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June 25, 2022

Candidate for State Rep. of the 102nd District, Jim Acklin’s prior failure to report suspected child abuse –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On February 28, 2016

St. Joseph-Ogden – (ECWd) –

As a teacher, coach, and school superintendent, you are a mandated reporter without question.

Mandated Reporters – This is not a new subject for us, we have been looking at these situations for several years, but nobody wants to talk about them, until now.

One such incident, and it had national attention, was Penn State and  Joe Paterno’s quote of “I wish I had done more.”

Another was an article we posted about a local school – Quote from an article we posted in September of 2012:

“It was only a few short months ago when I questioned our local schools on their policies of mandatory reporting and the fact that state laws say the individual with knowledge must report, while the school boards” … “require notification of the school principal or superintendent prior to reporting. I voiced my opinion that their rule might cause a mandatory reporter to think twice about reporting for fear of retaliation – especially if it involved a relative or friend of a teacher, principal or superintendent – and I felt it was in direct conflict with the intent of the law, which is to allow a mandatory reporter to remain anonymous. Sadly, their policies remain the same.”

The key point to concentrate on in the previous quote is:my opinion that their rule might cause a mandatory reporter to think twice about reporting for fear of retaliation – especially if it involved a relative or friend of a teacher, principal or superintendent and I felt it was in direct conflict with the intent of the law, which is to allow a mandatory reporter to remain anonymous

. . . a relative or friend . . .

St. Joseph-Ogden High School Superintendent Jim Acklin and his alleged failure to report suspected abuse as required by law.

Jim Acklin is currently a candidate for Illinois State Representative of the 102nd District. He was formerly the superintendent of SJO High School district.

In 2012, a “Jane Doe” sued the SJO School District Board and Jim Acklin, among others, in a civil suit arguing in part that there was a failure of the mandated duty to report suspected incidents of abuse to DCFS, willful and wanton indifference to known sexual harassment by Jamison, and negligent hiring and retention of Jamison. The suit also mentioned 6 other minor students. The case led to a settlement and we are waiting on the settlement records from the school district.

The case came on the heals of  former SJO Coach Jon Jamison’s felony charges. Jamison had been charged in 2012 with 2 Counts of criminal sexual assault with the victim between 13 and 17 years of age, and a 3rd Count of Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse with the victim being between the ages of 13 and 17 and Jamison being in a position of trust. His bond was set at $100,000.

On December 20, 2012, Jamison entered a Guilty Plea to the 3rd Count, Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse with the victim being between the ages of 13 and 17 and Jamison being in a position of trust. He was sentenced to 48 month probation and court supervision, along with other items to include registration in the sex offender registration database as a Sexual Predator. This was Champaign County Case # 12CF000199. His next court appearance is December 22, 2016.

Acklin was quoted as saying that he didn’t think the allegations rose to the level of reporting, but what he fails to understand is that it was never his duty to determine if the allegations rose to that level, only that an allegation was made, and he was required by law to report it.

Remember what I talked about 3 1/2 years ago in reference to mandated reporting, and relatives and friends? Here we see something that could have been quashed for that very reason:

An interesting twist in this situation (although it would not alleviate his duty to report) is whether or not Acklin truly thought the allegations were not worth reporting, or whether he was attempting to cover-up for a friend of his family. It was just a few years earlier when Acklin and his son were standing in the wedding party of Jon Jamison as Groomsman and Ring Bearer respectively, the person whom the complaint was against and who later pled guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child in his trust.

Think about this as a warning of future actions based on past actions. Would Acklin report violations of law in the Legislature, or would he simply try to “keep it in-house” so as not to give them a “black eye”? Would he value “friendships” or “donators” more than Truth and Law?

We have much more to report about this as the records keep streaming in, and ask that you check back for updates.

Until then, below are some facts about mandated reporting, and how there is no provision for a mandated reporter or school official to determine if it rises to that level or not. Their only job is to report it.

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The Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act, 325 ILCS 5, is clear on the responsibility and the mandate to report all allegations of abuse.

Section 4 defines those required to report, and includes school personnel including administrators and both certified and non-certified school employees, which also includes school board members.

For Illinois’ Mandated Reporters, the FAQ provided by DCFS explains the law in a question and answer format, which I will include a couple questions here for the purposes of this article:

Q:  Have I fulfilled my obligation as a Mandated Reporter if I tell my supervisor (i.e., principal, manager, administrator) about my suspicions of child abuse or neglect?

A:  No. It is the individual responsibility as a Mandated Reporter to ENSURE that a child abuse report is made to the Hotline. Telling you supervisor or anyone else does not fulfill your legal obligation…

Q:  Does my supervisor (i.e., principal, manager, administrator) have authority to decide whether I call the Hotline?

A:  …the law states that under no circumstances shall any person in charge of an institution control, restrain, or modify a child abuse/neglect report.

 “Mandated reporters who make good faith reports have the same immunity from liability under the law as non-mandated reporters. However, a mandated reporter’s failure to report suspected instances of child abuse or neglect to DCFS constitutes a Class A misdemeanor; simply reporting suspicions to a superior does not satisfy legal requirements.

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Jim-Acklin

Photo from Jim Acklin’s facebook page.

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10 Comments
  • Mike
    Posted at 17:08h, 28 February

    Stiffer penalties might result in increased reporting by educators in a position of trust and authority.

