A United Township High School teacher won’t likely face students in the classroom again. That’s after the school board placed Jason VanHoutte on unpaid suspension.
VanHoutte, 37, is accused of criminal sexual assault with a female student.
School Board members filed in just before 7 a.m. for the early morning meeting. A 40-minute personnel session behind closed doors to determine VanHoutte’s future.
As the vote to terminate is announced, school officials say enough evidence was provided by investigators that the teacher lose his job.
“The charges are very serious,” said Dr. Jay Morrow, superintendent. “Since it involves a student here at the high school, we felt it was important to take quick action regarding this.”
As a tenured teacher entering his 16th year, VanHoutte has the right to an appeal hearing on September 3. After that date, the termination becomes final.
The longtime social studies teacher and football coach faces felony charges in connection with the case. Investigators believe that criminal sexual activity was occuring between the teacher and a female student in Moline. That’s after Moline police were notified last Friday about potentially inappropriate text messaging between VanHoutte and the student.
The decision comes at a time when U-T teachers and students are just returning to classes. One reason why a letter is going out to parents on Thursday to explain the situation.
“We want to communicate with our parents that we’re offering a safe environment as we can,” Dr. Morrow said. “I want to communicate with parents that we acted swiftly and appropriately in this manner.”
On campus Thursday, dealing with the shock and emotions, but guiding the school to move on.
“We’ll be resilient,” Dr. Morrow concluded. “Our ultimate job is to provide a safe educational environment for our kids.”