CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools officials are launching a new office to ensure the safety of the district’s students, in the latest move to respond to a sexual abuse scandal.
CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson said the new 20-member Office of Student Protections will be up and running before the new school year in the fall. She hopes it will end the scandal, which involves allegations of sexual assault and sexual abuse committed against numerous students over a 10-year period.
Jackson said the office will protect children by putting more comprehensive policies in place than at any other school district in the nation.
“They have to, number one, feel comfortable bringing these allegations forward, but more importantly have confidence that something is going to be done about it,” Jackson said. “I think having a centralized office like this will help create that, because people will know that they have someone that they can go to, and make sure that that information gets to the proper authorities faster.”
The office will have a $3 million budget to carry out its mandate to advocate for students, and coordinate the district’s response to any reports of sexual harassment, abuse, or assault.
The reports would include adult-on-student abuse, as well as the far more prevalent student-on-student abuse.
In addition to investigations and reporting requirements, the office will beef up training and awareness policies so preventative techniques are employed by all district employees.
“Having one office to oversee this important work will ensure that our supports, training, awareness, and proper communication are completed from start to finish,” CPS Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade said
The goal is to have the office up and running by the end of the summer. In conjunction with the new office, Jackson is asking the Chicago Board of Education to vote on a new policy requiring all employees to report inappropriate relationships between staff and students.
Finally, all allegations of adult and student abuse would be referred to the district’s inspector general for investigation.