UPDATED: January 23, 2018 6 p.m.
Jessica Krueger has resigned from her job as a math specialist at Mequon-Theinsville School District outside Milwaukee.
According to a letter sent to parents at Lake Shore Middle School, district officials learned of an alleged inappropriate relationship with a Dallas Lutheran School student and met with Krueger Tuesday morning.
Krueger was placed on administrative leave and then submitted her resignation.
DALLAS (CBS11 I-TEAM) – A North Texas family says their son’s school was repeatedly warned that he was sleeping with a teacher and did little to stop it. Now the family is suing the school to implement new policies and procedures.
Dallas Lutheran is a private Christian school with an annual tuition of approximately $13,000. The student at the center of the lawsuit says in many ways, his was a typical high school experience. “Hung out with friends a lot, played a lot of sports, football, basketball, track.”
Dallas Lutheran math teacher Jessica Krueger began to tutor the student during the summer of 2014. “I needed help with a class and she gave me her cell phone number.” He was 18 and about to be a senior at DLS; she was 26.
HOW IT BEGAN
The student says Krueger pursued him, sending flirty text messages until things escalated that September. “She got physical with me during school,” he said. The two began a sexual relationship that would last more than a year.
The student says Krueger quickly became his life. “She’d always want me to come over. She was always texting me, even during school.” Soon, the relationship wasn’t so secret. “A couple friends knew, and then every time I went out with them that’s all they’d ask about.” Word started to spread through the small school of 170 students. “[Classmates] started finding out and… they’d confront me about it.”
Sick of the questions, the boy says he withdrew from everyone except Krueger. “I was isolated from all my friends. I didn’t do anything on the weekends or after school or anything like that,” he said. “She’d always want me to come over to her apartment or meet her somewhere.” Still, the student’s mother said she had no idea. “We completely trusted her,” she said. Krueger did not respond to our requests for comment on this story.
SCHOOL TIPPED OFF
Attorneys for the family say a former student emailed the school in April 2015, warning administrators about the relationship. “As far as we can tell the school took the email, sat on it for a few days, then eventually asked the teacher if there was any truth to the rumors,” said attorney John Matney. He says the teacher denied it. “And after that nothing happened in terms of investigating or trying to determine whether there was any truth to the report of the relationship.”
Still, the rumors persisted. Attorneys say just a few weeks later, another tip came to the school’s executive director, David Bangert, but again, they believe the school did not conduct any further investigation.
In May, the teen’s relay team qualified for a state track meet. He and his teammates were sent to Waco on an overnight trip with one chaperone — the coach, Jessica Krueger. “Not surprisingly the boy and the teacher ended up in a room together,” said Matney. He says Bangert signed off on the trip.
Meanwhile, the student says the relationship was reshaping his college plans. He’d long planned to attend Texas A&M Corpus Christi, but he says the teacher convinced him to switch to a university in Wisconsin, where she was planning to take a new job. “She did the application, she did all my essays, she did everything.” His parents say they learned of the change just days before graduation.
After months of rumors, the boy’s sister confronted him and Krueger about the relationship. By the end of May 2015 it became too much for the girl so she broke the news to her parents via text. “Can you imagine getting a text message from your daughter,'” said John Sloan, another attorney representing the family. “And you and your spouse are reading that text message… completely shocked and taken aback.” The mother says it was a devastating blow. “We had such a tight family, and then in one day… this just blew everything up.”
The mother says she and her husband immediately asked for a meeting with the principal, Todd Nitz, and Bangert. “They thought they were breaking the news to the school,” said Matney. “As they walk in, [Bangert] says ‘what are we here to talk about? I’ve only got 30 minutes,'” said Sloan. The boy’s mother says the meeting did not go well. “He told us he was not going to go on a witch hunt,” said the mother. Bangert declined to be interviewed for this story.
