Whiteside prevails against ex-teacher

News-DemocratJanuary 8, 2014 

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Whiteside School District 115 and against former teacher Tonya Rives, who filed a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation.

Whiteside School District was granted summary judgment by Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Williams.

Whiteside School District's attorney Doug Heise of Heyl Royster in Edwardsville said he agreed with Williams' judgment.

"I thought it was a very fair and well-reasoned decision," said Heise, who couldn't comment further as it's still pending litigation.

Rives and her attorney Jason R. Craddock have 30 days from Jan. 3 to appeal the judgment. Neither Rives nor Craddock could be reached for comment.

Rives, a black woman, began working for Whiteside School District as a teacher in 2006 and alleged she was the target of harassment and unwarranted discipline during her employment, according to court documents.

The suit also alleged Rives was propositioned sexually on more than one occasion on or about March and April 2010 by a school administrator. Rives refused the sexual advances, court documents state.

In April 2010, Rives was denied tenure to continue as a teacher with Whiteside. She filed a lawsuit against the district and the Illinois Federation of Teachers on Dec. 30, 2011. Rives had sought back pay and other damages for her emotional distress and anguish.

The Illinois Federation of Teachers was voluntarily dismissed as a defendant on July 25, 2012. On Feb. 13, 2013, Whiteside filed a motion to dismiss the claims alleging sexual harassment and retaliation, and Williams dismissed both on Sept. 20, 2013.

Williams granted a summary judgment in favor of Whiteside and against Rives on Jan. 3.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com.