An employee of the Illinois School for the Deaf has been suspended due to allegations of sexually harassing fellow employees.
I.S.D. Superintendent Julee Nist sent a letter to parents and student guardians informing them of the suspension, stating that an employee was placed on paid administrative leave due to allegations of “inappropriate communication and behavior” with fellow employees.
The employee placed on leave was not named in the letter, and it only references fellow employees being subjected to the harassment, and does not mention any allegations of the reported harassment being aimed at students.
Nist went on to state in the letter that the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services is “conducting a full review of the employee’s interactions with staff and students.”
Nist’s letter said: “Providing a safe, harassment-free environment for our students and staff to learn and work in is of the utmost priority and we will continue to ensure that is the case. In the last year, ISD has updated sexual-harassment reporting policies and increased staff training and student awareness to make sure everyone understands what to do if someone behaves inappropriately.”
The School for the Deaf serves about 200 deaf and hard-of-hearing students in pre-kindergarten through high school grades, with approximately 50% of students living on campus during the school year, with the remainder commuting to the school for daily classes.
According to a report in the State Journal Register, approximately 50 employees work at the Illinois School for the Deaf.
The report also stated that state data analyzed by the Better Government Association indicated that the median annual salary among ISD workers in 2017 was at least $84,800, with 20 teachers earning $85,000 or more.
This comes as 53 year old Charles Hicks Jr. continues to be on paid administrative leave since March of 2018, for alleged sexual contact with one or more ISD students. Hicks was investigated by the Illinois State Police last year on the allegations.
To date, Hicks has not been charged with any criminal action, nor has he been taken of off paid leave and been allowed to return to work.