CHICAGO (CBS) — More than 150 former Chicago Public Schools staffers barred from working for the district due to abuse, theft, and other misconduct ended up back in the city’s school system, employed at privately managed charter and contract schools.
Some of those employees had been placed on the permanent “do not hire” list at CPS after they were accused of sexually or physically abusing students, falsifying documents, stealing district funds, sleeping on the job, or incompetence.
A report by the CPS inspector general, Nicholas Shuler, found the charter schools and contract schools involved had no way of knowing the staffers had been banned from working for the district, because no system was in place to inform them.
“We believe, by and large, they were hiring these people without knowing they had these ‘do not hire’ designations in their file,” Shuler reiterated.
In an email, CPS spokesman Michael Passman said sharing the “do not hire” information with charter and contract schools requires the consent of each individual on the list. He said the district is urging all charter and contract operators to have the district conduct background checks on all applicants, rather than rely on independent checks.
In other words, CPS did not share the DNH list with the charters, something Shuler called “a big hole in the process.”
“They were concerned about how much information they could share with these charter and contract schools because they’re more independent — they have more independent authority to hire.”
Passman said CPS background checks require prospective employees to allow the district to share “do not hire” information with outside employers.
“While charter and contract schools have autonomy under state law to hire and manage their own staff, CPS will do everything in its power to ensure all Chicago students attend a school staffed with the highest quality personnel,” Passman said.
“To improve coordination between the district and outside operators, we have encouraged all outside school operators to utilize the district’s rigorous background check process, which requires prospective employees to allow CPS to disclose their DNH status to the school operator. Improving information sharing with our partners is a priority for the district, and we are committed to making significant improvements in this area.”
The 163 employees hired despite the CPS employment ban represent 2 percent of all staffers at the district’s charter and contract schools; 98 were hired as teachers, and 34 were hired as administrators or managers.
The report did not identify any of the staffers, or the schools that hired them.
The Chicago Board of Education said the three staffers who had been placed on the “do not hire” list for sexual abuse are no longer working in schools. The status of the other 160 employees was not immediately clear.
Shuler says just because some employees have the CPS DNH designation doesn’t necessarily mean they’re unfit to be in the classroom. He points to teachers who’ve had additional training and improved their performance.
A spokesperson for Mayor Rahm Emanuel says, “If someone can’t be hired at CPS, they shouldn’t be hired by charters either. Period.”