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Chicago district will create office to oversee sexual abuse cases

Formation of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX comes after newspaper probe revealed shortcomings in the district's handling of sexual misconduct.

The Chicago school district says it is launching an internal clearinghouse to address sex abuse allegations.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the 20-person operation will be called the Office of Student Protections and Title IX. It is the district's latest response to fallout from a Tribune investigation that documented lapses in the school system’s response to sexual abuse allegations.

The group will forward allegations of adult-on-student misconduct to a newly empowered inspector general, conduct its own investigations into student-on-student abuse allegations, and ensure the district complies with Title IX provisions that bar sex discrimination in federally funded education programs.

The new office was developed with Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor and state inspector general who is overseeing a top-to-bottom review of the Chicago district’s policies and practices, the district says in a news release.

“Chicago’s students deserve a school district that will fully protect them and advocate for their best interest at all times, which is why we are creating a robust new team to support students that is more comprehensive than anything else in the country,” says Chicago Schools CEO Janice K. Jackson.

The district’s new office will feature a four-person team responsible for training parents, staff and students on harassment, bullying, gender-based violence and sexual orientation.

Eight other staffers will coordinate the district’s response to sexual harassment and abuse incidents in which students are potential victims, connect victims with support services, plus notify law enforcement and child welfare investigators.

Another team will investigate what the district described as “the most serious” student-on-student allegations of sexual abuse or violence.

Earlier this week, district administrators removed two high school principals from their duties pending an ongoing investigation into how they handled sexual abuse allegations at their schools.

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