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District paid instructor before arrest

Middle school performance will continue

Robert Campbell
Robert Campbell

DIXON – The Dixon school district paid Robert Campbell, who was recently arrested on sexual abuse charges, to lead four musical performances.

The school board approved Campbell's hire in December 2009 and subsequently paid him $3,076 each year as the vocal director for the high school's spring musical, Superintendent Michael Juenger said.

Campbell, 31, was arrested Nov. 4 on three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse against one of his former students at Dixon’s VIVA! Performing Arts School, 113 E. First St., where he was employed as the vocal instructor. According to police, that also is where the student says the abuse happened.

According to police, the student sent Juenger and other district administrators an email about the abuse Nov. 3. The investigation began when Juenger contacted Dixon Police Chief Danny Langloss.

Campbell was approved for a fifth performance, Juenger said, but a decision to cancel that would have to come from the school board, which next meets Nov. 20. That cancellation won't be on the agenda because there is no rush to make a decision on the March performance, and Juenger said he wants the district to operate with the mindset that Campbell is innocent until proved guilty.

A decision on the approval for the fifth musical performance is expected to be made by January, Juenger said.

Campbell was paid by the school district for his work with the high school musicals, but not the middle school plays, Juenger said.

The school district still is working with three female VIVA! employees, one of whom is involved with the middle school performance Campbell was working on at the time of his arrest. Two others are working with students on a violin performance.

Tim Boles, VIVA!'s director of drama who, police said, knew about Campbell's alleged sex abuse, has had no further contact with students on school grounds since Nov. 4 and will no longer work with Dixon students, Juenger said.

Reagan Middle School's "Peter Pan," which has performances Nov. 23 and Nov. 24, will continue as scheduled, Juenger said, with the current female instructor from VIVA! and additional help from school parents.

Calls to VIVA! for comment Thursday were not returned.

Campbell, like the three other VIVA! employees who work with the school district, was given a background check before being allowed to work with students, Juenger said.

"There was no history," Juenger said. "There wasn't anything that would alert anyone. There was no reason not to hire him from the info that was reported."

The other VIVA! employees working with Dixon students are not being paid by the school district, Juenger said, adding that there have been no allegations or complaints against them.

Those volunteering or working with students are given background checks before they start, Juenger said.

If there's a chance the volunteer will be alone with students, the background check is more extensive than if the person is volunteering, for example, to be a room mom or a position in which the person will always be in the line of sight of a staff member, like a teacher or principal, Juenger said.

The more extensive background check, which was given to Campbell and the other VIVA! instructors, includes fingerprints taken to the Illinois State Police and a criminal history report being compiled, Juenger explained. The less extensive background check involves online registries, he said.

After the two middle school performances and a violin performance Nov. 25, school officials will meet with VIVA! to discuss possible changes, Juenger said. The school district, he said, is reviewing its policies.

Juenger said such policies are regularly reviewed, but that it never hurts to make sure they're current and being enforced.

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