Naperville, Dist. 203 set to pay $125K each to family of teen who died after questioning

A settlement agreement pending approval by the city of Naperville and Naperville Unit District 203 would pay a combined $250,000 to the family of a 16-year-old who took his own life after questioning by school officials in early 2017.

The city and school district each are set to give the family of Corey Walgren $125,000 to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit filed by his parents, Douglas and Maureen Walgren, after the teen's death on Jan. 11, 2017, according to a signed release included with the next Naperville City Council agenda.

The settlement would come with neither the city nor school district admitting to any fault or wrongdoing.

The lawsuit claimed two deans at Naperville North High School and a Naperville police officer violated Illinois law by questioning Corey - before his mom was called and headed toward the school - about allegations he recorded a sexual encounter with a classmate without her knowledge and kept the recording on his phone.

It claimed the administrators and police officer violated Corey's constitutional rights with actions to "falsely threaten and coerce" him to answer questions, including warning him that he may have to register as a sex offender because of the recording.

The suit, which sought $5 million in damages, said Corey played the recording in audio form for several friends but never texted or emailed it, and no child pornography was found on his phone.

At some point during questioning, the lawsuit said, Corey left the dean's office, exited the school and walked to the top of a five-story parking garage in downtown Naperville, where he fell to his death.

The pending settlement comes after a federal judge in January dismissed the lawsuit and the Walgren family appealed the dismissal to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The potential close of the case also comes after Gov. J.B. Pritzker last week signed a state law inspired by Corey's death that changes requirements schools must follow when questioning students about potential wrongdoing.

The law now says school personnel must notify parents and make "reasonable efforts" to ensure they are present before detaining and questioning any student younger than 18. If it's not possible for a parent to be there, the law says, a school social worker, psychologist, nurse, guidance counselor or other mental health professional should be present.

Corey's parents signed the settlement last Friday, and it is listed for approval on the next Naperville City Council agenda for a meeting Tuesday.

Naperville Unit District 203's next school board meeting is Sept. 9, and district spokeswoman Sinikka Mondini said the settlement is set to be discussed then. Both the city and school district said they would not comment until all parties have reviewed or approved the agreement.

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