Author Juan Perez Jr. and David Jackson
Broad failures at all levels of Chicago Public Schools kept officials from preventing and responding to sexual abuse suffered by students in the nation’s third-largest school system, according to a prominent law firm’s early review of problems documented this summer in a Tribune investigation.
The report by the law firm Schiff Hardin identified repeated “systemic deficiencies” in training, incident reporting, data collection and trend tracking that pervaded city schools, the system’s downtown headquarters and a school board controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Employees were not consistently trained on district policies and procedures involving sexual misconduct, according to the report authored by Schiff Hardin partner Maggie Hickey and released Friday. CPS also did not ensure that those policies were being implemented or that they were effective, the report said.
The report describes how understaffed and underfunded CPS investigators struggled to process reports of potential sexual harassment, notifications sent to the Department of Children and Family Services, employee misconduct allegations and altercations between students and staff — thousands of reports during the 2016-17 school year alone.
Hickey noted that the district’s incident-reporting software, known as Verify, “is almost universally viewed by principals as cumbersome and inefficient.” CPS is moving to a new system next year, the report said.
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