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Chicago district has fired 23 accused of sexual misconduct

A report from the district's Office of Inspector General says it received 458 sexual misconduct complaints in the last 9 months.

The Chicago public school system has fired 23 employees and barred 15 substitute teachers from working in schools in the last nine months as a result of sexual misconduct allegations, the district's inspector general says.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the Office of Inspector General presented a report to the school board about the 458 sexual misconduct allegations the office has received between October 2018 and June 2019: The vast majority relate to “leering, ‘creepy’ or other concerning behavior by a staff member, contractor or volunteer."

But nearly 20% of the claims involved penetration, groping or other sexual contact, and 10 adults affiliated with the district have been charged criminally with sexual assault, sexual abuse or indecent solicitation of a minor, the report says.

About two-thirds of the cases remain active, but of the 160 investigations completed by the inspector general’s office, a large majority — 116 — were not substantiated, the report says. Of the 44 substantiated cases, most were what the office deemed nonsexual policy violations “such as improper electronic communication and other unprofessional or inappropriate conduct.”

The report raised a particular concern about security guards, noting that almost 4% of all security guards were the subjects of complaints between Oct. 1 and June 30—the highest rate of any workforce group.

“There certainly is a concentration of allegations regarding security guards,” Inspector General Nicholas Schuler told the school board.

By contrast, about 1% of all teachers were the subjects of a complaint, according to the report.

Overall, 229 cases were at the high school level and 225 involved elementary school, but because there are so many more elementary students, the allegation rate is about 2.5 times higher among high school students.

Schuler says it’s been a challenge to close “very time-intensive” investigations at the rate they’re coming in. “We are continuing to make a dent.”

Besides teachers and security guards, 39 complaints involved outside vendors, 29 were about special education classroom assistants and 27 targeted substitute teachers, according to the report. An additional 15 cases involved principals or assistant principals, and nine were against bus personnel, the report says.

Of 97 adults pulled from schools pending investigations, 11 have been reinstated. Thirteen other employees under investigation retired or resigned, and 23 employees were fired, according to the inspector general.

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