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West Aurora board gives current administrators pass in handling Orland abuse case

Former West AurorHigh School bdirector Steve Orland

Former West Aurora High School band director Steve Orland

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:28AM

AURORA — The West Aurora School Board has found no evidence that “any current district administrator” knowingly failed to report an incident regarding former band director Steve Orland, who has now been convicted of sexual abuse of students

Board President Neal Ormond read a statement at the end of a three-hour School Board meeting Monday night, regarding an incident that a former janitor witnessed and reported to administrators a full 10 months before Orland was charged with sexual abuse.

“Regarding the board’s review, it has been concluded, and we found no evidence indicating any current district administrator knowingly failed to report after having reasonable cause to believe a child was abused or neglected,” Ormond said.

Ormond did not expand on the details or scope of the internal School Board review, because the incident is still under investigation by the Kane County state’s attorney office.

Later, however, district spokesman Mike Chapin said “the review was limited to current staff only.” Dan Bridges, West Aurora principal at the time of the Orland incident, is now superintendent of the Naperville School District. Chapin also refused to comment further because of the continuing investigation.

The incident was brought to light earlier this year, when the former janitor came forward to The Beacon-News. He spotted Orland and a girl in a band storage closet, standing very close. When spotted, Orland took off running, according to the janitor.

From there, the janitor reported the incident to Bridges and Superintendent James Rydland, who declined to report it to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Orland was later caught and charged with sexual abuse during the 2011 school year.

School District attorney Pete Wilson has said that the janitor’s report, which was not made until weeks after the incident, did not contain enough credible evidence to warrant a report with DCFS.

“We share the anger felt by the greater West Aurora community that something like this could have happened in the district,” Ormond said.

The School Board Monday also affirmed the district’s safety action plan, which it discussed at meetings in the weeks after the janitor came forward in August. The plan contains safety steps that have already been implemented, or are in the planning and discussion stages.

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