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Education

District 428's Moeller on leave after principal seeks restraining order

DHS principal says boss intimidated her with gun, threatened her after she turned down advances

DEKALB – The District 428 school board announced Superintendent Doug Moeller had been placed on paid leave Wednesday, two days after the DeKalb High School principal sought an order of protection against him.

On Monday, DeKalb High School Principal Michele Albano requested and was granted an order of protection against Moeller – her direct supervisor – by a Kane County judge. 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.

The order requires Moeller to stay at least 100 feet from Albano's Elgin home and DeKalb High "unless on official business in the presence of another administrator."

The order remains in effect until Oct. 6, when a court hearing is scheduled. There is no record of Kane County prosecutors filing any criminal charges in the matter.

Albano did not attend the school board meeting on Tuesday and was not at work on Wednesday. When reached by phone, she declined to comment on the allegations, whether she wanted to pursue criminal charges, or if she had hired a lawyer.

"I can't speak about it," she said. "I really apologize."

However, she offered a version of events in the court documents she filed Monday. The trouble began on Sept. 11, Albano said.

"Doug was upset with me for refusing to go out with him. I came up with an excuse," Albano wrote in the complaint. "He called me drunk on three occasions the night of (Sept. 11)."

Albano also wrote that prescription drug use may have been a factor.

"Doug has increasingly demonstrated an unstable and very unpredictable behavior," she wrote. "He has, at times, blamed this on prescription drugs."

Albano also alleged that Moeller had brandished a gun in her presence and had threatened to ruin her career.

"He has sent me a series of emails threatening to go to the [school board]," Albano wrote. "Doug has told me on several occasions that he keeps a loaded gun in his Tahoe.

" ... Doug has brandished his gun in my presence, popping the cartridge out and popping bullets out to show how adept he is with a gun."

Moeller declined to comment Wednesday on advice from his attorney.

The email from the school board didn't mention the order of protection.

“We wish to advise our parents and community members that Dr. Doug Moeller has been placed on paid administrative leave,” an email signed by the Board of Education said. “The Board of Education is in the process of hiring an interim superintendent."

“The Board of Education and administration are committed to maintain the quality of education our students deserve. We will keep you updated on further events.”

Moeller’s removal was not the subject of a public vote during the school board meeting on Tuesday, although there were two closed-session portions of the meeting. The Illinois Open Meetings Act forbids board members from voting in closed session. Moeller also didn't attend Tuesday's meeting.

Albano was Moeller's handpicked choice to replace Tamra Ropeter as principal at DeKalb High. She was working in the Bolingbrook school district at the time.

Moeller and Albano worked together in Elgin school district U-46 over a decade ago. Moeller touted Albano's work with low-income student populations as a major reason for choosing her.

School Board President Victoria Newport did not respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

School board member Howard Solomon said he learned of the decision Tuesday. He said he wasn't aware of the order of protection or the allegations it contained.

He said that as part of the administrative leave process, employees were required to turn over their keys and other means of accessing district buildings.

“Ultimately it comes down to things that are matters of personnel, things that I’m not allowed to tell you about,” he said.

Moeller spent two years as an assistant superintendent and three years as DeKalb High principal before he was hired as superintendent in 2013, with a four-year contract and a base salary of $190,000. Moeller was the only candidate interviewed for the position. 

Solomon said Wednesday’s message was not necessarily a sign that Moeller was finished at District 428.

“We are not saying by this that there is a permanent replacement being sought, we are also not saying that it’s a temporary replacement being sought,” he said. “… It’s a qualified replacement for however much time, but there’s no indication included in this email that says anybody has been dismissed from a position."

Daily Chronicle Editor Eric Olson and Reporter Rhonda Gillespie contributed to this story.

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