Aurora elementary principal accused of failing to report potential abuse

An elementary-school principal in East Aurora Unit District 131 has been placed on leave while authorities investigate a misdemeanor charge filed against him of failing to report abuse allegations to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, district officials said.

O'Donnell Elementary School Principal Matt Willigman is now on administrative leave as the district conducts its own investigation into Willigman's actions. The district said the Kane County state's attorney's office made officials aware of the charge against the principal Thursday night.

The probe into Willigman's conduct begins less than a week after a first-grade teacher at District 131's Bardwell Elementary School was placed on administrative leave "under similar circumstances," District 131 Superintendent Jennifer Norrell said in a news release.

As school district employees, Willigman, the Bardwell teacher and all others like them are known as mandated reporters, required by state law to pass along any allegations of child abuse of which they are aware to the Department of Children and Family Services for investigation.

In the case involving Willigman, Norrell said the allegations of abuse ultimately were reported and were deemed unfounded.

But pending the results of the district's internal investigation, Norrell said, Willigman could be penalized.

"We will not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action," she said in the release, "potentially including termination."

In the wake of the two cases of possibly failed reporting, Norrell said all district administrators and department staff members are being directed to complete DCFS online training for mandated reporters again within the next week. The district also is looking to provide additional training on the subject for all employees, including teachers, maintenance workers, office members and support staffers.

Mandated reporter duties are something the district emphasizes when employees are hired and on a regular basis, Norrell said, using training approved and required by the Illinois State Board of Education.

At O'Donnell Elementary, Assistant Principal Jessica Henry will step in as interim principal while the investigation into Willigman is conducted.

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