A few hours later, Bangert emailed them to say he had asked the teacher about the rumors and she had said it was not true. The mother thinks the school didn’t want to face reality. “I think they were trying to get him [the son] out. To get our son graduated and then it wouldn’t be their problem anymore,” she said. “They should’ve called us. They should have put her on some sort of leave while they did an investigation so that she would not be around our son.”
Krueger resigned in June to take a job at Wisconsin Lutheran School. Attorneys say Dallas Lutheran administrators told their counterparts in Milwaukee about the rumors but said “there wasn’t anything to substantiate the relationship,” said Matney.
POLICE ARE CALLED
Dallas Lutheran contacted the Dallas Police Department in July 2015. (In Texas, a teacher who has sex with a student can be charged with a felony, even if the student is of age.) Krueger was already out of state, but the relationship continued. The family’s attorneys say a detective interviewed the teen. “[The student] was not only concerned about his own well-being but making sure the teacher didn’t get in trouble,” said Matney. “So he wasn’t willing to render any statement or testify against her at the time.”
DPD closed the case without filing charges. The department provided the following statement to CBS11:
“The victim was contacted by detectives, but refused to participate in the investigation. The victim’s parents were also contacted, but they could not get the victim to participate in the investigation. Detectives could not move forward in the investigation without a complainant.”
In August, Dallas Lutheran sent a letter home to all parents about an “alleged inappropriate relationship.” The letter said the investigation was turned over to police, something that surprised the boy’s parents. “There was no investigation to turn over,” said the mother. “They didn’t talk to our son, they didn’t talk to other students who knew, they didn’t talk to other teachers — they just didn’t try to look at all.”
The family says they spent the next year trying to work with the school to implement new policies and procedures. They say when that didn’t happen, the family hired attorneys.
John Matney and John Sloan say it didn’t take them long to find plenty of evidence to prove the relationship: 12,000 text messages between the student and teacher. “Any text message with sexual innuendo would be bad enough [between a student and a teacher],” said Sloan. “These are so far past sexual innuendo — these are the sexual acts, how she enjoyed them, and things of this nature.”
But it wasn’t all about sex. The attorneys say some of the texts revealed a shocking secret: Krueger had taken a polygraph about the relationship. “It was certainly bizarre when we found out it existed,” said Sloan. He says the student had become convinced Krueger was cheating on him. “The lie detector test was geared to prove to the boy that he was the only lover she had.”
It’s more proof of what so many others suspected was happening, says the student’s mother. “There were just too many rumors around for [administrators] to have not looked into it,” she said. “Why not try to find the truth — they didn’t even try.”
Dallas Lutheran School originally provided the following statement to CBS11:
“We do not believe it is ethically appropriate to comment on cases that are in litigation. We will try our case in the courtroom in the presence of a Judge who will enforce the rules of evidence and procedure to insure all parties receive a fair trial. We view this as an attempt by the the family and their attorneys to influence potential jurors via the media where there are no rules of evidence or procedure which we believe is improper on their part. Therefore there will be no further comments by DLS on this subject until after the trial of this matter or any related appeal is concluded.”
DLS sent an updated statement January 22, 2018:
“The relationship took place during the last months of the now former student’s senior year, 2014-2015. The student was 18 at the time. In April 2015, only two months prior to graduation, Dallas Lutheran School received information about a possible incident. The information came in the form of one email from a then-former student. An internal investigation included talking with the teacher to address the rumors. Also, the school contacted the Dallas Police Department; they investigated and found no criminal wrongdoing and neither the student nor his family pressed charges. The teacher, who was in her early twenties, left Dallas Lutheran School and the Dallas area in 2015.
“We do not condone inappropriate relationships between teachers and students of any age and take this issue very seriously,” said Dave Bangert, Executive Director for Dallas Lutheran School. “School administrators did not have specific knowledge of what took place between the student and teacher. It was an isolated incident that has never happened before nor has anything similar ever happened again.”
Jessica Krueger left her job at Wisconsin Lutheran and is currently teaching at another school near Milwaukee.