The Inspector General for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) says his office should be in charge of independently investigating allegations of sexual misconduct among employees instead of the district's law department.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the recommendation from Inspector General Nicholas Schuler comes after a series of articles in the newspaper spelling out the school system's mishandling of cases involving employees accused of sexually abusing students.
Schuler has asked Chicago School Board President Frank Clark to end a practice in which district lawyers investigate abuse allegations and then draw on those investigative files to defend the school system if a victim sues.
“The CPS law department simply cannot get to the bottom of all sexual misconduct allegations against CPS employees while simultaneously having the job of defending CPS against lawsuits by victims of those very same crimes,” Schuler wrote in a letter to top school officials.
"That morass of competing interests makes it impossible to tell whether the law department is working for student victims or trying to limit the district’s legal exposure.”
The district has defended the law department’s dual roles as an appropriate and typical practice. In New York City schools, by contrast, wrongdoing by school employees is investigated by a city inspector general squad that operates independently of the school system.
The Tribune has reported that the Chicago school system does not have a standard protocol for investigating reports of sexual misconduct. It found that the district's law department had investigated 430 reports that since 2011, CPS employees had sexually abused, assaulted or harassed students.
In 230 of these cases, investigators found credible evidence of misconduct, the district said. But the district has revealed nothing about what happened in those incidents or which schools were involved.