A Granite City High School teacher has resigned amid allegations that he had a relationship with a student, who has since filed for a protective order against him.
The Granite City school board accepted the resignation of Andrew Crider at a special meeting Friday night, along with that of another teacher, who Superintendent Jim Greenwald said was not at all connected to the allegations. Crider was an English and journalism teacher, managing approximately 50 students for the online school newspaper, Granite High World. A SIUE grad, he has taught at Granite City High School since 2007.
But in early June, Greenwald said he heard rumors about a relationship between Crider and an 18-year-old student. He said "within 10 seconds" of hearing the rumors, he started making phone calls and launched what he called an extensive investigation, conferring with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, Illinois State Board of Education and Granite City police.
"I have a heavy heart, personally and professionally, when things like this take place," Greenwald said. "When people get into education, we can have a lot of faults. But you cannot have any faults, crossing that line, when it comes to any type of inappropriate relationships with children. That just can't take place."
Because the student was 18, the district could not file a police report, Greenwald said. "Certainly not making it an acceptable situation, but not making it a criminal one," he said. However, the district did share Greenwald's ISBE report with the Granite City Police Department, Greenwald said.
Greenwald said he has personally met with the student's parents, who he described as very concerned but calm.
A request for an emergency order of protection has also been filed against Crider in Madison County Circuit Court. In it, the teen alleges that she had a relationship beginning in March — after she turned 18, but before she graduated from Granite City High School. She said she broke off the relationship because she realized it was wrong and that he was “very manipulative, controlling and obsessive.”
Now she alleges that Crider is stalking her. She said she received an email from him as late as June 13 after asking him not to contact her anymore, and he has also contacted her mother after being asked not to do so.
She said Crider had left a letter on her car at her school stating that “he will never stop waiting for me and that there is no life without me. This was all after I explained to him to never contact me again.”
She said she blocked him from social media, but he drove to the school and emailed her anyway. “I am in fear that he won’t stop,” she said. “I am not sure what he’s capable of, and I’m afraid he may harm me or himself.”
The order of protection instructs Crider to stay away from the girl’s home, school and place of work, and not to approach or communicate with her or her family.
However, Crider issued a statement via email late Friday that says the allegations in the restraining order are "taken out of context."
"I am sorry for the pain I have caused to so many through my selfishness and poor judgment," Crider said. "I have made many mistakes in my lifetime, and I will make many more; I must simply move on and atone for what I've done for the sake of my family. However, the words leveled against me to justify an order of protection have been taken completely out of context, and I am confident this order will be dropped next month when I appear in court."
Crider added that he would not speak about further details regarding the relationship, "so that others might be protected and saved some dignity in this messy business."
As to Crider's teaching credentials, any further discipline will be decided by ISBE, Greenwald said. Full reports have been made to DCFS and ISBE, he said, that will allow ISBE to look at the situation with "a very honest lens."
But state board spokeswoman Jackie Matthews said ISBE likely cannot take action against a teacher's license until they are convicted of certain criminal offenses. ISBE wants to have the authority to suspend teachers’ licenses as soon as an investigation begins into allegations such as possible abuse or neglect of a child, Matthews said, but at the moment, they cannot.
Greenwald clarified that the special meeting Friday night was actually for an unrelated issue of pending litigation and had nothing to do with the Crider investigation. However, he said, given the circumstances, they added Crider to the agenda rather than wait for the next school board meeting. There was no discussion among the board in open session on the issue.