Two Reed-Custer School District 255 teachers who have been arrested on sex crime charges came to the district with positive references and clean criminal background checks, the district’s superintendent said.
Kevin W. Macha, 28, of Joliet and Dayna Chidester, 50, of Manhattan were teachers for the Braidwood district until they were arrested.
Macha has been charged with possession of child pornography and Chidester with grooming and sexually abusing a 14-year-old boy, who is not a Reed-Custer student. Chidester could face a child pornography charge as a prosecutor said she and the victim traded nude photos of each other.
District 255 Superintendent Mark Mitchell said in an email that Macha and Chidester came to the district with positive references and completely clean criminal background checks.
“Once positive references are received, criminal background checks are conducted and individuals are employed, we cannot control what they do after hours when they are not at work. We can react to inappropriate nonwork-related activities, and we did so promptly in both instances,” Mitchell said.
Macha, who was hired Aug. 11, 2015, was suspended without pay the same day the district learned of the investigation by the Will County Sheriff’s Office, Mitchell said. The district board accepted his resignation Dec. 19.
Chidester, who was hired Aug. 14, 2017, declared her resignation Wednesday after district officials confronted her with allegations of exchanging text messages about drugs with a student, Mitchell said. When she was later charged with sexual abuse of a minor, Mitchell wrote her a letter saying he would recommend the district board accept her resignation.
Mitchell said Macha’s and Chidester’s criminal background checks were clean, according to the Will County Regional Office of Education, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Illinois State Police.
The district has been cooperating with the sheriff’s office on its investigation into Macha, such as allowing them access to his district-provided laptop computer and a copy of an email search related to his email account “which did not appear to have any signs of inappropriate activity,” Mitchell said.
“At no time during Mr. Macha’s employment did the district have any suspicion about him participating in any inappropriate activity,” Mitchell said.
Braidwood police began investigating allegations that Chidester exchanged text messages with a student about drugs after a parent of a Reed-Custer High School student contacted a school resource officer, according to a statement from the district.