more capable than DAN BRIDGES. The BOARD HAS FAILED THIS COMMUNITIES 2 TIME IN A ROW, THE PREVIOUS INCOMPETITENT, who was only interested in the money and the kids or tax payers of this community. Know we have a spineless cowarded and a disfunctional board of directors that needs to be suited.

Great job of hiring, District 203 School Board! Parents were informed of the choice by the School Board of Dan Bridges, our Superintendent. I believe the words they used were that after an extensive search for a new superintendent that they realized that what they were looking for was right in front of them... is a man of high moral and ethical standards with a strong belief in transparency. $225,000 a year for this? The School Board needs to wake up and remember that they are elected by the taxpayers and entrusted with the responsibility of making sure the standards of excellence for the students are also the standards of the administrators.

It is not any school's right to determine if abuse occurred but as mandated reporters, it is a legal responsibility to report such a matter to the proper authorities for their investigation. Wow, what great judgment on the part of Dan Bridges!

Did Dan Bridges reveal this matter to the school board when he was interviewed since he values transparency so much? If so, shame on the school board. The President of the school board needs to resign and the others...you have lost our trust. Shame on you. If Dan Bridges did not reveal this matter to the school board before being hired, shame on him. Sadly, adults have seem to forgotten that they are here for children- adults that should base every decision on what is best for the children, not what is best for the adults. How about a town hall meeting where parents are informed of the meeting, why it is occuring, and with Dan Bridges and members of the school board present? If everything is on the up and up, what could they be afraid of. Let's have some transparency, not just make it a talking point.

Unlike Paterno, he reported and investigated the indident. My understanding from the report is that they did not have an ID on the girl. So, who are they to protect? They failed to report to DCFS. That's on the District. Bridges should not be fired for that.

BTW, what is DuPage city? Are you even from here?

Could you explain for the rest of us why this is so different than the Penn State situation? It seems that there are at least 3 young women in DuPage Cty that would disagree with you.

It seems to me that it is a fool's errand to try and split hairs when it comes to sexual child abuse.

You make no sense. You are either stirring the pot or not very smart.

I am glad you are more of an expert on this than DCFS.

The version of Mr. Bridges is just as despicable with the old information. He had a chance to do something right. He didn't.

Apparently the janitor recently voluntarily retired.

I am pretty shocked that there is not more of a revolt here from actual parents of children on the 203 system.

Has this been brought up at PTA mtgs? Will it appear at the next School Board mtg?

I doubt it as the parents are too comfortable in their high ACT scores and wont of a State football champion.


A couple of comments after perusing this thread.

Let's see....... if I heard and read correctly, underage children were fondled by adults who were in a position of protection and supervision. A janitor reports it to the proper adults, who perform their own "investigation" and decide to NOT include appropriate authorities, Later, the same adult AGAIN has inappropriate relations with an under age child. This time, someone besides a janitor reports it, and all hell breaks loose.

UR right -- the comparisons of this to the Penn State situation are ludicrous, right? Right? No way, right?

I mean, this is way, way different, right? Penn Starte did not involve a janitor, right?

Actually, YOU should be ashamed of yourselves and your asinine comments for trying to delineate betweenthe two events.

The only thing you really, really need to worry your pretty little head about is ensuring the children are protected from predators and not providing cover for the 203 School Board that appears to have either missed, or underestimated, this tragic event.

It is unexceptable. We can not have a person in charge who had little disregard for the children in his charge. The last thing we need here in Naperville 203 is another spineless man. Who's only interest is self serving. His contract should be terminated and the board members needs to resign. They continue to do a poor job. Best thing the community can do is a class action suit against the board of education for conitnue mismanagement.

DCFS says there was a screw up per the Daily Herald article today. Not linked but found via a search of "DCFS Bridges". But I suppose they do not have as much knowledge about child sexual abuse cases than the school board president.

Jaensch's quote:

“My understanding is he did his job to the best of his ability by running the investigation and reporting to his superintendent,” Jaensch said. “I'm actually very pleased with how Dan handled the entire situation.”

Mr. Jaensch. Step down right now. If you are still reading this, then you are taking too long.

His job was NOT to run an investigation. His job was to report. You are "pleased"!?!?!? If this is the best of his ability, I'd hate to see him when he is not at his best.

insane.

Read between the lines. Bridges interviewed the janitor. Thought about it and could not believe it. He brought the janitor back and grilled him about precise contact, thus justifying (to his own brain) his delay earlier in the day of not reporting it. He created a situation whereby his brain denied the fact that this janitor sitting in front of him is telling him crucial life-changing information. He reports to others that there was no contact .

I'd be really interested in what was reported by Bridges -- was it that there was no contact or that the janitor did not see contact. There is a massive difference in the wording right there.

Did he remind the janitor that the janitor was a mandatory reporter and if the janitor did not like what the school, did he could still report it? NO?? Failing to do so is a failure of leadership.

