Chicago schools OIG reports over 1,700 sexual allegations cases since 2018; 470 in FY 2022
The report also details out-of-control "extra pay" reaching $74M; a five-year high
The Office of the Inspector General for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) dropped an annual review report last week detailing its investigations into the school system in the areas of fraud, misconduct, and sexual allegation investigations.
The findings by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), contained over 1,800 total complaints.
“In Fiscal Year 2022, the OIG received 1,825 complaints alleging misconduct, waste, fraud and financial mismanagement at Chicago Public Schools, including allegations of adult-on-student sexual misconduct and other misconduct by CPS employees and vendors. Of the 1,825 total complaints received, the OIG opened investigations into a total of 725 cases (39.7%),”
Of the over 1,800 complaints, more than 470 fell under the purview of the OIG Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU).
Since its formation in 2018, the SAU opened 1,735 cases based on allegations from students, alumni, parents, staff, and other sources. Per a press release, a total of 1,384 cases were closed, including 302 of which led to investigations substantiating a CPS policy violation, and 18 that had criminal charges filed.
According to the report, the SAU was able to close 322 more cases in 2022 than it closed in 2021. From the chart (below) in the report, it is clear that some open cases roll over from one year to another based on the fact the 2022 closure rate is higher than the number of cases opened.
The SAU has interesting powers such as issuing subpoenas and has a staff of just 30 people. The SAU’s history is contained in the report, noting their “uniquely qualified investigators” were created specifically to tackle teacher misconduct and Title IX violations.
The OIG report is 120 pages long and the documentation of the sexual allegations cases begins on page 36 and extends through page 62.
Other inappropriate misconduct cases, many with sexual components, continue beyond page 62, ending on page 99. In other words, the bulk of the report deals with sexual assault, inappropriate conduct, and grooming cases.
There are dozens of cases included in the report but the SAU notes there are often barriers to investigations such as delayed reporting, lack of evidence, victim denying abuse, and other obstacles such as teachers failing to report abuse.
In one of the cases, teachers covered for another who was exposing his genitals to students. Per the OIG SAU report, “Not only did the staff members fail to report the teacher’s misconduct as they were required to do, they tipped off the teacher about the student’s complaint.”
Investigations often ended with a teacher resigning and a “Do Not Hire” letter being placed in the personnel file of the individual. The OIG report does not indicate whether or not that teacher is reported to the background check clearinghouses.
The case examples included in the report are disturbing and the majority include some component of grooming paired with social media apps.
The excerpted examples that follow are taken directly from the OIG’s report. For the full case details, please refer to the OIG Report.
High School Teacher Groomed and Sexually Assaulted a Female Student (20-00335)
An OIG investigation determined that a teacher groomed and sexually assaulted a 17- year-old student on three occasions. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office charged the teacher with multiple counts of criminal sexual assault. The case went to trial in November 2022, and a jury acquitted the teacher on all counts.
The student provided detailed accounts of the three separate instances of sexual assault, and her allegations were in part corroborated by text messages on the CPSsanctioned Remind app, Snapchat records, and a student witness who overheard a conversation between the teacher and student. The teacher’s own statements in the Remind messages also corroborated that the teacher engaged in sexual assault of the student.
Specifically, when the student mentioned that she was going to disclose the sexual abuse, the teacher responded, “Please no……” and “we r talking about my entire life here……Please… I’m begging u….”
Prior to the sexual assaults, the teacher groomed the student by establishing an emotional connection with her and breaking down her inhibitions. She said that she began to think of him as her friend and therapist.
Former JROTC Staff Member Charged with Sexual Assault and Aggravated Criminal Sexual Abuse of a Female High School Student (19-02349)
An OIG investigation found that a former JROTC staff member had sex with a female high school student over the course of a year when she was 16 to 17 years old. During this period, the JROTC staff member provided the student with alcohol and consumed marijuana around her. He had the student buy marijuana for him (before it was legal in Illinois) and bring it to the school.
Cell phone records showed hundreds of text messages and calls between the JROTC staff member and the student. The OIG reviewed text messages that were overtly sexual, including “I’m ready to f*** right now … I’m not gonna be gentle either.”
The investigation also revealed that when the JROTC staff member became aware that he might be under investigation, he threatened to kill the student and her family if she disclosed the sexual abuse
High School Teacher Sent Pornographic Videos of Himself to a Student and Exposed Himself to Another Student (19-01762)
A high school physical education teacher exposed the area around his penis to an eleventh-grade female student when they were alone in a driver’s education trailer near the school. The teacher exposed his pubic hair and the area around his penis by repeatedly letting his sweatpants drop to the area of his pubic line. However, the teacher would immediately pull up his pants when other people walked by, further indicating that he was intentionally exposing himself to the student.
