We at RYH were horrified, saddened and infuriated when we learned of the Chicago Tribune report that came out today about rampant cases of sexual abuse and assault of students at CPS over the past decade.
This story really surprised our staff and knocked the wind out of us. We have attended almost every Board of Education meeting for eight years, and we know of the CPS culture of not addressing systemic issues. But we had no idea that this was one such issue, and we are heartbroken. The students who spoke to the Tribune about this are brave and we commend them for sharing their stories.
Our social media networks have been blowing up with reactions from parents who are angry that there was no standard protocol in place for students or schools to report cases of abuse or for families to be notified if arrests were made at their schools, and that it took a newspaper investigation for CPS to say they are going to systemically address their failings about this. According to the article, “After the Tribune threatened to file a lawsuit to force public disclosure of basic CPS documents and data related to sexual misconduct, the district acknowledged that its Law Department had investigated 430 reports that school employees had sexually abused, assaulted or harassed students since 2011.”
Parents often get a notice in their backpack if a child has lice at a school, but CPS has no policy in place to notify parents even after a CPS employee has been arrested for sexual abuse or assault at a school. One parent commented that she learned of five instances at her school from the Trib report but never heard a whisper of it at her school. Lack of notification is unacceptable, and the district should be ashamed for sweeping all these hundreds of incidents under the rug and not creating policies that put our children’s safety first.
Our hearts go out to the students and victims as well as their families who went through this at CPS, and our work will continue next week to push for policies that put children first and that ensure better accountability and transparency in this district.