Complete and utter crap and dangerous behavior.

Made even worse by Mr. Jaensch's response -- which completely goes against what DCFS is saying.

-1

A couple of comments after perusing this thread.

The comparisons of this to the Penn State situation are ludicrous. There are probably ten to twenty young men somewhere in Pennsylvania who might disagree with you. You should be ashamed of yourselves and your asinine comments.

If I read the accounts in the newspapers and on the television correctly, the version of the story given by the janitor two years ago differs substantially from his story to the news people recently.

Considering how many times the SD 203 school board has botched the vetting and hiring of a superintendent I think we have finally reached the point where we need to demand an end to all of the closed door superintendent search and recruitment practices of the past. The public has a right to know what is going on in terms of who are the candidates, what are their credentials, and what is their past history long before an employment contract gets inked.

And speaking of employment contracts the public also has a right to know what kind of language and terms are included in order to legally terminate such a contract when something like this turns up after the fact.

We as voters put a lot of trust and faith in the people we elect to represent us to do what is right and smart at all times. I can not believe once again the SD203 school board has let us down. This is just another unbelievable black mark on the district.

This Guy is Evil. He should not be allowed anywhere near schoolchildren. D203 needs to wake up.

I think that whoever posted something about the Bridges being fired immediately was a rush to judgement. That said, I agree that the SB should explain further.

Sorry, Kane County State's Attorney.

So, is your bar simply one of strict legality?

Are you satisfied as long as the new guy is deemed to have broken no laws? Do you have any concerns over the morality and ethics involved? The general concept of child safety? If not, does that mean you also think leaders at the schools and districts where gun violence occurred are "okay" and no changes need be made or questions asked?

Just Asking :)

Funny, but I see no rush to judgement with the exception of your (Thom's) rush to provide cover based on speculation and conjecture!

Though I'm sure you have suspicions and beliefs --- that's cute and all that. I will for now go with the established facts as reported by both CBS and the SUN. Children were hurt, an incident from a year earlier was treated cavalierly, and we now have a situation.

The 203 school board OWES the district voters and parents an explanation.

They OWE us an accountability sequence where they explain to us IN DETAIL that this was all covered twice: First when they hired him, and Second, when they promoted him to Superintendent.

The 203 school board OWES us a detailed outline of the specific questions they asked at these two events and the answers they received that put them at such "ease" over this situation.

Quite frankly, at this point in time given the benefit of hindsight, the 203 school board appears to have seriously stumbled!

Thom,

Once again we are doubled over with laughter about your complete and total lack of understanding of the situation and the facts. Maybe you could enlighten us with exactly how the Will County SA would have any jurisdiction in this matter? You might do better to engage your brain before hitting the keyboard next time.

There has been no rush to judgment. There is no conflicting information. DCFS took a long time investigating and evaluating exactly what did and did not happen.

These people were "designated reporters" under the law. Anyone who is a "designated reporter" has a duty under the law to take very specific actions when they receive any kind of notice of abuse, including suspected abuse. And all school personnel receive repeated training about their responsibilities under the law so there is no argument that they were not aware of their legal duty.

Instead of following their duty as a "designated reporter" and taking the actions called for by law they instead took it upon themselves to conduct their own investigation and sadly came to the wrong conclusion about what they needed to do. It is also significant to point out that the law does not allow any organization, business, or unit of government to conduct their own investigation in lieu of immediately reporting.

Bad choice, bad decision, and they have to accept their full, personal responsibility that they simply failed to do their duty. They let down the community, they let down the school district, they let down the parents, and most importantly they let down the students. Worse yet they directly enabled a now convicted predator to continue to abuse additional children because of what they did (their own investigation) and what they failed (contact DCFS) to do.

We can never entrust the safety of thousands of school children to anyone who has already demonstrated their lack of willingness to fully perform their professional duty under the law.

Careers, promotions, and school district politics can never, ever be allowed to be a higher priority than the safety of children entrusted to the care of school district personnel.

Interesting... Why would the *Will* County States Attorney be called in?

Open questions to Dan Bridges which should be answered to the public

What would you have done differently now that you know the janitor's report was the tip of the abuse iceberg?

What did you learn from this?

My feeling is that both the janitor and Dan Bridges are now giving statements which have been severely filtered to make them look like the good guy. (cf: Rashomon)

-1

It's unfortunate that people here in the blog are rushing to judgment on the basis of the very limited and conflicting information contained in a news report. My understanding is that the Will County States Attorney has been called in, and I have every belief that, in the end, we will have a clear understanding of this unfortunate event. I suspect Mr. Bridges fully apprised the board of this matter previously, and knowing far, far more than we do, found him to have acted properly in the matter.

The tragedy here is it’s not only the young women that were hurt, but also their families, and to a lesser degree, all the teachers and students at the school who will now be just a little more on guard and less comfortable with each other after this.