The student reported the incident to two other staff members within days of the occurrence, but both of them failed to notify the school’s administration as they were required to do as mandated reporters. Instead, the staff members made excuses for the teacher. One of them said that the conduct was probably unintentional and that he did not believe the teacher would sexually harass a student because he had a daughter of his own. The other staff member blamed the student for wearing provocative clothing, implying that she brought the problem on herself. Not only did the staff members fail to report the teacher’s misconduct as they were required to do, they tipped off the teacher about the student’s complaint.
Several of the student’s classmates also learned about the complaint and intimidated the student for coming forward. Frustrated over not being believed and by the failure of staff members to take appropriate steps, the student posted a comment on social media about the teacher exposing himself in the driver’s education trailer. One of the student’s classmates saw the post and came forward with her own allegations against the teacher. The classmate, who was 15 years old, alleged that the teacher connected with her on social media and sent her photos and videos of himself masturbating and engaged in other sexual acts. She produced several video clips to the OIG, which corroborated the allegations.
High School Teacher Groomed Multiple Students for Sex and Engaged in Sexual Acts with a Student at School (20-01013)
A high school substitute teacher engaged in a systematic pattern of grooming behaviors with female students. The teacher made intimate physical contact with students (including kisses, sexual hugs, and back-rubs), openly solicited sexual acts (such as asking a student to recruit another student for a “threesome”), harassed students with inappropriate comments (including asking about student’s sex lives, telling a student that he loved her, remarking on a student’s body, commenting on a student’s “hickey,” and calling himself “well hung”), had extensive personal communications with students on social media and by cell phone, and engaged in other common grooming techniques (such as giving a student unnecessary passes to exclude her from class, and encouraging students to confide in him about personal problems). This conduct began as early as 2015 and continued into the 2019-20 school year, when a former student reported the teacher’s conduct to the school principal.
Investigation of Systemic Sexual Misconduct at Military Academy (21-00003)
In April 2019, the OIG received complaints about two staff members alleged to have been engaged in sexual abuse of students at a military academy. However, the investigation quickly expanded, with new complaints coming in from anonymous sources, as well as additional allegations against other staff members that were made during interviews with students, graduates, teachers and other school staff. In the end, the investigation examined allegations related to 29 individuals.
The investigation substantiated allegations of violations of other CPS policies against 13 individuals: o 4 current and former staff members o The former principal o 4 teachers o 3 military instructors o 1 member of the school’s Board of Governors
The investigation found that three individuals engaged in sexual misconduct:
A teacher engaged in sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old student.
A second teacher engaged in a pattern of conduct with a different student that was sexually motivated with the intent to groom that student for sexual acts. However, the investigation did not determine whether the second staff member ever engaged in sexual act.
A military instructor made sexually-harassing comments to a twelfth-grade female student over the course of two years, making her uncomfortable. The staff member retaliated against that student when she reported the misconduct.
Other cases listed in the report include:
Teacher Sexually Touched CPS Student Between 1996 and 1999 (19-00655)
Former CPS Teacher Had Sexual Intercourse with a CPS Student 15 years Ago (19-00044)
High School Teacher Sexually Abused and Groomed Two Former Students (20-00461)
Charter Administrator Groomed a High School Student for Sexual Abuse (21-00195)
High School Teacher Groomed and Sexually Harassed Student, Frequently Messaged a Second Student, and Sexually Harassed Two Other Students Several Years Ago (19-00001)
Former Vendor Employee Sent a Nude Photo of Himself to a Student, Made Repeated, Unwelcome Requests to That Student (19-02099)
Out-of-Control Extra Pay Spending
Other findings included an out-of-control extra pay situation, stating in the report the OIG had identified $74 million in the 2021 calendar year such spending; a “five-year high.”
The OIG report said there were inadequate safeguards in place in the area of extra pay in the area of overtime which had jumped 74 percent in the last five years and that the overspending was likely to continue.
“Stipend spending alone over that time skyrocketed fourteenfold, a CPS OIG performance review found. This increase occurred amid what an OIG performance review determined was insufficient monitoring, incomplete written guidelines for obtaining and documenting Extra Pay, poor training, no warnings of penalties for guideline violations, repeated documentation errors and inadequate technological safeguards,” the OIG report states. “Additionally, CPS has already spent millions of its Covid-19 relief money on Extra Pay. With more than $1.5 billion more of such relief money expected over the next three school years, CPS needs to take better precautions in how it distributes Extra Pay.”
According to the report, 77% of CPS’ $1.49 billion in pandemic relief funding expenditures to date was spent on employee salaries and benefits.
The cheating and fraud in the extra pay areas are so bad, the OIG has recommended biometric systems for entering time and surveillance of Kronos Machines, the system used to enter time.
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