CHICAGO (CBS) — This week was the first of the new school year for Chicago Public Schools, but dozens of the schools have substitute teachers in the classrooms. Many regular teachers are not teaching students because their background checks have not yet been cleared.
A CPS spokesperson says the timetable for their return is still unclear. Some parents are concerned that schools are scrambling with no end in sight.
Luca and Maya Reinoso just completed their first week back at Coonley Elementary School on Chicago’s North side; but Luca has spent her first week with a substitute teacher.
“She’s yet to meet her teacher. She’s had a great substitute all week, but I just kind of feel like they’re on hold a little bit,” said Carrie Reinoso, the girls’ mother.
Carrie Reinoso says she understands that the new sixth grade hire is still waiting for his background check to clear. His is one of hundreds still on hold after Chicago Public Schools required new background checks district-wide in light of the sex abuse scandal.
“Like, who dropped the ball? Somebody had to know that there was going to be this delay,” Reinoso said.
A CPS spokesperson says the process began in June, but blames a delay on some fingerprint submissions. Currently, the spokesperson says 47 full-time teachers and 255 employees are waiting for clearance. 188 other still haven’t submitted fingerprints — five of those are also teachers.
“We’ve heard of teachers, janitors, nurses who have not been cleared and schools that are not getting service,” stated Wendy Katten, the executive director of Raise Your Hand.
The timeline as to when the background checks will get completed is also unclear. CPS officials say staffers who were flagged must be more thoroughly vetted so there is no telling when everyone will be back in place within the schools.
“It’s causing a lot of anxiety at the school-level,” said Katten.
CPS says if the teachers who have not yet submitted fingerprints choose not to do so, they will be fired.