A former Rich Township High School District 227 administrator has filed a lawsuit, alleging that she was fired in retaliation for reporting an alleged sexual assault against a girl by a relative of the superintendent.
"As an administrator, it's my duty to put children first," said Adrienne Lacour, who was fired last year, on Tuesday.
Lacour is a veteran educator who served as associate principal for curriculum and instruction at Rich South High School for three years. She said she received excellent evaluations prior to her firing.
According to the court filing, during a March 13 orientation meeting with a 16-year-old female student who was transferring to Rich South High School from Rich Central High School. The teen made an outcry to Lacour about the physical abuse and harassment she'd suffered at the hands of a fellow student.
"There was an attempted cover up and Adrienne did what she was supposed," said Dan Herbert, Lacour's attorney.
The unnamed girl said her abuser was a 17-year-old boy she'd once dated, adding that school officials failed to do anything about it because he is related to the superintendent. Lacour then reached out to the superintendent.
"He then got go very irate with me and said I already know and walked out of the room," Lacour said.
Lacour, who is a mandated reporter by law, says she immediately called authorities, including the police, a district board member and her principal who in turn contacted the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS).
Two months later, at a board meeting, the superintendent recommended she be replaced.
School Superintendent Johnnie Thomas could not be reached Tuesday for comment.
Although Lacour found another job, she says the experience has changed the way she thinks about education.
"I felt like I was definitely mistreated as a person that did what was right by children," she said.
Rich Township School District 227 released a statement Tuesday evening:
In October 2017, the Rich Township High School District 227 Board of Education approved a restructuring plan that required all district administrators to reapply for their positions. The district used a sound process in conducting interviews and hiring applicants for these leadership roles.
One former administrator who was not selected during this re-application process-and who received a notice of non-renewal for the 2018-19 school year in February 2018-has now filed a lawsuit against the school district. She claims the district retaliated against her for reporting, in March 2018, alleged harassment on the part of a student who is a relative of Superintendent Dr. Johnnie Thomas.
However, the alleged incident had already been investigated, following school district protocol, in December 2017. At that time, a law enforcement officer spoke with the students involved and their parents, and no charges were filed.
The school board is confident that all proper processes and procedures were followed throughout this process. The board has retained legal counsel and will fight the allegations. In doing so, we aim to protect the students, families and taxpayers of our school district.
Lawsuit: Administrator fired after reporting alleged sexual assault by superintendent's relative