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District 128 officials reassure parents after teacher’s firing

Libertyville High School bdirector Jeff Daeschler. | Special Sun-Times Media

Libertyville High School band director Jeff Daeschler. | Special to Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 18, 2013 1:19AM

LIBERTYVILLE — A day after Libertyville High School Band Director Jeff Daeschler was fired for having an inappropriate physical relationship with a female student, school officials held a meeting for parents of music students to offer reassurances and answer questions.

Approximately 30 parents and a few students attended the meeting at the high school Tuesday night.

District 128 Superintendent Prentiss Lea revealed for the first time the district’s investigation began with a Nov. 24 e-mail. Daeschler was removed from his teaching duties that afternoon and ultimately fired Jan. 14. The decision of the school board was unanimous, Lea said.

Lea repeatedly stated that this was a difficult situation and he understood the concern and frustration students and parents would have.

“The No. 1 priority we have is to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff,” he said.

Lea stressed the privacy of the former student involved was paramount and that Daeschler’s privacy was also at issue. He explained that providing the teacher all the protections he was entitled to was the reason parents couldn’t be notified of the matter earlier.

“I know the timing of this is bad,” Lea said, referring to the students being in finals week. “When we get information, we act on it.”

A letter about the situation was sent to parents via their students on Tuesday. The same day, music students received a visit from Principal Marina Scott and Fine Arts Supervisor Dustin Helvie toward the end of their class periods. Several parents questioned the hastiness of the timing.

The concern was that support for students wasn’t provided when they were notified of Daeschler’s dismissal.

Several parents said that their kids were fond of Daeschler and were devastated by both his departure and the circumstances surrounding it.

Lea said the district will provide whatever emotional support the students need and encouraged parents to talk to their kids about it.

Some parents said the former band leader texted students from his personal cellphone and that students visited his home.

Lea said the District 128 policy governing communication between teachers and students has been locally and nationally adopted by other districts. The policy is extremely stringent, he said, and the type of communication Daeschler was engaging in is not allowed.

“If it isn’t reported to the school by the parents, though, we have no way to know it’s happening,” Lea said. “This isn’t a failure of the policy, because the policy can only do so much.”

The Libertyville Police Department’s school resource officer, Bob Uliks, said no criminal charges have been filed in the case because nothing occurred while the female student was a minor.

In response to a question from a parent, Lea said that there was no evidence that any other students were involved.

Helvie assured parents that all band and music activities would go on as planned. He announced that retired teacher Don Shupe would temporarily be coming back, beginning Feb. 4.

Shupe conducted the Libertyville High band for 36 years before retiring in 2010.

Lea said all the parents’ comments were appreciated and that this would be an ongoing process.

“I’m touched and moved by the feedback tonight,” he said. “We will work with you on this.”

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