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College won't reinstate teacher who was wrongly accused of crime
By Russell Lissau | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 7/25/2008 12:30 PM | Updated: 7/25/2008 4:05 PM

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A former College of Lake County instructor who was falsely accused of sexually assaulting a student will not be reinstated, school officials confirmed Friday.

During a closed-door meeting this week, the school board opted not to reverse its March ruling to end the teacher's employment at the Grayslake-based college.

The decision not to reinstate the teacher, who has not been publicly identified, was unrelated to the false allegations against him or to his job performance, CLC officials said.

CLC spokeswoman Evelyn Schiele refused to elaborate, other than to say the board took the matter "very seriously."

When reached by phone, the former instructor declined to comment.

Student Antionette Taylor, 38, was arrested in May and charged with one felony county of making a false police report. Taylor, of 309 Glenwood Drive, Round Lake, had told CLC police she'd been sexually assaulted earlier this year by the teacher, authorities said.

The case later was turned over to Grayslake police.

Evidence uncovered during the investigation contradicted her story, however, police said. When questioned by police, Taylor admitted making up the story about the assault, a department spokesman said.

The teacher never was charged in the case.

"After an extensive investigation, the board has determined that there is no credible evidence that the faculty member ... engaged in any wrongdoing toward the student," Interim CLC Vice President for Educational Affairs Rich Haney wrote in an e-mail to the full faculty Wednesday. "The college regrets that the faculty member has had to confront and refute these untrue charges by the student."

Taylor did not finish the spring semester and is not currently enrolled at CLC, Schiele said.

Despite the teacher's innocence in the matter, he won't be asked back to CLC.

The school board met behind closed doors Tuesday to review the case, and it opted to let the teacher's dismissal stand, Schiele said.

It actually was a matter of not offering the teacher, who had been at the school three years, a tenured position, Schiele said. Decisions about tenure "are based on a variety of professional factors," she said.

Haney met with about a dozen faculty members Thursday to discuss the college's response to the allegations and the way the school handles student accusations against instructors.

Haney called the meeting, which lasted nearly an hour, very productive.

"We had the opportunity to discuss some of the issues surrounding the situation," he said. "We focused primarily on process, rather than the specifics of the situation."

The college will hold more talks to see of there are better ways to handle such situations in the future, Haney said.

"I'm happy with the process that we followed, (but) we're always looking for ways we can improve."

Schiele stressed the school's responsibility to protect students and protect employees - and their careers - from false allegations.

"Obviously, we're walking a line here," she said.