CHICAGO (CBS) — The inspector general for the Chicago Public Schools is taking the district to task in a 50-page report filled with hundreds of allegations of misconduct, waste, and fraud.
Among the findings, a pervasive problem of improper admissions. Close to half of elementary schools audited by the inspector general had at least 15 improperly enrolled students.
According to the report, children in the wealthiest CPS attendance area are receiving special priority access to two years of free full-day Montessori preschool at Oscar Mayer School in Lincoln Park. The district typically awards free preschool based on financial need. The inspector general recommended CPS stop funding the perk at Oscar Mayer as soon as possible.
An elementary school teacher who was previously arrested for sexual abuse and indecent solicitation of a child was hired by CPS in 2003. His background check failed to reveal his conviction for misdemeanor battery involving a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old boy, which he disclosed on his application.
A former high school music teacher deposited more than $13,000 raised by the school choir into his personal bank account, withheld some of that money from the school, and spent most of it without properly accounting for how it was spent. That teacher has since resigned, and was placed on the district’s “do not hire” list.
A contract custodian stole more than $500 from an unlocked safe at an elementary school. The money was collected from students to cover yearbook fees, graduation fees, and a trip to Springfield. The custodian admitted to the theft, and the district is working with the company he works for to make sure he never works on CPS property again.
A high school principal hired a dance teacher, despite the fact that teacher did not undergo a background check, and was unlicensed. Even after the teacher left, the school continued to offer the class without a teacher or curriculum, and students were mostly given A grades just for attending class.
A year ago, another inspector general’s report led to the rapid resignation of CEO Forrest Claypool. That report found Claypool altered documents and lied to the inspector general about an ethics investigation involving CPS attorney with ties to Claypool.
Claypool replaced Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is serving time in a federal prison for scheming to collect kickbacks. She is also mentioned in the inspector general’s latest report, for helping a company win millions of dollars in CPS contracts.
CPS said it takes the report seriously.
“As noted in the report, the district has held accountable all individuals who committed serious breaches of CPS policy and public trust. We appreciate the Office of Inspector General’s continued diligence in identifying and investigating wrongdoing, and we will continue to hold employees to high standards of integrity to ensure they are acting in the best interests of students,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman stated in an email.