A Downers Grove middle school teacher resigned and gave up her teaching certificate after explicit photos were found on her school computer and authorities began investigating allegations that she shared them with an underage boy, according to records obtained by the Tribune.
Kimberly A. Mason left her post as a language arts teacher at Herrick Middle School in August after district officials accused her of keeping nude or semi-nude pictures of herself on her school computer, according to Illinois State Board of Education records provided in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
Following a police report filed by her husband, the Illinois Department of Children and Family services ruled on Jan. 4 that the report of abuse was "indicated," meaning that an investigator found credible evidence that abuse took place.
Allegations of exploitation of a child were investigated, but DuPage County State's Attorney's office spokesman Paul Darrah said that there is no proof of criminal activity and charges will not be filed.
The district did not notify parents about the investigation or the teacher's departure.
Grade School District 58 superintendent Kari Cremascoli said the public was not notified because it does not normally publicize the employment status of any teacher beyond what is shared during school board meetings.
"It was no different from what would happen with any other teacher," Cremascoli said. "When we accepted that resignation, we did so in good faith."
Mason, 34, declined a request for an interview. In state documents reviewed by the newspaper, she denied sharing the photos with a child, according to an attorney for the state Board of Education.
"(Mason) advised me that she did have pictures of herself on her school computer that showed her clad in underwear or less, but that she never emailed them to a minor," ISBE attorney Jessica Riddick wrote in the Aug. 30 memo obtained by the Tribune.
Cremascoli defended the decision not to inform parents, saying that it was important not to "trump up" allegations that had yet to be proven in criminal court.
"In cooperating with authorities, they had to do their investigation," Cremascoli said. "They asked us to allow them to pursue that investigation. There was nothing to share or report."
A police report filed Aug. 10 in Glendale Heights, where Mason resides, prompted notification of the DuPage County Children's Center, Downers Grove police and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.
Cremascoli said that District 58 also became aware a police report had been filed, but declined to say when or what steps the district took in response.
Cremascoli contacted state education officials Aug. 23, the day after Mason's dated letter of resignation, to say the district "found evidence of inappropriate use of school computers," and alleged that Mason "had pictures of herself clad in underwear or nude stored on her school computer and may have emailed them to a minor," according to Riddick's memo.
Cremascoli said Mason's last day at work was June 6 and the board accepted her resignation during a special board meeting on Aug. 27.
In Illinois, a voluntarily surrendered certificate is classified as revoked. Mason's teaching certificate was revoked on Aug. 31.
Clarkin would not specify the type of abuse that allegedly took place. DCFS investigations typically involve interviews with all available witnesses, and law enforcement and the state's attorney's office are notified within 24 hours of an "indicated" report, Clarkin said.
DCFS has no authority to sanction anyone who has been "indicated" for abuse or neglect, Clarkin said, though that person can be prevented from working with any agency licensed by DCFS. The agency keeps indicated reports of child abuse or neglect on file for a minimum of five years, according to the website, information employers can access through a background check.
"Our role, although parallel, is separate and distinct from any criminal process," Clarkin said.
According to the ISBE, Mason spent her eight-year career as a certified teacher at Herrick.
ISBE spokeswoman Amanda Simhauser said the ISBE reported Mason's revoked credentials to the National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification. Through that database, Simhauser said, officials can access a report showing a revoked teaching license in another state and request more details from that state's board.