Crime & Courts

Diocese of Joliet suspends principal of school where Jeremy Hylka worked

Diocese officials acknowledged Hylka didn’t fulfill employment requirements

The Diocese of Joliet said Jeremy Hylka did not fulfill employment requirements while he taught at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Lockport and the principal has now been placed on administrative leave.

At 5:28 p.m. on Friday, diocese officials released a statement that said they are examining “the circumstances regarding Hylka’s employment.”

Hylka was a teacher at Joliet Catholic Academy until he was investigated for “online allegations” June 2 and subsequently resigned. He was then hired to work as a teacher for St. Joseph’s for the current academic year until he was fired last week.

On Tuesday, diocese officials said Hylka “applied for the St. Joseph’s teaching position and was vetted like any other candidate.”

Officials acknowledged Friday that “Hylka did not fulfill employment requirements while teaching at St. Joseph Catholic School in Lockport.”

“He obtained a substitute teaching license in January 2021 and was not enrolled in a teacher preparation program, which is required to continue teaching in a full-time position,” diocese officials said.

Lynne Scheffler, St. Joseph’s principal, was placed on administrative leave “effective immediately” while the school and diocese examine how Hylka was hired.

On April 29, a Will County judge issued a warrant for Hylka’s arrest on charges of traveling to meet a child and grooming.

The charges were the result of an investigation by Joliet police detectives, who received a Snapchat video from the group Save Our Siblings that police said captures Hylka attempting to rendezvous with someone he thought was a 15-year-old boy April 27 at a Joliet McDonald’s.

Diocese officials disclosed earlier this week that Hylka was investigated in January 2021 when officials became aware of a TikTok video referencing a man who was propositioned or groomed by an unnamed teacher.

Diocese officials said Hylka was put on leave from St. Joseph’s for two weeks “out of an abundance of caution.” They said the investigation was not disclosed to parents as it was a “confidential personnel matter” and because the account in the TikTok video could not be “clearly linked to Hylka.”

Hylka has been fired his positions at St. Joseph’s, as well as St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus, both in Joliet, according to the diocese. He’s also prohibited from working or volunteering for any diocesan school or parish.