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Editorial: Never mind chain of command

Published: Saturday, July 26, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

After her bosses confronted her, former Grant Community High School teacher Amber Kraus wasted no time last year in admitting that she had an inappropriate relationship with a student.

Kraus, who received 30 months of probation last month after pleading guilty to aggravated sexual abuse, tried to put the best light on what she did.

"Nothing ever happened while at school – it was only at my apartment," Kraus wrote in a statement. "I believe we behaved professionally while at school and did not give any indication that something was happening outside of school."

That makes no difference. If she had taken her student to Siberia and pursued a sexual relationship, she would have been just as guilty. The point is, she broke the public trust. Parents don't send their children to school so that they can become teachers' sexual prey.

In the case of Fox Lake's Grant, the principal immediately told the superintendent about Kraus after getting word from a parent. The administrators then reported the issue to the Department of Children and Family Services. Under state law, school personnel are considered "mandated reporters," meaning they must inform DCFS when they believe a child is being harmed physically, sexually or through neglect.

In Illinois, mandated reporters cannot inform their bosses and call it a day. They must see to it that DCFS is informed, never mind the chain of command. At Penn State, a janitor reported seeing assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky abusing a child in the shower and reported it to his supervisor. It went nowhere. Coach Joe Paterno referred a similar report to superiors. No one called authorities.

In Fox Lake, administrators followed the law. As a result, a former teacher, now a registered sex offender, will never return to the classroom.

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