EVANSTON, IL — Evanston/Skokie School District 65 has a record of a 2009 grooming investigation into the middle school teacher who was fired this month from Lake Forest School District 67, but it has no records of ever notifying any other districts or employers about it.

In response to public records requests, District 65 officials said they were unable to find records of any teachers that had been asked to resign to allegations of sexually inappropriate contact with students.

Administrators admitted they still have a record of the investigation into the teacher but declined to release even a redacted version of it, citing the exemption to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, that protects draft documents.

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It marks the first time Evanston school officials have provided any corroboration to the accusations that prompted the termination of the tenured teacher.

As previously reported by Patch, Lake Forest school officials learned about the 14-year-old allegations into former 6th grade math teacher Paul Brock from a parent who had asked that her child be kept out of his class.

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Brock was fired Dec. 2 from his job at Deer Path Middle School in Lake Forest after he declined to pursue a hearing contesting his dismissal.

According to the bill of particulars the district provided him, he “repeatedly violated staff-student boundaries through verbal and electronic communication with the Student in order to establish a romantic or sexual relationship” while working at Haven Middle School in Evanston.

District 65 representatives have previously described the allegations against Brock to be “highly inappropriate and deeply disturbing” but could not provide any information about them, noting that no administrators or board members from 2009 are still in office.

To justify keeping the record of the investigation secret, the district’s FOIA officer also cited exemptions to the FOIA that cover student identifying information and exempt personal information, but she offered no evidence as to why the district is incapable of redacting such information before releasing it.

While Illinois law enforcement agencies must report officers who resign or retire after being served notice that they are under investigation, there is no similar requirement for public school districts when teachers who resign amid investigations that would lead to their firing.
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District 67 spokesperson Melissa Oakley told Patch all prospective employees are asked if they have previously resigned to avoid termination.

“[Brock’s] application indicated no — which we now know was a lie,” Oakley said.

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