CHICAGO (CBS)–A sensitive email from a North Side principal to parents addressing a recess monitor’s sex abuse allegations has accidentally landed in the email inboxes of young students at the school where an after-school worker allegedly touched a young girl.
Bell Elementary School principal Katie Miller emailed hundreds of parents at the North Center school on Dec. 30 to address criminal charges against Quinten Hawthorne, a 22-year-old contracted by CPS to staff after-school programs and recess through Right at School, a company that provides staffing for some CPS schools.
Hawthorne allegedly touched a 12-year-old girl inappropriately on several occasions between Nov. 7 and Nov. 21, according to Chicago police. He is charged with criminal sexual abuse of a child under the age of 13 and sexual exploitation of a child.
He has since been banned from working for CPS, but parents’ concerns about the situation intensified since a sensitive email explaining the incident mistakenly wound up in their kids’ inboxes.
Three days after Hawthorne was charged, according to police, an email detailing the incident was mistakenly sent to students’ inboxes. The Dec. 30 email reads, in part:
“In late November, Quinten Hawthorne, an employee of a vendor that provides after-school and recess monitoring services at our school, was accused of inappropriate behavior involving a student. As soon as we learned of these allegations, Mr. Hawthorne was banned from the school and an investigation was initiated. Parents of the student who was affected have been notified, and our school has worked with the CPS Office of Student Protections and Title IX to coordinate supports for the student. Since that time, Mr. Hawthorne has been arrested and criminally charged related to the allegations at our school.”
It’s unclear how many students received the email or why the school mixed up the student email list with the parents’ list.
Miller did not immediately return a request for comment Monday, but she addressed the mistake in a follow-up email to parents on Jan. 4, which read:
…”It’s come to my attention that some students may have received the initial email in their accounts. Again, I sincerely apologize for the errors with the original email notification. It was very unfortunate, and it will be corrected immediately.”
The news that Hawthorne slipped through the cracks and was allowed to care for her kindergartner left parent Lauren Chatman deeply unsettled, but learning that the principal emailed adult information to young students left her in a deeper state of fear and confusion.
“My kid is at the school every day from 8 to 5, and you want them to be safe no matter what,” Chatman said. “It feels like we were hit by a bomb.”
Turning to Facebook to connect with other parents, Chatman said the incident has jarred the school community and has left her and other parents questioning their sense of security.
“Security at the school was so strict that I couldn’t even bring a hermit crab to my (child’s) classroom without passing a security check,” she said. “I don’t understand how this could have happened.”
Chatman said that despite the email error, she thought Miller handled what she described as a “delicate situation” in a professional manner.