Former teacher receives $50K in sexual harassment suit involving Jefferson principal
By Jim Hagerty
The former teacher who agreed to terms with District 205 over a sexual harassment and retaliation lawsuit in February will be paid $50,000 to settle the complaint out of court.
Anna Johnson was a special education teacher at Jefferson High School in 2009 when she began a consensual sexual relationship with Principal Donald Rundall. During the relationship, Rundall promised Johnson job security as long as the relationship continued.
When Johnson ended it with Rundall in 2010, she was told to keep quiet about the relationship or lose her job.
Johnson was later let go when the district laid off all non-tenured teachers and was eligible for rehire by Rundall for the 2010-11 school year. According to court records, Johnson was denied a job after she met with administrators, including former Superintendent Dr. LaVonne Sheffield, about her problems with Rundall.
“On or about May 17, 2010, Ms. Johnson was called into a meeting with Superintendent LaVonne Sheffield, defendant’s attorney, Lori Hoadley, and Ms. Davenport to discuss her relationship with Principal Rundall,” said the complaint. “Prior to the meeting with Superintendent Sheffield, Attorney Hoadley, and Ms. Davenport, Rundall called Ms. Johnson into his office.
“Rundall threatened Ms. Johnson that she would not be rehired if she disclosed the relationship (to) Superintendent Sheffield and if she did not begin a sexual relationship with him.”
The Rockford Board of Eduction agreed to settle the lawsuit out of court Feb. 25. The settlement was reached after the case was reviewed by U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard, who ruled there was enough evidence for trial.
Tuesday, April 1, the board agreed to pay Johnson $45,000 in compensatory damages and $5,000 in lost wages.
Johnson is no longer employed by the district.
Rundall still works at Jefferson High School. In 2013, he received a Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Principal.