by Susan Oâ€™Neill
The Kaneland School Board on Thursday voted to accept the resignation of Kaneland High School coach and teacher Dennis Hansen. The vote was 5-1 in favor of both approving the separation agreement and of accepting Hansenâ€™s resignation.
The dissenting vote was School Board member Deborah Grant, who said her vote was â€œin light of recent e-mails that the district has received and in lieu of additional information that may come forth.â€
Hansen had been suspended from his coaching duties on May 7 and from his teaching responsibilities on May 11. The suspensions and a subsequent investigation were based on allegations made by parents, current students and graduates regarding inappropriate behavior toward students.
The six- to eight-week investigation conducted by Kane County Sheriffâ€™s Police Resource Officer Paul Warren and school officials on behalf of the district uncovered allegations in both the teaching and coaching realm and involved about a dozen current students and recent graduates during the past couple of years, as well as several graduates who had been students in 2001.
According to school officials, the district was not made aware of the 2001 behaviors until the recent investigation, and no information was brought forth from the years in between the two timeframes. Attorney Maureen Lemon, representing the district, said the initial allegations were brought to the resource officer.
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jeff Schuler said that none of the behavior rose to the level of requiring notification to the Department of Children and Family Services, and no laws were broken. Lemon said the investigation also looked into his previous employment in Coal City schools and found no connection with the investigation at Kaneland.
Hansen has been with the district for 12 years as a physical education and driverâ€™s education teacher, and more recently as a coach of the varsity girlâ€™s softball and boyâ€™s basketball teams.
The separation agreement specifies salary and health benefits payments to Hansen, per the teacherâ€™s contract, through Aug. 31, 2009, and includes an agreement that neither party shall litigate against the other. It also spells out the wording for any references given to future prospective employers in writing. The reference only identifies his dates of employment and that he resigned.
Although the employment reference wording is factual and neutral, School District Superintendent Charlie McCormick explained that, for those in the education industry, that wording would be considered a red flag.
McCormick said the district decided to accept the agreement offered by Hansen in lieu of further investigation and potential termination of his employment for three reasons. First, any additional action could be appealed and overturned; second, it would involve uncomfortable situations for the students, who would be subjected to cross-examination; and three, Hansenâ€™s resignation was the ultimate outcome the board wanted.
The investigation also brought to light a whole range of policies, procedures, climate and culture that will need to be addressed with teachers, students and parents, McCormick said.
â€œThe current technology has outstripped our ethics,â€ he said.
For example, coaches typically have their studentsâ€™ phone numbers listed in their cell phones and will use them to text students to notify them of a game cancellation.
Sugar Grove resident and KHS graduate Jennifer Amery, who is the parent of an 8-year-old, said she was not happy with the way the situation was handled. She said that Kaneland could just be passing on its problem to another school.
â€œHow about a big red check on his resume?â€ she asked.
See the June 11 edition of the Elburn Herald for additional reporting.