Crime & Courts

D-155 to consider firing teacher accused of grooming teen girl online

Matt Fralick is accused of grooming teen girl

Community High School District 155 will discuss at a district board meeting Thursday whether to fire a teacher accused of grooming a teen girl online for sex.

District 155 sent out a special board meeting agenda for 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Among the agenda items was an executive session to discuss potentially dismissing a tenured teacher and suspending him or her without pay, pending a formal dismissal hearing.

A letter sent directly to Crystal Lake Central High School parents stated that the district has completed its internal investigation after Matt Fralick’s Feb. 1 arrest, and the administration will make a recommendation to the district board to dismiss Fralick for misconduct at a special board meeting Thursday.

“Our administration has followed due process, worked in conjunction with the McHenry Police Department based on the guidance of our attorneys, and made decisions grounded in facts and legally sound action. D-155 continues to cooperate with the McHenry Police Department,” the letter stated. “As we have said previously, the district has no information indicating misconduct by Fralick involving any D-155 students or staff members. Our first priority is always to ensure our students are safe.”

Fralick, 48, has been criminally investigated regarding claims that he groomed a teenage girl online for sex. He was placed on paid administrative leave for about two weeks in August, but returned to the classroom after the district’s human resources department couldn’t substantiate the allegations, district communications show. Fralick was again placed on leave in December, however, and hasn’t returned to teaching since.

He was arrested at the McHenry Police Department on Feb. 1 on a felony grooming charge. If Fralick is convicted on the charge, he will be required to repay the school for the compensation he received while on paid leave, according to District 155 policy.

Fralick worked from 2010 to 2014 as the head football coach at Crystal Lake Central. He also formerly acted as the assistant coach for the football, girls basketball and boys golf teams.

According to an email from the school’s athletic director, Fralick resigned as assistant girls basketball coach on the morning of June 13, which was in the middle of the school’s June 4 to 28 varsity girls basketball camp.

The physical education, driver’s education and health teacher was earning $102,026 in base salary with $4,807 in retirement enhancements and $15,350 in other benefits from the district, according to the district’s salary and benefits report dated Aug. 22.

“If a professional employee is suspended with pay, either voluntarily or involuntarily, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation or prosecution, and the employee is later dismissed as a result of his or her criminal conviction, the employee must repay to the district all compensation and the value of all benefits received by him or her during the suspension,” the policy states. “The superintendent will notify the employee of this requirement when the employee is suspended.”

Fralick is accused of making sexual comments to a 15-year-old girl in an age-restricted chat room for teens in April.

Barrington High School Principal Steve McWilliams sent police an email April 16 that he had received earlier in the day from a concerned juvenile. The girl claimed that someone purporting to be a teacher at the school had made sexual advances toward her in an online chat room reserved for teens, according to the email.

The girl also claimed that Fralick tried several times to meet with her and said that he often flirted with his students, according to the police report.

Weeks later, on May 3, Barrington police contacted Prairie Ridge High School resource officer Delmar Dade to confirm that Fralick was a teacher in District 155, documents show. Once Dade confirmed that Fralick was a teacher, Barrington police explained the details of the allegations “for notification to the school district, given the nature of the alleged offense and the subject’s continued contact with minor children,” the report stated.

District 155 Director of Communications Shannon Podzimek wrote a letter Tuesday in response to a Northwest Herald Freedom of Information Act Request. In it, she said police didn’t contact the district about Fralick until Aug. 15.

“It is important to note that when the District received the enclosed emails on May 4, 2018, it did not receive the name or address of Matt Fralick, and contrary to what is suggested in the Barrington Police Department’s May 3, 2018, report, no law enforcement official ever contacted any District employee or agency concerning the enclosed chat conversations or concerning any investigation of Matt Fralick until August 15, 2018,” the letter read.

After Tuesday night’s district board meeting, Podzimek stood firm that the district was not notified by law enforcement until Aug. 15.

Podzimek said she had no comment about when the district was informed about the situation.

Communication between District 155 staff members showed that Fralick was placed on paid leave twice before school officials notified parents and staff in a late-night email sent hours after the teacher turned himself in to police.

Fralick is scheduled to appear in court March 29.

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