CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools (CPS) is checking the background of thousands of CPS employees following reports students were sexually abused by teachers and other adults.
CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports the effort is time-consuming for those who have to be fingerprinted.
“I’ve been here for 45 minutes, going on an hour,” stated Clare McCarthy, who has been a CPS teacher for more than 30 years. McCarthy said she had another hour to wait in order to be fingerprinted on Chicago’s northwest side.
“The last week of school I was notified to say ‘You’re going to have to have this done’, then I got an email saying ‘Nope, you don’t have to have it done, you’re okay’ and I was very excited about it. Then I got another email saying ‘You have to get it done,’” she said.
The background checks for all CPS employees comes after a Tribune investigation found hundreds of students were sexually abused over years.
“Right now we’re on track to complete that before the start of the school year,” stated CPS CEO Janice Jackson.
Jackson apologized to the victims in front of a supportive audience at the City Club Monday.
“We can never let that happen again,” Jackson said. “To the survivors, I say at every step of the way we should have listened to you. We should have protected you and in some cases, we failed you. And I’m deeply sorry for that.”
Morgan Aranda, now a student at Ohio State, is a victim of abuse at Payton Prep.
“Unfortunately, sorry is a little too late when so many children for so many decades have undergone the kind of trauma that me and fellow victims have gone through. I’ll believe when I see real systemic change,” Aranda stated, skeptical of Jackson’s apology.
Teacher Clare McCarthy, the mother of a CBS 2 employee, says she understands the need to take steps to protect children, but wishes they’d been better organized.
“To get all of us to do it, they gave us a month to do it. It’s very inconvenient, wasting an afternoon to sit here,” she said.
Not just teachers are having their backgrounds checked. Anyone who might have contact with CPS students, including vendors, have to go through the process.
CPS says all allegations of abuse must be reported.