Ex-Teacher Files Wrongful Termination Suit After Sexting Scandal

Rochelle Daniels says she was fired after reporting alleged sexual assault to DCFS

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A teacher accused of "gross insubordination" says she did only what state law mandates. Phil Rogers reports. (Published Thursday, Dec 12, 2013)

    A former Hales Franciscan High School teacher on Thursday filed a wrongful termination suit against the school and its principal, alleging she was fired for simply doing what state law mandates.

    The trouble began for Rochelle Daniels, an English teacher at the private Catholic school, about a month ago after she was approached by a female student who reported being sexually assaulted.

    "She explained that she was held down with her arms above her head and assaulted by two boys," Daniels said during an interview in her attorney's office.

    The teacher said the girl asked her not to go to school officials. But as she said she is required to do by law, Daniels contacted someone at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

    Daniels was fired two weeks later, accused of "gross insubordination." In her suit, Daniels said the school's principal, Erica Brownfield, said the former teacher "had no right to either have any conversation with the student or to contact DCFS." Furthermore, Daniels said she was let go after Hales Franciscan President Jeffrey Gray accused her of being the "ringleader" in a conspiracy to have Brownfield terminated.

    A few days after she was fired, Daniels said she began receiving threatening text messages from the girl's alleged assailants. She said the messages were so graphic that she took them to her local police in Aurora.

    "The best teacher at Hales Franciscan High School is out of work, yet the perpetrators are still students at the school," said Daniels' attorney, Joel Handler.

    Daniels alleges she was fired in violation of the state's whistleblower statute, which protects citizens from retribution when they call attention to corruption.

    At attorney for Hales told NBC Chicago that the school denies Daniels' allegations and that officials stand by their reasons for firing her. But Daniels said she believes other teachers at the school who also talked to state officials are on the bubble as well.

    "I have a 15-year-old son. I would in no way send him to Hales Franciscan High School because the administration -- they're not protecting children," said Daniels.