CPS announced it would open a new 20-person, $3M department to respond to sexual abuse allegations right before the BOE meeting Wednesday. Unfortunately, this came as a surprise to the Inspector General who is supposed to be working in partnership with CPS on this issue. It’s also concerning that the legal department is in charge of launching this department, given the recent revelations that their department was routinely interrogating student victims of sexual abuse without a parent present.
RYH spoke at the CPS BOE meeting and called out Board President Frank Clark and his predecessors, who oversee the law department at CPS, for not acting to improve protocols and procedures after receiving notice of many complaints. The General Counsel reports to the CPS Board President, as CPS shared at the IL House and Senate joint hearing last week. So while the CEO is taking full responsibility for this, it’s the Board President who is responsible according to the CPS orgrganizational chart. The Sun-Times report from the BOE included this quote from RYH’s Jennie:
“We know and knew that appointed boards have an inherent conflict in that you end up working to preserve and protect the image of the person who appointed you above and beyond all else,” Jennie Biggs said. “You hold the keys to district policy-making, and you did not act. You did not do your jobs. You did not ensure schools were being trained and you should step down and admit you are part of a flawed system of school governance that has no checks and balances.”
You can read the full BOE statement from Jennie Biggs on behalf of RYH here.
Chalkbeat Chicago: Questions about sexual abuse cases squeeze top of CPS org chart
Chicago Tribune: New office to oversee sexual abuse cases in Chicago Public Schools
Cassie Creswell of RYH Action (RYHA) also spoke at the Board meeting about the recent data breach. RYHA board member & LSC member, Samay Gheewala, also spoke about PreK concerns at his school. You can read both their statements here.
Other parents spoke before the BOE meeting as RYHA did an action around the need for an elected school board. One parent spoke about serious nursing issues at her 5 year old’s school. You can read her statement here.
Janus decision drops an hour before the BOE meeting
We also spoke briefly at a press conference about the Janus decision right before the BOE meeting. In the Janus vs AFSCME case, the Supreme Court overturned a 40 year ruling which required workers who opt out of unions to still pay some fee for benefits that they receive despite opting out. This case was originally pushed by Governor Rauner and other anti-union allies, and was then passed on to an individual worker, Mark Janus, who was the plaintiff because the Court ruled Rauner could not be a plaintiff as he was not directly impacted.
RYHA’s co-director Wendy Katten said at the press conference “An attack on unions is an attack on our children’s future.” RYH supports our teachers and we support unions.
ISBE hires a sped monitor
As a result of the special ed inquiry, the state hired a monitor who will be starting on July 2. RYH is part of a coalition of advocates who pushed for the inquiry and for the independent monitor. The Advocates have some concerns that the person hired is a former sped attorney who worked at CPS as recently as 2016 when the procedural manual designed to delay and deny services was implemented. That said, the group will work with the new monitor in hopes that she can be independent and act as an advocate for students.
IL Gets an ‘F’ on new report grading states on their commitment to public education
The Schott Foundation and The Network for Public Education put out a new report grading states on their democratic commitment to public schools. 17 states got Fs on this report and, not surprisingly, IL was one of them.
Overall Grade: F
Privatization by Charters: F
Privatization by Vouchers: D+
In other news
Chalkbeat Chicago: Digging deeper into CPS’s background check policy
New York Times: A Shadow System Feeds Segregation in New York City Schools