Emails detail depth of Rushville principal investigation

Ryan Plattenberger

Emails released this week by the Schuyler-Industry School District reveal that state agencies are involved in what one state investigator called a pending investigation of inappropriate contact against a high school principal.

Rushville-Industry High School principal Ryan Plattenberger was placed on paid administrative leave at the end of the Oct. 15 school day, according to the email from Schuyler-Industry School District interim superintendent William Mattingly.

The emails obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request reveal that Chicago-based Illinois State Board of Education legal investigator Angela Wartowski is involved in the investigation.

Reached by phone Thursday, Wartowski confirmed that the investigation is still ongoing. She forwarded additional questions about the investigation to the agency's spokesman who was not immediately available.

The spokesman later said he could not discuss the open investigation.

"Interviewing Mr. Plattenberger (Oct. 15) revealed no further information, but did confirm the information that I have," Mattingly wrote in his email sent to a series of redacted email addresses.

The Illinois State Police also contacted Mattingly after officials there received a phone call related to the incident. The state police told Mattingly to contact the Illinois Department of Children and Families Services.

Illinois law requires that schools must report if they have "reasonable cause to believe" if a child is abused or neglected.

DCFS spokeswoman Karen Hawkins said she wasn't able to comment.

The district school board held a special school board meeting Oct. 17 at Mattingly's request. Minutes of that meeting reveal little about the meeting which was mostly held in an executive session. The board closed the meeting where it discussed a personnel matter and options regarding this matter.

Plattenberger continues to draw his $1230 per week salary in his absence.

Mattingly received an email from Wartowski the morning of Oct. 18 to notify him that she had been contacted to investigate Plattenberger.

Mattingly response underscored some skepticism of Wartowski's need to be involved in the investigation.

In my experiences of these kinds of cases, I have not been contacted by the state board before, he wrote. We have done what is necessary as mandated reporters, and the other appropriate outside agencies are involved. Without proper identification, how do I know this is a legitimate request.

Wartowski said that she understood Mattingly's concern, but said that she was trying to get him up to speed with the ISBE's procedures and to see how far along the district was in its own investigation.

That will allow me to appropriately time a subpoena for records that includes your completed investigation, she said.

In his response he asked Wartowski to reveal who contacted ISBE investigators.

By who was this reported to you, he wrote.

The case was referred to her from within the ISBE as they often are, she replied.

The ISBE spokesman who contacted KHQA said he could not reveal who made the initial contact with the ISBE.

Reached for comment Thursday, Mattingly said he couldn't discuss details of the pending inquiry on the advice of the district's attorney.

The bottom line on this is that there's an ongoing investigation, he said. The facts aren't clearly known and anything that is speculative nature could potentially throw off the investigation.