SPRINGFIELD IL Nov 19 2012
A second student is alleging he had a sexual relationship with a Lanphier High School teacher.
The mother of a 17-year-old Lanphier student told The State Journal-Register Friday her son has admitted having a sexual relationship with Jennifer Tyree, an English teacher who was put on unpaid administrative leave after being accused of having a sexual relationship with another 17-year-old student. Tyree was arrested earlier this week.
Springfield deputy police chief Cliff Buscher confirmed officers have received a second complaint and will be investigating the allegations.
“We are going to follow up on that (Friday) and this weekend,” Buscher said.
The mother, who is not being named to protect the student’s identity, said she questioned her son about Tyree after learning details of the first student’s relationship, which mirrored Tyree’s interactions with her own son.
“I approached him last night after I read the article, and he told me the truth,” the mother said Friday. “The woman was coming to my home. She told me she was his mentor. We met for lunch — she picked me up, and we had lunch, and we had discussed nothing but (my son) and his grades.
“I would say, ‘We need more teachers like this,’ not knowing she was sleeping with him.”
Springfield School District spokesman Pete Sherman said the district is investigating the situation along with police. School Superintendent Walter Milton will report his findings to the school board during closed session Monday. Sherman said the discussion must be private because it is a personnel matter.
“As these allegations continue to be investigated by law enforcement, the District intends to fully comply with the legal process that currently is taking its proper course,” Sherman wrote in an emailed statement. “Meanwhile, the District also will be evaluating its own hiring practices of temporary teachers and the events that have unfolded in relation to this matter.”
Tyree was hired just before the start of this school year on a one-year contract to teach English at Lanphier, although she doesn’t have the necessary certification. Tyree holds an elementary teaching certificate, which allows her to teach kindergarten through ninth grade, and she has English endorsements only for middle school grades.
“We feel obligated to take a step back and evaluate our process,” Sherman said. “It may turn out we did everything appropriately or it may turn out we realize we need to make some changes — we aren’t making judgments at this point.”
Sangamon County regional school superintendent Jeff Vose said placing teachers in classes they are not certified to teach potentially could invalidate students’ grades in those classes or affect student achievement.
“If a teacher is certified to teach elementary school and they are teaching high school, students may not be receiving information correctly, because the training of that teacher is not appropriate to that grade level,” Vose said.