CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public School principals and administrators failed to prevent sex abuse of students by teachers and the district did little or no background check on volunteers, coaches and thousands of vendors working in the school system.
Those are among the findings in a 100-page preliminary report released as part of an investigation into the abuse of students over the past decade in the Chicago school system.
An executive summary of the report said:
“CPS failed to recognize the extent of the problem. It is no surprise then that many of the employees we interviewed expressed shock about the reported extent of sexual misconduct against CPS students. While there were policies and procedures about sexual misconduct on the books, employees were not consistently trained on them, and there were no mechanisms to ensure that they were being uniformly implemented or to evaluate their effectiveness.”
The report also cited high turnover rates among administrators contributed to the failure to take action.
In May, the Chicago Board of Education ordered a top-to-bottom review of all CPS practices, policies, and procedures for addressing and preventing instances of alleged sexual misconduct, harassment, or abuse.
A preliminary report, led by Maggie Hickey, former Assistant United States Attorney and Illinois Executive Inspector General, was issued on Friday.
Citing an investigative series by the Chicago Tribune, the report said CPS failed students in a variety of ways, including: ineffective background checks, victims being re-traumatized by repeated questioning by poorly trained CPS employees; and a failure to track child abuse by CPS employees and volunteers.
Since late 2011 the CPS Law Department investigated over 450 allegations of adult sexual misconduct against students and concluded that misconduct did indeed occur in nearly half of those cases, the report found.
“Of those cases, CPS terminated the employment of most of the adults—or, if the adult was a volunteer, removed the person. A minority of employees received lesser discipline, and an even fewer number of employees received no discipline.
We do not know if these were the right results in all cases. We do know, however, that many—if not most—CPS schools did not know or enforce all relevant policies and procedures, some predators went undetected or unpunished throughout this time, and some serious offenders were able to get jobs in other school districts.”
Over the summer CPS committed to re-check backgrounds of all employees, vendors and volunteers by the fall. The district will also transfer abuse allegations involving adults to the Office of the Inspector General.
According to the report:
“CPS must teach its employees, vendors, and volunteers the rules, methods, and underlying justifications for preventing, identifying, and responding to sexual misconduct. And CPS must hold people accountable when they have been sufficiently supported yet still fail to know and follow these policies.”
A copy of that report is being shared with parents, principals, teachers and school staff, CPS said in a news release.