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Former Providence Student Suing School, Teacher, Diocese & Others

The former student claims he was mistreated by his English teacher, an assistant principal and others associated with Providence Catholic High School.

Providence Catholic High School
Providence Catholic High School
A former student from Providence Catholic High School is suing the New Lenox school, an English teacher, assistant principal, and the Diocese of Joliet.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Will County court, also names the Joliet Diocesan Board of Education and the Province of our Mother of Good Counsel Order of St. Augustine as defendants.

The student, identified both as "ZB"  and "Zak," and as a Homer Glen resident "diagnosed as bipolar and ADHD," attended Providence "during the beginning to middle of fall semester 2011, according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges ZB's English teacher, Kathy Rabbers did not adequately communicate with ZB's parents. The suit also accuses Assistant Principal Janlyn Auld of calling ZB into her office where she "relentlessly questioned (him) regarding his (psychiatrist's) name, prognosis and treatment and took notes throughout the conversation."

ZB eventually left Providence to attend St. Rita of Cascia High School in Chicago. But before transferring, the lawsuit said, Rabbers told ZB "she was 'sick of him,' that she 'did not know what to do with him,' and that she 'didn't want him in her class anymore.'"

On another occasion, Rabbers told ZB's parents during a parent/teacher night that he is a hopeless case, that he is not worth solving, and that he is helpless, the lawsuit said.

After ZB left the school for St. Rita's, the suit said, Rabbers told his former classmates that his parents "informed me on Thursday at parent/teacher night that Zak is seeing a doctor who is medicating him for his condition, and we all see that is not working!"

ZB's mother learned of the statement from four students who called to tell her about it, the suit said.

ZB's parents and school officials also had difficulties over a requirement to sign a HIPPA agreement, according to the lawsuit.

The suit alleges the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress to ZB.

