Officials with the Chicago Public Schools district have fired six employees and banned four substitute teachers from the classrooms in response to sexual misconduct investigations that have been ongoing since October.
Additionally, 33 other employees have been suspended from working in schools pending the outcome of these investigations. this group includes twelve teachers, eight security guards, five vendor employees, and four bus workers.
In October, CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler opened an investigation into allegations of widespread sexual abuse at CPS schools. Since then, he has opened almost 140 inquiries.
The district has also launched a special investigation team for student-on-student misconduct cases. That office has received over 930 allegations since September.
In 2018, the Chicago Tribune published a special investigative report called “Betrayed“. This report investigated 108 cases of sexual abuse in CPS schools over the past decade, including 72 that involved school employees as the perpetrators.
In an interview with the Tribune for this report, CPS acknowledged bureaucratic failures and promised to improve hiring, criminal background checks, investigative procedures, disciplinary actions, employee training, and support for survivors of abuse.
The report points to several culpable parties in failing to keep students safe, including employees, the CPS central office, the district’s Law Department, and federal agencies.
Attorney contributor Brian Kent is a former prosecutor who now represents survivors of sexual violence in civil lawsuits and is a lawyer for sexual abuse in public school. Here are some of his thoughts on the legal options available to school sex abuse survivors and their families:
No child should feel unsafe at school and no parent should need to worry that their child will be harmed while trying to get an education. But unfortunately, not all of our nation’s schools prioritize student safety the way that they should. This can have disastrous consequences, as sexual predators often seek out positions in schools and other areas involving working with kids. Our schools must be aware of this threat and do all that they can to protect their students.
When a school employee sexually abuses a student, there are many difficult concerns to address once the allegations are brought to light. The perpetrator must be arrested and prosecuted, the victim, their families, and other students must get the support they need, and the school must also be held accountable if their negligence allowed the abuse to happen.
Cases that involve negligence may provide grounds for a lawsuit by the victims and their families. For example, a sexual abuse victim might have grounds for a lawsuit if the person who abused them had a history of sexual misconduct allegations with no response from the school, such as suspending the employee and contacting law enforcement.
If your child is a survivor of sexual abuse by a school employee, we understand how traumatic this time is for your family. We want to help you get the justice you deserve. To learn more about your legal options, consider contacting one of our experienced sexual abuse survivors attorneys.