New Report Finds Employees Listed as ‘Do Not Hire' Working With Children at Chicago Schools

Dozens of current and former Chicago Public Schools employees deemed “not eligible” to work with children, some due to allegations of sexual or physical abuse, have somehow managed to be hired at district charter and contract schools, according to a new report from the inspector general’s office.

The report, released Tuesday, revealed more than 160 employees listed as “do not hire” somehow wound up in Chicago schools – many of them teaching.

According to the report, as of December 2016, 163 “do not hire” employees were working at CPS charter or contract schools.

Three of those “do not hire” cases involved employees accused of sexual abuse and 22 cases cited physical abuse. The three alleged sex abusers in the most critical cases have since been let go, officials said.

“The charter and contract schools apparently did not know that they were hiring employees who had been given DNH designations by CPS, because there was no system in place by which charter or contract schools could learn whether their employees or prospective employees had received those designations,” the report states.

The investigation was sparked in June 2016, when the inspector general’s office reported two former CPS employees, who had resigned in wake of earlier investigations by their office and were deemed “do not hire,” had somehow obtained positions at CPS charter or contract schools.

That led to a wider review, which found numerous “serious” cases that needed “immediate attention,” the report states.

One of those cases included a CPS elementary school teacher who was fired for allegedly sexually abusing two students at his home and inappropriately touching a third student during class. That teacher went on to work at a charter school in Chicago, according to the report. CPS said the teacher was reported to the Illinois Board of Education for "child abuse" but it remains unclear why his teaching license wasn’t revoked.

Another employee was fired from CPS for alleged sexual abuse after accusations the employee had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. The teacher reportedly presented a charter school with expungement paperwork before he was hired, but was ultimately removed from the school pending the outcome of a second investigation after the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services “indicated a finding against the employee for a more recent act of misconduct against a minor,” the report states.

A third employee listed as “do not hire” for accusations of sexual abuse resigned from CPS after allegations he hugged a student and made “explicit sexual advances towards the student.” That teacher was found to be working in a classroom at a charter school for the 2016-17 school year, but has since been “released” by the school, according to the report.

The Chicago Board of Education told the inspector general’s office it was “working to establish a broader method by which charter and contract schools will be able to receive DNH information from CPS.”

In a letter to its charter and contract school operators, CPS said it would be sending a "standard agreement" to schools requiring them to use CPS to conduct background checks and "allow CPS to adjudicate the results with the same process it uses for its own employees."

While the district plans to work with legislators to "amend statute" and require all schools to comply with that agreement, the district said it will for now release the names of any schools that don't sign up by the end of next month. 

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