ST. CHARLES – A Kane County judge on Thursday dismissed an order of protection preventing DeKalb School District 428 Superintendent Doug Moeller from coming within 100 feet of DeKalb High School Principal Michele Albano.
The order was dismissed out of hand because Albano did not appear in court Thursday. Moeller was present along with his lawyer, Gary Johnson, as were several District 428 administrators and the lawyer for the district, Anthony Ficarelli.
“This matter has become a distraction to myself and to the work that I pledged to do with and for the DeKalb community and D-428,” Albano said later in a written statement. “I, therefore, believe it is best for all involved if I do not proceed through the courts at this time.”
Moeller had subpoenaed district administrators, including Human Resources Director Jim Bormann, to testify at the hearing. Judge John Dalton waited for about 40 minutes for Albano or her attorney to show up before dismissing the case.
“Sorry we inconvenienced the school district,” Dalton said.
After the order was dismissed, Moeller – who hasn’t been charged with a crime – declined to comment.
Moeller has been on paid leave from his $213,000-a-year job as superintendent of DeKalb County's largest school district since Albano received an order of protection against him Sept. 19. Earlier this week, District 428 hired Brad Hawk as interim superintendent at a rate of $925 a day for up to 100 days.
Albano lives in Elgin, Moeller also has a home there.
In the complaint seeking the order of protection, Albano said that Moeller had become upset with her after she spurned his advances, threatening to ruin her career and intimidating her with a gun.
Albano, who started with District 428 in July but knew Moeller from when they worked together in Elgin, had previously been silent on the issue.
“I’m uncomfortable and sad that this community has had to go through all this,” she said. “I don’t want the kids to continue to be dragged through this. I feel like it’s my job to protect these kids and not drag them into this adult nonsense.”
When asked if she would remain with the school district, Albano said “we’ll see how things flesh out,” adding that she has enjoyed working with the students, the community and the school board since she started with the district in July.
Not everyone who starts the legal process to get a protective order follows it through to the end, said Marj Askins, a sexual assault legal advocate with Safe Passage, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing and preventing domestic violence and sexual assault in DeKalb County.
“It is actually relatively common for the petitioner in a protective order, like a Stalking No Contact Order, to not show up for the hearing on a plenary order. Furthermore, I think it’s incredibly important for people to realize that just because someone doesn’t show up does not mean that they were lying in their petition for an emergency order,” she said. “There are a lot of reasons why a petitioner might decide not to proceed with a plenary order. For one thing, it is extremely intimidating and often downright scary for a lot of people to have to face the person who has been harassing them, which is something the protective order process demands. Some people also feel that the relief that they’ve gotten during the terms of the emergency order is enough for them to feel safe again, and they may not feel they need a plenary order.”
Askins said that each situation is unique and that it is impossible to know what is happening in any specific case without additional information.
District 428 board President Victoria Newport declined to comment about the hearing, and what, if any, effect it would have on the board’s decisions regarding leadership for the district. She said she couldn’t comment because it was a personnel matter.
“People’s privacy has to be respected,” she said. “These are personnel issues.”
She said the district would have to do a “thorough investigation,” but declined to explain what that meant, how long it would take or how much it would cost. She said the board had selected an interim leader and that issues surrounding Moeller and Albano haven’t taken away from the district’s focus.
“Our district is 100-percent committed to education,” she said. “At no time has that been interrupted.”