Aurora elementary teacher guilty of failing to report child abuse

A Kane County jury on Tuesday convicted a former first-grade bilingual teacher at Bardwell Elementary School in Aurora of failing to report child abuse as a mandated reporter.

Elizabeth Aguilar, 43, of Aurora, was charged in October 2018 with the misdemeanor offense. As a teacher, Aguilar is designated by the state's Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act as a mandated reporter required to immediately report suspected child abuse and neglect to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Matt Willigman, principal at O'Donnell Elementary School in East Aurora District 131, also was charged in October with failure to report suspected abuse. He was placed on administrative leave after his arrest, and school district spokesman Tom Jackson said Willigman resigned from his post Aug. 20.

Willigman is due in court on Thursday,

In Aguilar's case, prosecutors presented evidence that on March 7, 2018, Aguilar had reasonable cause to believe a student she knew in her professional capacity was being abused and that she failed to call DCFS at (800) 252-2873.

Mandated reporters also include, but are not limited to, day care workers, health care workers, church officials and school employees.

"Mandated reporters are obligated by law to report suspected child abuse. If the life and well-being of a child is at stake, it is not too much to ask. I hope this verdict sends a clear and strong message that there are consequences for those who do not take this obligation seriously," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "If a report proves to be unfounded, the law provides immunity if the report was made in good faith."

A message left for her defense attorney, Reginald Campbell, was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Jackson said the school board fired Aguilar on Sept. 3.

"Every District 131 employee and Board member signs a statement upon employment or election acknowledging their mandated reporter status and responsibilities," Jackson said in an email, which also noted additional training for staff members. "The safety and security of our schools and students is always our top priority."

Kane County Judge Alice Tracy will sentence Aguilar on Nov. 13. She faces a sentence ranging from probation to up to 364 days in jail.

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