Thom Higgins

QE203.org

Hey, I can only go by what I read in the SUN and by what I heard from him when he was interviewed for the CBS news story last week.

Not much supposition needed from my opinion ---- it happened on his watch, by his own admission he did not have "absolutely positively" proof (ie no video, apparently did not want to believe the janitor over a teacher)), it seems he kept in "in house" and never contacted DCS, and the guynwent and did it again to two more girls. It certainly seems to me that when it comes to young girls and old guys, you should error a little on the side of the child.

Any questions?

Does anyone know the actual facts here? Sounds like a lot of supposition to me.

Naperville Sun,

How could the school board NOT have known this was hanging over his head or did they just do another really, really bad job of vetting superintendent candidates?

Was this candidate recommended by a head hunter and was this the same head hunter that gave us our last superintendent who didn't have a real doctor's degree?

You know what irritates me? The school board and the administration has a bunch of zero tolerance policies on hot button topics of their chosing. If one of our kids makes an adolescent mistake and violates one of these zero tolerance policies they risk having an arrest record and possibly a criminal record that will hang over them for the rest of their life.

We need to demand the same kind of zero tolerance policy on child abuse in terms of ALL school district employees. It does not matter when or where it happened, but if you were involved and failed to do the right thing you simply can no longer be employed in our school district.

The value and safety of each and every one of our children is too precious to compromise on anything less than zero tolerance... union contracts, employement contracts be damned... our children come first!

The school board should have already had an emergency board meeting over this matter and he should have already been sacked. The fact that he has not been sacked only puts the competence and priorities of the entire school board under a magnifying glass.

To the entire Naperville school board.... we do not need or want anyone else with the same broken moral compas as Pen State to have any kind of hand in making similar decisions or judgement calls in Naperville and most especially not when they already have an established track record of having failed to do what is right and proper.

SUN,

Is the paper going to pursue this and ask questions, or are we alone on this one (again!)?

Now it is clear why his first order of business was to establish a tip line.

On top of the student abuse issue, is no one concerned that his experience is based on multiple years in West Aurora? Look at the test scores while he was principal at the high school. How is this on par with the quality of education people are used to in 203?

So far our insipid Board is awfully quiet on this issue.

I am going t lighten my stance a small amount, and at the same time expand the net of culpability of the hiring. What was Dan Bridges' answer to the following question when he was interviewed for the Superintendent spot: "What did you learn from the incident at West Aurora where the band teacher was sentenced to 12 years in jail for sex with his students?" If this was not asked, whomever was doing the interview completely failed. He should have to answer this question at each and every interview the rest of his life. Maybe he gives a good answer. Maybe he doesn't. -1

http://napervillesun.suntimes.com/news/14685747-418/dcfs-w-aurora-should-have-re ported-orland-incident.html And to think we were concerning ourselves before about Dr. Mitrovich's credentials? Did the board even know about this? This should be interesting at the next School Board election having the board members explain why this was not important information in the hiring process. Sounds like a good QE203 question if that "group" is, in fact, a D203 watchdog. The board rebuked Weeks for loose lips. Bridges had much more dangerous tight lips. Disgusting. This quote from the story is complete crap. The only information the district had at the time was that Mr. Orland was alone in a room with a student, in a place in the building that was frequented by both students and staff, and that no physical contact, inappropriate or otherwise, occurred. Whoa...how did they know no physical contact occurred? Just because the person who saw suspicious activity and reported it to Mr. Bridges (who subsequently failed to act) did not see the physical contact does not mean it did not happen. Maybe an appropriate investigation by teh correct authorities would have found otherwise. But no. More children were harmed. -1

I am very concerned by it. This is NO different than what happened at Penn State. The whole situation was handled unbelievably dumb. The guy should be fired from 203.

Fire Dan Bridges today. Don't even think twice about it. Most teachers or administrators will likely only face receiving a report of abuse once in their entire career. We need to know that everyone employed in our school district will do the right thing the first time. This is not the time or place for a second chance or a do over. The girls who were abused after the first report could have been saved from their abuse and they don't get a second chance or a do over. The safety of our children in Naperville is too important to white wash this incident just because it happened somewhere else. We do not need to employ someone with a demonstrated track record of having failed to act 100% in the interest of the child, which was his duty.

I just read today's SUN ---- I am quite concerned about the article concerning the new 203 Superintendant and his involvement in the teacher/child incident at WAHS. Per the article, it certainly seems that the best that can be said is that his actions were lackadaisical, and the worst that they were no better than those of the Penn State administration.

Seriously, nobody is concerned about the new Superintendant in 203 and the issue reported last night on CBS concerning the lax response to the "improper relationship of a teacher and a student"? No one?

Turned a blind eye to the abuse of a student, allowing further abuse to another child. Penn State? No...West Aurora HS. And who was the authority in charge at the time? Welcome to D203!!!

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