OTHS settles suit with mother over student-teacher relationship

Christina Stueve Hodges Oct. 11, 2012, 4:00am


O'Fallon Township High School has settled a lawsuit with the mother of a former Alton student who sued the school for allegedly withholding information about a former band director's history of inappropriate relationships with students.

A document filed Tuesday in Madison County Circuit Court states the settlement was reached after both parties consulted with their attorneys and negotiated in good faith.

According to the 2009 complaint, former music teacher and band director Matthew Lang, then 36, taught at Alton Community Unit School District when he engaged in a sexual relationship with plaintiff Mary Doe, 16, then a student at Alton High School.

The lawsuit claimed the O'Fallon school district failed to inform Alton school officials about Lang's history as he sought employment at Alton High School.

According to court records, Lang had sexual relations with a 17-year-old female student at O'Fallon during the 2000-2001 school year. Lang and the former student had kept their relationship a secret and later married in 2008. They divorced after allegations arose involving the Alton student.

"O'Fallon was simply never aware that Lang posed a risk of sexual assault to the plaintiff," wrote O'Fallon Township High School's attorney James Craney.

Background information on the case shows that Lang had been hired by O'Fallon in 1998 and resigned in January 2007, after the school informed him he would no longer be band director. He then sought employment in Alton and was hired in 2007.

Later, he was arrested in connection to his relationship with student Mary Doe of Alton in August 2009. He was found guilty on criminal sexual assault and abuse charges and was sentenced to six years in prison in August 2010.

The suit alleged that the O'Fallon superintendent and principal failed to inform Alton school officials about why Lang left his position as band director. Mary Doe's mother, the plaintiff, alleged that as a result of negotiations between Lang, the teachers' union and the school district, Lang's termination would be called a "resignation."

The teachers union and the Alton High School district, former defendants in the case, had previously settled with the plaintiff.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis was assigned to the case.

Thomas Falb represented Doe.

Craney and David Bub represented the O'Fallon district.

Lang did not have representation listed in the 2009 civil suit. He is listed as an inmate at Graham Correctional Center in Hillsboro, Ill.

The case is Madison County case number 09-L-886.

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