Urbana school district will conduct internal, external reviews

URBANA – With the Urbana school board meeting barely begun, board President Joyce Hudson addressed concerns about the school district's process in hiring Jon White, an Urbana teacher at Thomas Paine Elementary School now charged with predatory criminal sexual assault.

Hudson said the board had asked Superintendent Gene Amberg to launch an internal review of the district's handling of the situation. "He is currently gathering the facts and will report to the board," she said.

Police investigation into school molestation widens

Police in Normal have opened an investigation into allegations that a teacher charged with molesting students in Urbana may have been inappropriate with students when he taught in Normal.

Normal Assistant Police Chief Kirk Ijams said Tuesday his department has received "several" calls from parents regarding Jon Andrew White, 26, of Normal, who was a teacher at two different grade schools in the McLean County Unit 5 school district from 2002 to 2005.

Municipal candidates set for area races

Monday was the final day for candidates to submit petitions for elected offices in area communities.

Here are candidates who filed nominating petitions or were nominated for village or city offices by their party caucuses in Douglas, Ford, Iroquois, Piatt and McLean counties.

Thomas Paine meeting with parents set for Wednesday

URBANA – Parents of Thomas Paine Elementary School students will have a chance Wednesday to voice their concerns in the wake of the arrest of teacher Jon White, 26, of Normal, on charges of sexually molesting children in school.

On Wednesday at 7 p.m., representatives from the Urbana school district and Mental Health Center of Champaign County and possibly the Urbana Police Department will be available to parents. The meeting will take place at the gymnasium in the school, at 1801 James Cherry Drive, U.

Mother 'furious' with Urbana school officials

URBANA – The parent of a young girl at Thomas Paine School who is believed to have been molested by second-grade teacher Jon White a year ago said she is "furious" with Urbana school district administrators and feels they are working to protect each other more than students.

"They're still stonewalling. This has to stop. We have to stop protecting careers over kids," said the mother, who agreed to talk to The News-Gazette on the condition she not be identified. The News-Gazette has a long-standing policy of not identifying victims of sex crimes.

Urbana school board president to step down early

URBANA – Urbana school board members will choose a new president when they meet next week.

Joyce Hudson, the current president of the board, has decided to step down from that post as of Tuesday, said district spokeswoman Kathy Wallig.

Champaign high schools targeting tardiness

CHAMPAIGN – Central High School Principal Bill Freyman greeted students streaming into the building on a recent morning, asking some about their weekends and teasing others that they weren't dressed warmly enough. But as the clock ticked closer to 8:15, Freyman began urging students to hurry to class.

"Come on, guys. You've got about four minutes," he told a group approaching the school. "Hurry, hurry. You should be able to make it."

Photography class exposes students to knowledge

URBANA – It's no surprise that students in Susan Gleason's photography classes take pictures.

What's surprising is that, this week, they're inside the camera when they're getting the shots.

Skirvin won't run for re-election

CHAMPAIGN – Champaign school board President Margie Skirvin will not be on the ballot for April's school board election.

Skirvin announced this weekend she has decided not to run for re-election because of health reasons, but she will finish her term on the board.

Candidates start filing petitions for Champaign school board

CHAMPAIGN – Voters will choose from at least a half-dozen candidates for five open Champaign school board seats, and other potential candidates have until the first of next week to get on the ballot.

Six candidates filed their nominating petitions and other required materials Monday morning at the Mellon Administrative Center. They are: Kristine Chalifoux, John Bambenek, Susan Grey, Greg Novak, Scott MacAdam and Melodye Rosales.