    Failure to report by an educator (a person in a position of trust or authority) could be upgraded through state legislation by the Illinois General Assembly / Governor from a Class A Criminal Misdemeanor, to a Criminal Felony.

    And / or the mandatory consequence of a conviction of failure to report could be changed through state legislation; for instance the consequence could be a mandatory loses of the educator’s license, or even pension.

    Currently educators don’t have their educator license revoked, and they don’t lose their pension, as the result of a Class A Criminal Misdemeanor conviction of Failure to Report.

    The new laws could apply to teachers and administrators whom have an educator license.

    Then we would probably see a lot more reporting of suspected educator sexual misconduct.

    These people are supposed to be trusted licensed professionals.

    Despite rhetoric about safety first and kids come first, our state laws have failure to report as a rather minor offense with convictions resulting in rather minor consequences.

    Some educators have lost their jobs as the result of school board action for failure to report suspected sexual misconduct, and some of those have received a conviction for Class A Misdemeanor failure to report.

    Will write more at a later time.

  • Another Watchdog Watcher
    Posted at 18:20h, 28 February

    Okay…You slung mud against Randy Peterson. Now Jim Acklin. When will your derogatory story about Brad Halbrook come out?

  • Mr. Kotter
    Posted at 22:22h, 28 February

    As a mandated reporter, I know – and I think every mandated reporter knows (should know) very well – what is required of them – especially when they rise to the level Jim has attained in his particular vocation. He has no doubt dealt with the issue numerous times during his career. And, if there is ANY doubt, the mandated reporter errs on the side of caution, the law, and most importantly…in the best interest of the child. I would say that a school administrator, or any administrator in a mandated reporter position, could have consulted their employer’s legal counsel for their input – but I think doing so would be a definite act of shirking responsibility and accountability. Better yet, could have consulted the DCFS website or the State’s Attorney’s office. We’re all grownups, and to be in the position of a mandated reporter, one must have already demonstrated an ability to make reasonable and logical decisions based on available information. I’d be interested in knowing the specific information that was provided to him and the context in which it was provided. Waiting to see “the rest of the story”.

  • Mike
    Posted at 10:56h, 29 February

    Here are three of the few instances in which an Illinois educator received a sentence from the Illinois judicial system for failing to report suspected child abuse.

    In the Jon A White case of educator misconduct, three Urbana School District 116 employees were found or plead guilty in Champaign County courts of failure to report suspected child abuse (325 ILCS 5/4.02).

    Each received a probation sentence of 18 months court supervision, 100 hours of community service, and fined $2,000.

    Successful completion of court supervision meant none would result in a conviction.

    They were:

    – Ms. Janice Bradley, Principal of Thomas Paine Elementary School in Urbana (the school where Mr. White taught).

    – Mr. Gene Amberg, Superintendent of Urbana SD 116.

    – Ms. Carmelita Thomas, Human Resources Director at Urbana SD 116.

    The cases were covered by Amy Shenk & Mary Reiter of the News-Gazette (Champaign), among other reporters and newspapers, including the following articles:

    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2009-02-26/third-urbana-school-administrator-found-guilty-white-case.html

    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2009-02-24/ex-urbana-superintendent-found-guilty.html

    http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2008-12-12/ex-urbana-official-pleads-guilty-jon-white-case.html

    – – – – – – – – – – –

    No loss of pension:

    All three are now retired and receiving TRS pensions per Taxpayers United of America:
    http://www.taxpayersunitedofamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/Champaign-Municipal-Champaign-County-K-12.pdf

    http://www.taxpayereducation.org/2014/11/stunning-champaign-and-decatur-government-pensions-crush-taxpayers

    Mr. Gene Amberg went on to further employment at University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign.

    – – – – – – – – – –

    One of the Worst Ever:

    The Jon A White case is one of the most egregious educator misconduct cases in the history of Illinois public education.

    The case included allegations of a practice known as passing the trash, whereas one school district lets a suspected abuser resign.

    The suspected abuser receives a favorable recommendation and is subsequently employed by another school district.

    In this case it was alleged Mr. White was passed from McLean County USD 5 to Urbana SD 116.

    No state laws were violated in the alleged passing the trash.

  • Betsy
    Posted at 20:36h, 02 March

    You are insinuating that Jim knew of the abuse. Where is your proof of this?

  • Sarah
    Posted at 05:30h, 03 March

    Mr. Aclin along with ex-principal Mr. Uphoff had allegedly been aware of inappropriate behavior and “texting” that Mr. Jamison had engaged in with his underage students. Rather than notifying the proper authorities OR these minors parents, these two allegedly swept it under the rug until it eventually leaked out. By this time it had been going on for years. Mr. Jamison was a good friend to Mr. Acklin and he allegedly tried to protect him rather than the underage children he swore to protect. Mr. Acklin was in a position as a mandated reporter which meant he must report ANY suspicion of abuse of a minor.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 05:35h, 03 March

    And to Betsy, I am a family member of one of the girls.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 08:09h, 03 March

      Sarah: Please call our tipline – would love to talk about this

  • Betsy
    Posted at 15:29h, 03 March

    Again, I ask respectfully, where is your proof of his/their knowledge/awareness? All I see is the word “allegedly”.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 17:17h, 03 March

    I use the word allegedly to protect myself. These are underage kids. Who was there to protect them? Nobody. What if was your daughter, Betsy?

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