Instances of abuse continue despite the Chicago Tribune’s exposure in 2018 of the school district’s sexual abuse crisis, when the newspaper found police had investigated more than 520 cases of juvenile sexual assault and abuse in Chicago’s public schools between 2008 and 2017.
Some things have improved since the Trib's publication, like the passage of Faith’s Law and the creation of the OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit, but until CPS is subject to massive outside scrutiny and public outcry – much like the Catholic Church rightfully received for its own abuse scandals – count on cases of abuse to continue.
A lack of management and accountability
The problem at CPS is a lack of control and oversight, something the OIG office openly admits:
“Among cases closed by the agency’s general investigations unit from July 2022 through June 2023, Inspector General Will Fletcher said there’s a consistent theme: ‘Where you find vulnerabilities in management controls (and) exercising oversight — you will find fraud.’”
Those same vulnerabilities allow for continued instances of sexual abuse.
What’s worse, sexual abuse is harder to detect than "lost" laptops or stolen funds. There’s nothing “missing” for a manager to notice. The prevalence of texting and video also makes abuse easier to perpetrate and harder to detect.
There are also likely many cases that go unreported and undiscovered due to shame or fear of retribution. That was certainly the case for the Catholic Church, which saw most accusations take years or decades to emerge.
And then there’s the CTU and its collective bargaining agreement. Their “myriad” and “tedious” rules are more about protecting the union and its members than they are about protecting children.
In sum, the deck is already stacked against parents and their children when it comes to abuse. The system’s continued mismanagement only makes things worse.
The Chicago Tribune’s “Betrayed” series should have opened the door to massive changes and extreme transparency. It should have spurred the creation of policies mirroring the Catholic Church’s own reforms, including:
- A strict “one strike and you’re out” zero tolerance policy, as established in the Church’s Dallas Charter.
- Removal of accused employees from school until an investigation is completed.
- A public and easily accessible website that lists all offenders, their histories and their whereabouts, so these teachers don’t become tutors or get hired by another school system.
- A rigorous screening process obsessed with a hiree’s character.
- Robust and mandatory “safe environment” training for all employees and vendors.
And it should have spurred State Attorney General Kwame Raoul to open an investigation of his own.
Instead, Raoul’s office dedicated itself to a multi-year reinvestigation of the Catholic Archdiocese, decades after the Church’s strict controls and safety processes had already been put in place.
That CPS is such a poor steward of taxpayer dollars is bad enough, but the failure to catch fraud and theft pales in comparison to the continual harm done to Chicago’s children. Not only are a vast number pushed out of the system without the basic skills they need to succeed in life, but some also end up victims of sexual abuse.
It’s a sad reminder of how inept, corrupt and morally bankrupt CPS really is.