Parent reaction to Richwoods High School teacher's arrest - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Parent reaction to Richwoods High School teacher's arrest

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Phillip Earhart Phillip Earhart
PEORIA, Ill. (WEEK) -

A Peoria teacher is behind bars, leaving some students and their families in a state of disbelief.

Phillip Earhart, 30, is accused of having inappropriate interactions with a 17-year-old female, student and Monday those accusations manifested into an arrest.  

"There was allegations of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and a student" said Chris Coplan, Spokesperson for Peoria Public Schools.

He says the district learned about the claims on Thursday, January 25th, after students at Richwoods reported the allegations to administration.

The district turned those allegations over to DCFS and Peoria Police. After two and a half weeks of investigation, Earhart was charged with 'Criminal Sexual Assault' with force.

"Anytime an allegation's made, it's very disappointing and we take the role that we need to take to protect the students and the process." added Coplan.

Earhart's arrest did come as a shock to one parent who said to her knowledge, he was a great teacher, especially to her son.

"I have met him. Last year my son was with him and I used to come and do parent-teacher meetings and conferences. I used to talk to him and that news was a complete shock." said Sobia Paul.

Paul went on to say that Earhart taught her son as a Richwoods freshman and she never had any complaints, further adding that her son had a great relationship with the teacher. 

Paul says she's always felt safe sending her son to school, but is curious about the district's next steps.

"I had confidence in whatever they were doing, but you know with this news coming out, of course there has to be something done." said Paul.

Regardless of what the police investigation finds, it's possible Earhart could face separate punishment from the district.

"We have strict policies that outline inappropriate relationships among staff and students. That is not tolerated and so the board may opt to choose to terminate or give disciplinary action to a staff member if it's found that those policies are not abided by." explained Coplan.

Coplan says the students at Richwoods Community High School are safe and their choice to report the incident shows their confidence in administration to handle these situations.  

The teacher remains on paid leave, per standard Peoria Public Schools procedure. 

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