|David Corral was a gym teacher at Major Hector Garcia High School, 4248 W. 47th St. in Chicago. He has filed a federal lawsuit over his firing. (John J. Kim/Sun-Times)|
An influential Latino community group that oversees a number of charter schools in Chicago tried to cover up the sexual assault of a student—and retaliated against the teacher reporting the incident, a federal lawsuit claims.
The alleged assault occurred last November at the Major Hector P. Garcia M.D. High School, run by the United Neighborhood Organization, or UNO.
A male student getting ready in the locker room for gym class was pinned by a teenager while another student rubbed his genitals against the victim, according to the lawsuit and interviews.
The alleged victim resisted and was beaten, to the extent that red marks were visible on his body, the suit claims.
When gym teacher David Corral saw the boy minutes later, it was clear something had transpired, so Corral contacted a counselor for help, the suit says.
School officials pieced together what happened, police were called to the South Side building — at 4248 W. 47th St. — and the alleged assailants were arrested, the suit claims. Law enforcement authorities confirmed the two were arrested, but the case was eventually dropped.
Corral was fired days later for “improper monitoring of students’ behavior overall and in the locker rooms,” according to UNO spokesman Mark Flores.
Corral, though, filed a lawsuit against the UNO Charter School Network in June saying he really was canned because he blew the whistle on the incident, which school officials had wanted to keep secret.
Among the allegations in the lawsuit:
- An UNO “representative” visited the home of the alleged victim to persuade his “parents to drop the charges” against the other students.
- The boy described as “the main offender” was let back into the school within days of the incident.
- Corral was singled out for blame even though it’s “physically impossible [for an instructor] to be in the [boys’] locker room, the [girls’] locker room, and the gym at the same time.”
UNO officials denied there was pressure placed on the parents of the alleged victim, and insisted Corral was not fired for reporting the matter.
UNO leader Juan Rangel, appointed earlier this year by Mayor Daley to serve on the Chicago Park District board, brushed off the suit in an interview, saying: “Teachers being disgruntled? It’s like any other business. We manage a very large institution.”
Garcia High, which has 450 students, is one of UNO’s nine charter schools. They receive public funding but aren’t subject to many of the stringent rules in place at traditional public schools.
The inspector general’s office for Chicago Public Schools was unaware of the lawsuit until contacted by the Better Government Association.
An IG official said his agency has jurisdiction to look into the matter, and now plans to do so.
The principal at Garcia High did not return phone calls. An UNO spokesman would not say whether any other employees were disciplined.
A trial date for the lawsuit has not been set.