District May Fire Sexting Principal

John Steinert has been the principal of Deer Path Middle School for four years

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    John Steinert

    A North Shore School Superintendent plans to ask the Lake Forest District 67 School Board Sunday to fire John Steinert, the principal at Deer Path Middle School for the last four years.

    Dr. Harry Griffith said he reached his conclusion after new information surfaced this week about the married father of four and his 2009 guilty plea to harassment by communication, a misdemeanor.

    "John Steinert was a wonderful, wonderful man. To see this kind of behavior, it was shocking," said the Superintendent of District 67.

    Steinert used his work-issued cell phone in 2008 to send a photo of his genitals to a 22-year-old college student spent a few days at the school as part of her internship with the Gurnee Police Department, officials said.

    Dozens of racy text messages were sent to the woman, a police report shows.

    "If you ask nicely, I’ll send a nice pic of myself," he wrote in a June 2008 message, according to a police report. Later the same day, police said he sent another message: "Can’t seem to send a pic. Want to see the real thing?"

    Griffith said he was shocked.

    "Inappropriate, heinous behavior. It’s wrong. There’s no excuse for it," he said.

    The victim repeatedly asked to be left alone, police said. But instead, they said the harassment resumed and escalated six months later, with Steinert firing off more than 40 texts during a four to five day period.

    "Want me to come over and [expletive] you in the [expletive]? Steinert texted on December 29, 2008, according to a police report.

    The victim came forward on January 3, 2009 and filed a report with police in far north suburban Gurnee, the village where she resides.

    The superintendent concedes he dropped the ball two years ago after police first notified him about Steinert. He reprimanded the principal at the time, but didn’t dismiss him back then because he said he relied on a heavily-redacted police report and thought police could not reveal additional information about the case.

    "If I have one regret, it would have been to understand the police process better," stressed an apologetic-sounding Griffith. "It’s my responsibility for not pursuing it further. I thought I had all the information I needed."

    Gurnee police said it was never their responsibility to follow-up with the school district. They said the department's priority in this matter was not related to Steinert’s employment.

    "They were aware we had seized his phone and that he had been criminally charged," said Gurnee Police Commander Jay Patrick.