CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools “inexcusably failed, for quite some time” to protect students who were sexually harassed or abused by Chicago Public Schools teachers and employees, federal education officials said Thursday.
That’s the conclusion of a district wide investigation by the feds into CPS’ response to multiple cases sex harassment and assault.
“The Chicago Public Schools have inexcusably failed, for quite some time, to provide their students with the basic protections required by law,” the U.S. Education Department’s Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Kenneth L. Marcus, said.
CPS has agreed to work with the federal government on “significant structural and procedural changes” to protect its students from sexual assault and abuse. CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson outlined the agreement in a letter to parents.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) concluded that, for years, CPS’s handling of complaints of student-on-student and adult-on-student sexual harassment violated Title IX, a sweeping federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program.
OCR’s investigation found that CPS investigations were often conducted by untrained staff.
OCR also found that CPS failed to respond promptly to complaints, did not provide services and remedies to the students, and did not notify the complainants of investigation outcomes. Finally, CPS did not take effective action to provide a safe student environment.
CPS will now be required to:
- Provide complainants who believe CPS mishandled their complaints of sexual misconduct with the opportunity to receive a second, independent review of those complaints.
- Review the actions of current and former district employees who failed to take appropriate action to reports of sexual misconduct.
- Develop a comprehensive process for responding to all complaints of sex discrimination and fully document actions taken.
“Since June 2018, we have been implementing a Comprehensive Plan of Action to protect our students, and our agreement with OCR builds on that plan,” Jackson said in her letter. “It will help ensure our schools are free of harassment, abuse, and discrimination, and ensure our students have the supports they need to overcome challenges and reach their potential.”