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Celeste Osborne October 11, 2013 at 10:07 PM
I was a student of Kathy Rabbers, she was one of the best teachers I have ever had. Why does the accuser's name get protection but not the person who truly has a reputation to lose? The problem with schools today isn't the teachers or administration, it's the parents who bear no responsibility for the behavior of their own children's actions.
Veronica Wallace October 11, 2013 at 10:12 PM
We all need counseling after attending Catholic school.
Rick Drew October 11, 2013 at 10:16 PM
ChaChing!!! Lady, everything is not an instant payday.
Stephbeth October 11, 2013 at 10:40 PM
Celeste you are right on!
Adam October 11, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Everyone is mistreated at Catholic schools.... Kidding. It all just seems so unlikely. Sounds more like someone just wants money... At yhe expense of someone else.
Dana Serpico October 11, 2013 at 11:43 PM
As a parent who has been actively engaged in her children's education for over 20 years I offer that Kathy Rabbers is one of the best in the business. She is one in a million people. It's tragic that a lawsuit has so much power to trash someone's good name. Shame on anyone who casts judgment. In the end, the army of Celtic students- past and present- AND their parents will stand behind her and there isn't a courtroom big enough in Will County to accommodate us.
Dana Serpico October 11, 2013 at 11:46 PM
P.S. Not sure who the lawyer is in this case but he/she is obviously taking ZB and his family for one heck of a ride.
Taylor Pattinson October 12, 2013 at 03:25 AM
Ms Rabbers was a good teacher, but did not accommodate her students well. although strong English students may succeed in her class, students who struggled (in my experience) were not supported very far by her. I am saddened to hear this news, but I look forward to hearing if any of these claims against Kathy Rabbers are true. hopefully justice (if any is deemed necessary) will be found against her and Janlyn Auld.
Sandie Becker October 12, 2013 at 08:41 AM
Children with special needs are never adequately helped in catholic schools, the public schools can barely get it right. Mental & neurological health issues are plaguing our children and the sad fact is that these kids are often left feeling worthless and unsuccessful. It takes time and energy to help these kids and medications are not always the answer.
Katy Hunter Bristow October 12, 2013 at 08:52 AM
Some of the comments here only make matters worse. It is stated that the Man in question has mental health issues. I think we all tend to forget that Mental Health Issues are not under control of the person who suffers from them. That said, Providence is considered a "College Prep" school and as a result they are used to getting intelligent children who are ready to put their best foot forward. While this is not always what they get, it is what they are most prepared for. I personally had Kathy Rabbers for several years and during that time I am happy to say that she tried hard to reach all of her students, she found ways to make the things that were required interesting and quite frequently even fun!! :) She was able to bring herself to the level of her class. I too suffer from Mental Health Issues and can say that even though I once failed her class. I never once blamed her for that.... matter of fact while I never went to her for 1 on 1 help, nor did I receive it, I feel that she truly tried her best to get and keep most if not everyones attention. She did her best to keep the class something everyone could relate to.... Have you ever read Beowolf? Not exactly light reading but she made it fun!!! Stranger in a Strange Land? She brought that story to life. If someone fails her class, quite likely they needed to ask for help. I can't ever imagine her saying the things she is being charged with. I attended her class over 20 years ago and I know times change and people change but my recent contact with her over the last several years make me think she hasn't. All of that said, obviously this child didn't get the help he felt he needed or paid for..... the question is.... who to blame?
Cara October 12, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Kathy is a wonderful teacher. I still remember all of the British literature she not only taught, but got us excited to read more. She opened the doors for me to appreciate great works of literature that would have otherwise remained closed. She pushed us and encouraged us and I am forever grateful. This article is not an accurate representation of her character.
Scott Schultz October 12, 2013 at 10:25 AM
Taylor your comments are spot on. I have several children that graduated from PCHS and all had Ms. Rabbers with extremely varied experiences with her ranging from very positive to incredibly negative. I interacted with her on several occasions and my experiences were as varied as my children's experiences were. It seems to me if her style of "teaching" connects with a particular student, then she adores the student and the student adores her. If, however, her style/approach does not connect with a student, then (in my family's experiences) she can be very condescending and even vindictive. This was very disconcerting because of how wildly contrasting our interactions with Ms. Rabbers were. Unfortunately, what was more disturbing was our interactions with the PCHS administration. Absolutely apathetic and presumptuous. Much like many of the commentators on this story, they have their perception and it is completely and utterly impossible that someone could have experiences that are diametrically opposed to it. Something else for consideration, I could be way off in my estimation but it doesn't seem that any of the defendants would be considered as having "deep pockets" leading to a huge pay day for the plaintiff should he prevail so just perhaps this might be a "matter of principle" for the plaintiff and his family. Regardless of how differing our experiences, opinions, and conclusions are about this incident, I hope that we can strongly agree that God will bring good out of it as He does from everything. Moreover, I would contend that He already has. Instead of turning his back on the Catholic Church and the outstanding Augustinian tradition when this young man left PCHS, he found a home at St. Rita HS. We must pray for everyone involved.
Claire Dugard October 12, 2013 at 03:39 PM
to any of you who do not know kathy rabbers... don't say things about her. have you ever had her as a teacher? no, so shut your mouth. i had her and she is not only one of the best teachers i have ever had, she is one of the most inspirational, loving, and hard-working people i know. and do you know the student? no, all he was in high school was a trouble maker.. to EVERY teacher. he got expelled from providence.. so maybe you should check yourself before you wreck yourself. she does not deserve to have her name slandered, she is amazing
PCHS12 October 12, 2013 at 05:16 PM
I was actually in the same class as Zak Bernicky and can say that no comments were made by Ms. Rabbers about him or his mental state. These accusations are laughable and it is truly sad that she even has to deal with this stress. Ms. Rabbers treats all of her students with respect and would never even consider making negative remarks about them.
Morgan derose October 12, 2013 at 06:05 PM
Bottom line, if your child has issues don't send them to a private school. They don't have the resources and Mrs. Rabbers I'm sure tried her hardest to accommodate for him. I know her on a teacher and personal level and I also know him. She was the greatest teacher anyone could possibly ask for and she offered help for any student everyday after class, I'm sure he never went. I suffer from ADHD also and passed Mrs. Rabbers class with high B's, she is an amazing person through and through so these accusations are almost humorous. The parents must be in denial that they didn't give their child proper treatment. Having been to three different high schools, that says it all.
Lisa Woodside October 12, 2013 at 10:54 PM
I had Mrs. Rabbers for English at PCHS. She was one of the best teachers I ever had. She was very compassionate and tried very hard. I know that she inspired a lot of students. I find it extremely hard to believe that she could have said anything of the sort. I know several people who did not send their kids to catholic/private schools because they had mental health issues. It is not something they are well equipped for, and if you call they will tell you that they are not going to make accommodations for your child. I have strong negative feelings about the school, but this is ridiculous.
John October 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM
The ignorance within these comments is amazing. Providence is not a place where private information should be given out in class to other students. It's factual information that Kathy read out personal information about zack. I'm not saying that they should have sued at all, but that it's ridiculous people comment on here and say she didn't. Ms. Rabbers did make a mistake and treat zack worse then other kids. But this is because he behaved worse then other kids. But as a teacher it is her job to act professional and not pick on a student she doesn't like. I also really don't think suing is necessary. I don't think zack has held a job or gone to college since high school so maybe this will be his first pay check
Andrew Joseph October 13, 2013 at 02:26 PM
Ms. Rabbers was the best teacher I ever had at Providence. Not believing a word of these claims.
Tyrone Biggums October 13, 2013 at 09:32 PM
honestly, this kid has no chance of winning this. i knew him in highschool and anybody else who has ever talked to him knows that he is just a drug addict and his parents are the same way. His parents would give him money to buy weed in highschool. doesnt surprise me that they are on board with suing over something this stupid. the kid snorts like 3 xanax bars a day, i wouldnt hold him accountable to even remember anything that happend in his highschool career
Stephbeth October 14, 2013 at 11:12 AM
I know mental illness exists but I think there is a HUGE portion of supposed mental illness that is just really spoiled kids with behavior issues and parents behind them making excuses and deeming their precious babies untouchable. It's a bunch of bull. And call me crazy, but I don't think ADD or depression or whatever a kid supposedly has is an excuse to tell off adults and a pass to behave however they'd like. Especially when they are disturbing classes and other 'healthy' students learning.
mark March 06, 2014 at 03:07 PM
This kid is a burnout. shows how good of parents are on board here. PCHS family for life!
Katie March 06, 2014 at 03:44 PM
I don't even know who this kid is and personally that shouldn't matter. And for people to sit on here and defend Ms. Rabbers and bash a kid with a mental disorder is just sick and clearly wasn't raised right. As a grown adult you should know better than to talk about another student. I don't care if Ms. Rabbers acted sweet and whatever, I heard her on multiple occasions bash other students when they weren't there. This whole PCHS is this amazing God loving family is complete shit. And Ms. Rabbers is getting what she deserves. Learn to keep your mouth shut and act your age.
Robert Golinvaux March 06, 2014 at 06:19 PM
As a former student of PCHS and student who was in a class with Zak, and a student of Rabbers. I have to say she was very nice to me, but that not excuse what she may have done. With a bunch of people in Zak's class supporting the allegations, she has to face the consequences. Sad to see this but i cant defend her based on how nice she was

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