Percy Julian Middle School | File

A non-certified employee at Percy Julian Middle School is on leave and being investigated by the Oak Park Police Department as well as by Oak Park Elementary School District 97 after allegedly engaging in inappropriate communications with Percy Julian students. Two sources, who asked not to be identified, because of the sensitivity of the case, told Wednesday Journal the employee is a male hall monitor.

Oak Park village spokesman Dan Yopchick told Wednesday Journal on Monday that  Oak Park Police are still investigating and no charges have yet been filed.

District 97 superintendent Ushma Shah informed Julian parents of the allegations in a letter sent on Jan 13. Percy Julian Middle School is at 416 S. Ridgeland Ave.

“School and district administrators this week became aware that a non-certified employee of Julian allegedly engaged in appropriate communications with students,” Shah wrote. “Upon receiving the report, the proper authorities were notified, the employee was immediately removed from the school pending the investigation, and the families of the involved students were notified.”

Shah also said the district was conducting an internal investigation of the matter as well as cooperating with “local authorities.”

“At this time, the district is unable to disclose any details surrounding the specific allegations.”

On Jan 23 Wednesday Journal reached out to District 97 for more information about the case and was asked to submit questions by email. Wednesday Journal emailed six questions to a spokeswoman for the District 97 including whether the employee was on paid or unpaid leave, how long the employee has worked at Julian, the nature of the alleged communications with students, the gender of the students allegedly contacted, and the status of the internal investigation.

District 97 spokeswoman Rebecca Bald replied that District 97 was unable to answer specific questions because it is a personnel matter which required attention be paid to both the rights of employees and students. Instead Bald issued a general statement that repeated many of the points made in Shah’s letter to parents.

“Our safety staff has been working with the police department and conducting an internal investigation into the information received,” Bald wrote in an email. “The district has been, and will continue, implementing any responsive measures necessary to protect the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

“Though the district is unable to disclose additional details at this time, the school and district took swift action to address the allegations and have been in close contact with families of involved students to offer supports. As a school district, we are required to report employee misconduct to the appropriate agencies and have made the necessary reports in this case. Parents and guardians also independently have the right to file reports with the authorities.”

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