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Board suspends choir teacher

IHSA, district investigating whether he allowed students to cheat

OREGON – The Oregon schools choir teacher is on administrative leave pending an investigation into possible rules violations at a March 2 music contest.

In a statement released after Monday’s school board meeting, Superintendent Tom Mahoney said district officials are investigating “alleged violations” that took place at the Illinois High School Association Solo and Ensemble Contest at West Carroll High School in Savanna.

District administrators and IHSA officials are determining whether students, with the knowledge of their teacher, participated in more events than contest rules allow.

“Specifically, we received information that, with the knowledge of their teacher, some choir students were performing under other students’ names as a way to increase the number of events in which they could participate,” he said in the statement.

Oregon High School scored 240 total points and took first place in Class B in the vocal competition.

The statement did not name him, but Mitch Lauer is the choir teacher, and he was named by one of the parents at the meeting.

“I really value Mr. Lauer as a teacher. He’s been really good for all the students,” parent Cindy Gehrke told the board. “I think he’s made a mistake, but I hope you will look at all the good things he’s done for the music program.”

School officials began the investigation as soon as they learned of the possible violations, then reported the situation to the IHSA, the statement said.

“During the course of the investigation, it became clear that the March 2 event rules may have been violated,” it said. “Accordingly, the district has contacted the IHSA to self-report these violations. We have pledged to work with the IHSA concerning any investigation into this matter it may wish to undertake.”

Those students not eligible for their awards will be asked to return them. Upcoming music events, such as the spring concert and a trip, remain on the schedule, he said.

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