Former Jefferson H.S. Teacher Speaks About Sexual Discrimination Lawsuit

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A former Jefferson High School teacher who recently settled a sexual discrimination lawsuit with District 205, is speaking out about the experience for the first time. In an exclusive interview, 23 News spoke with Anna Johnson, who is encouraging other victims of discrimination to speak up.

Anna Johnson remembers all the good times she had teaching special education at Jefferson High School for two years, as well as coaching basketball at the school.

"I really enjoyed my job at Jefferson, I enjoyed those kids," said Johnson.

But that was all taken away after Johnson says she ended a relationship with Jefferson Principal Don Rundall. According to federal court documents, Johnson was put on administrative leave under previous superintendent Lavonne Sheffield and she was eventually let go with other non-tenured teachers in 2010, after reporting alleged sexual harassment by Rundall.

"When I went to HR (human resources) I was told to keep my mouth shut, it made me feel intimidated," says Johnson.

The lawsuit claims Rundall told Johnson she would keep her job as long as she continued their relationship and didn't tell anyone. Johnson was never rehired in District 205 despite satisfactory reviews and a teacher of the year nomination.

Johnson says she would've made tenure following the year she was let go from Jefferson. Now she says she can't even get a job at a school district.

"I applied for a job in Freeport and I actually got it and was moving my classroom in and as I was moving in, I was told to move out," explains Johnson.

She says she wasn't given a reason for being let go from Freeport, but she believes the incident at Jefferson is keeping her from getting a job in the school system. However, hat's not stopping her from sending a message to other victims of discrimination.

Johnson says, "Hopefully show other people or other women that you do have a voice, you can be heard and you can stand up for yourself even if you're standing alone, because right now I am standing alone."

Again, this happened four years ago under a previous administration. We did reach out to the Freeport school district to find out why Johnson was let go from that school district, we're told those decisions are decided by the school board and that personnel information isn't available to the general public.

We also reached out to district 205 and Don Rundall but they did not want to comment.

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