Wednesday, March 05, 2008

School that got Pilgrim funds lost sex case

Oh man why does this have to be an even bigger mess and are these stories beating a dead horse?
A private school that Gov. Blagojevich said errantly received $1 million from his administration failed to stop a former kindergarten teacher from being sexually harassed and unlawfully retaliated against her when she complained, a state panel ruled in 2006.

The judgment by the state Human Rights Commission against Loop Lab School and one of its former officials, Tyrone Johnson, came two months before Blagojevich's administration awarded the $1 million grant to the school.

Gov pledges another $1 mil. to church Blagojevich: $1M for church went to 'wrong place'

The little-noticed sexual harassment case raises troubling new questions about why the school got the money and to what extent, if any, its operation was vetted by Blagojevich's administration.

Late Tuesday, the governor's office said the school did not disclose the sexual harrassment judgment before getting the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant.

"DCEO is reviewing the school's compliance with the grant agreement. There appear to be some red flags that they're investigating more closely," Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff said.

Loop Lab School has been the focal point this week of one of the most embarrassing escapades under the two-term governor, who publicly acknowledged sending state dollars to "the wrong place."

The governor promised $1 million to historic Pilgrim Baptist Church in Bronzeville to rebuild from a catastrophic 2006 fire.

But Loop Lab School, which rented fire-damaged quarters from the church but had no other affiliation, was given the money insteadand, in turn, used it to buy space in a downtown office building once owned by John Thomas, an undercover informant in federal government corruption and real estate investigations.

Church officials and even the governor were unaware of where the reconstruction money had gone until Monday when the Chicago Sun-Times broke the story.

The sexual harassment controversy involves a kindergarten teacher's claims against Johnson, the school's former personnel manager and administrator who allegedly put his hand in the teacher's shirt and on her buttocks, kissed her and placed a candy bar between her legs over her protests, the commission ruled.

The teacher complained to the school's business manager and, later, its director, Elmira Mayes, who implied the teacher's job could be in peril. The business manager allegedly accused the teacher of theft, as well.

The teacher, whom the Sun-Times is not naming because she was deemed to be a sexual harassment victim, resigned, sued and won.

Late Tuesday, Johnson denied her accusations, calling them "frivolous," and said, "There's a lot of what they said is not even true. They can't even prove a shred of it."

But neither Johnson nor the school mounted a defense in the case and were declared by an administrative law judge to be in default. They were ordered to pay damages to the ex-teacher in excess of $40,000 -- money the woman has yet to collect.

Now, the teacher's lawyer, Patricia Motto, said she intends to stake a claim on the $1 million state payout to Loop Lab School, which used that money last year to buy and renovate the second floor of 318 W. Adams St. but has yet to hold any classes there.
While I can certainly understand if this teacher truly was harrassed by other employees at her workplace. On the other hand I can accuse this woman of being greedy. I don't know but the sad thing is now this money that was supposed to go to Pilgram Church as promised by the governor two years ago after the historic Louis Sullivan designed building was burned as a shell of its former self was sent to this school and now taxpayer's money might be taken as a spoil in a lawsuit.

They say that he makes these promises but fails in the follow up. Say like he decided that he forgot his promise or something. That or he just doesn't care about the details. Man this governor is awful!

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