Bartlett High School teacher fired after accusations of inappropriate relationships with 3 students

  • Bartlett High School English teacher Gary Lorber pictured in his classroom.

    Bartlett High School English teacher Gary Lorber pictured in his classroom. Courtesy of Gary Lorber

  • Bartlett High School

    Bartlett High School Daily Herald File Photo

 
 
Updated 11/24/2020 12:05 PM

A tenured Bartlett High School teacher has been fired after accusations of inappropriate relationships with three students who graduated during the 2000s, according to documents released by the school district.

The reasons for Gary Lorber's dismissal were not publicly disclosed at the time of the Elgin Area School District U-46 board of education's unanimous termination vote Monday.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But a Freedom of Information request filed by the Daily Herald led to the release Friday of a Notice of Charges and Bill of Particulars which detailed 20 professional charges against Lorber relating to his conduct with the three students.

The document details a gradual progression from notes and attention, to gifts, and eventually in two cases paid trips to New York.

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials said Friday they are investigating Lorber, but would not disclose any details.

Lorber, 51, of Wheaton has not been charged with any crime.

Lorber, who taught at the school for 25 years, could not be reached for comment. The document released by the district said he apologized to school officials for his behavior.

According to the school district document, U-46 began learning of the inappropriate relationships when it received notice on Sept. 27 from a 2009 graduate who said Lorber had used his position to foster an unprofessional teacher-student relationship with her while she still attended Bartlett High School and then established an inappropriate personal relationship with her after she'd graduated.

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A similar scenario regarding a 2003 graduate was also detailed in the district's document. It included kissing and touching during private practice sessions for a performance, notes saying "my love," emails, phone calls, meetings in a forest preserve and visits to his home, according to the document.

The document states "your grooming of Person B" resulted in "an intimate, personal and sexual relationship with Person B while Person B was student at Bartlett High School." After graduation, the former student moved into Lorber's home as his girlfriend for a time, according to the document.

But a third, earlier student who'd received preferential treatment from Lorber, including regular 30-minute morning meetings before school during her junior year, avoided him during the second half of her senior year before her 2002 graduation because his conduct made her very uncomfortable, according to the document.

The document says that Lorber denied all allegations related to Student A during an initial interview Sept. 30 and refused to answer questions about allegations related to Student B. But after another interview on Oct. 20, he contacted the district.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"On November 5, 2020, you emailed Superintendent Tony Sanders stating that you were 'ashamed and deeply sorry' for your actions as it related to the district's investigation of your actions. You further stated that you wanted Superintendent Sanders to know that you were, 'completely at fault and blame no one but (yourself),'" the document states.

Sanders said in a statement Saturday that the district has sent its finding to the DuPage County state's attorney's office and has asked the state board of education to revoke Lorber's teaching license.

Sanders pointed to the district's current policies and training regarding reporting and preventing of sexual abuse, but added: "We are developing another layer to our professional development to more explicitly address the issue of professional boundaries as well as the requirements to report suspected cases of inappropriate behavior."

Lorber was a popular teacher at the school, serving at one time as the Elgin Teachers' Association's building representative.

When he was briefly placed on administrative leave with pay in November 2013, students took to Twitter, using the hashtag #freelorber to express their disappointment. Some said Lorber was one of their favorite teachers, while others said they felt he was being punished for speaking his mind.

Lorber had said the suspension was because of his vocal opposition to a new grading scale using numbers rather than letters. School officials declined at the time to comment on what was described as a personnel matter.

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