District modifies harassment policy

By on October 23, 2009

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—Based on events last school year that led to the departure of former high school coach and physical education teacher Dennis Hansen, Kaneland School District administrators changed the district’s policies and procedures regarding harassment and equal educational opportunities.

Hansen’s suspension and a subsequent investigation were the result of complaints made by parents, current students and graduates regarding Hansen’s inappropriate behavior toward students.

According to Kaneland Superintendent Charlie McCormick, the investigation brought to light a range of policy, procedure, climate and culture issues that needed to be addressed with teachers, students and parents.

“The current technology has outstripped our ethics,” McCormick said at the time.

The changes focus on relationships with students, what is and is not appropriate, and how new technology plays a role. They also strengthen the complaint procedures available to students and clarify expectations of the staff whose responsibility it is to resolve the complaints.

The modified policy requires those with knowledge of possible situations of harassment to take immediate steps to investigate the conduct and take appropriate action.

The district also added to each school’s handbook a statement assuring freedom from discrimination and harassment, as well as equal access to programs and services.

McCormick said the administration addressed the faculty of every building regarding student-staff relationships and electronic communications.

Athletics Director Leigh Jaffke also addressed these issues in meetings with her staff, and the administration asked The Krier student newspaper for its help in publicizing related issues.

“Communication is crucial,” McCormick said.