District 203 Responds to Counselor Being Charged; Tax Abatement Approved

Get the low down from the Naperville School District 203 meeting.

Citing the ongoing investigation, officials in could not comment further Tuesday night about the employee who was charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse on Tuesday.

“We have been limited and will be limited to what we can say about it out of respect to the wishes of the law enforcement agencies who are conducting the investigation,” Schools Superintendent Mark Mitrovich said during Tuesday night’s board meeting.

“What is most important to us at this time is that we maintain the high quality education program and remember all the staff in that building that do an outstanding job every day, every hour that they are there. That we support the students who are there, who are most precious to us. And in the end the school will go on and maintain the proud tradition that it has for so long.”

On Tuesday, the DuPage County State’s Attorney charged 33-year-old John Carbonaro of Warrenville with aggravated criminal sexual abuse following an investigation into reports of an inappropriate relationship with a student.

“He is scheduled to turn himself in tomorrow morning,” District Spokeswoman Susan Rice said Tuesday.

Carbonaro is a school counselor and assistant girls golf and softball coach at Naperville North High School. He was hired as a full-time employee in 2006, at which time he successfully passed the background checks required of all district employees, officials said. Pending a full investigation by law enforcement officials, he was suspended with pay by the district and removed from all duties and responsibilities, the district said.

“Any situation that places the welfare of a student at risk is of the highest concern to any educator," Mitrovich said in a statement. "It is for this reason that I am profoundly shocked and disappointed over the news that an individual within our school system may have violated this deepest of trusts.”

An e-mail was sent to the community late Tuesday afternoon, and in the evening, Naperville North Principal Kevin Pobst sent a message to school parents.

“I know that you join me in feeling great sorrow for our student who was the victim of abuse, as well as many other students who are suffering great disappointment,” Pobst wrote. “I want the students and families of Naperville North to know how sorry I am for what happened to these students and for the pain that the North community will be experiencing in the days and weeks to come. I am particularly crushed because my first responsibility as a Principal is to protect the health and well-being of each student at NNHS.”

In his letter, Pobst told parents “We will rebuild your trust in North.”

“We aspire for North High to be a place of caring, responsibility, and integrity,” he wrote. “We pledge to redouble our efforts to be that for students and families.”

Counseling support is being made available to students and staff at the school who would like to discuss the issue, district officials said.

“If your student is seeking support, please direct him or her to speak with their individual counselor, social worker, or a trusted teacher,” Mitrovich said. “We also have employee assistance experts on campus to provide assistance.”

The district first became aware of the alleged relationship last week after a parent heard comments about an inappropriate relationship between an employee and student at North and shared the information with the principal.

“...last Thursday evening, Feb. 17, a courageous parent contacted me to tell me about a rumor of an inappropriate relationship between a staff member and a student,” Pobst wrote in his letter to parents. “I reached out to the parents of the student named in the rumor and worked with District leaders to notify the proper legal authorities who conducted a full investigation. That investigation continues. Our cooperation with legal authorities has been robust.”

The district said it takes allegations of misconduct by any staff  member very seriously, and urges anyone who feels the actions of a staff member have been inappropriate to bring his or her concerns to the attention of the school principal or district administration immediately.

“Because that person took that action, that we were able to move forward and discover what was occurring,” Rice said. “It’s crucial that we all assist in the protection of our students.”

“Moving forward, this matter is now in the hands of law enforcement officials, while our attention is focused on the welfare of our students, which is of paramount concern to us,” Mitrovich said.

In other board news:

The board approved the abatement of the entire 2010 debt service tax levy of $3,070,401. The abatement lowers the tax bill increase residents will see to 1.1 percent from the 2.7 percent anticipated when the district adopted the levy in December. The tax rate will now be 4.1932, said Dave Zager, assistant superintendent for finance.

That means the owner of a home valued at $400,000 will pay about $5,083 in taxes to the school district for 2010, which is a $53 increase over the 2009 tax bill, Zager said. While the board chose to approve an increase in the optional fees charged for student participation in various activities, the board opted to leave the required general fees the same for 2011-2012.

Next year school fees will remain at $34 for preschool and kindergarten students, $68 for first through fifth grade students, $80 for junior high students and $81 for high school students. The fee for a heart monitor strap for sixth grade students will remain at $9. Technology fees will remain the same, $12 for preschool and kindergarten students, with all other students paying $29. Towel fees for high school students also remain the same: $10.25 for grades 9, 11 and 12 and $7 for sophomores.

Board members said they will review the idea of general fees and fee structure at a future meeting.

The last time the district raised general and optional fees was 2001.


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