Local Editorials

Our View: Teacher should not have been back in class

Crystal Lake Central's head coach Matt Fralick explains to the offense a new formation during practice at Crystal Lake Central High School on Friday, August 17, 2012.
Crystal Lake Central's head coach Matt Fralick explains to the offense a new formation during practice at Crystal Lake Central High School on Friday, August 17, 2012.

It’s not entirely clear when District 155 officials knew the particulars of the allegations against Crystal Lake Central teacher Matt Fralick, but it certainly seems they knew something about it many months ago.

Fralick, 48, of Lake in the Hills, was charged in February with grooming. Police said he was encouraging an underage girl to engage in sexual behavior online in April. Police were aware of the particulars. District officials knew or should have have known as well.

In a statement after Fralick’s arrest last month, District 155 Communications Director Shannon Podzimek said “we have no reason to suspect that any student or staff member in the district has been in any danger at any time.”

Their actions suggest otherwise. In the wake of Fralick’s arrest, district officials have declined to comment on how they handled the situation, or say when Fralick had been removed from class.

Emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act show that Fralick was on leave for almost two weeks in August. Fralick also resigned as the girls basketball coach in the middle of summer camp in June, which, if it’s unrelated to the allegations, it is certainly coincidental.

In light of the suspicion, allowing Fralick back into a classroom where he taught teens about sexuality and birth control, or into a driver’s education car with students seems to be the wrong choice.

However, that’s what happened. Fralick continued to teach health and driver’s ed at Central for almost four months, until he was placed on leave again in December.

The public has legitimate concerns and questions about the way this was handled by administrators.

Teachers here have taken advantage of students before; it is a major breach of trust that can have serious consequences for a school and a community.

We would like to hear an explanation from school officials of why Fralick was given such access to students last fall. If they could make no other decision because of the union contract, then the public will demand a change to that contract. If they didn’t believe the allegations against Fralick at the time, tell us why.

There should be accountability for a decision that, from what the public now knows, seems wrong.

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