Students Head Back to Chicago Public Schools for New Academic Year

Summer is officially over for thousands of Chicago Public Schools students and employees, who return to the classroom Tuesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel was scheduled to kick off the first day back to school at Perez Elementary on the city's Southwest Side, joined by the district's Chief Education Officer LaTanya McDade.

Emanuel and CPS officials said they're starting the 2018-2019 school year on a positive note, announcing a new record-high graduation rate on Monday.

His office said 78.2 percent of students earned a diploma last year, up from 50 percent seven years ago.

Although Tuesday marked the first day back to school in Chicago, not all CPS employees were slated to return to work.

More than 260 district employees will not be going back to school Tuesday as a result of background checks conducted in the wake of misconduct and abuse allegations.

Some of those background checks were still being evaluated as of Tuesday, with a quarter of those not yet cleared to return being teachers.

But CPS officials said every school would be ready to welcome students back, with nearly 98 percent of the district's employees returning to work on time.

"If you entrust your kids to CPS, we owe them a start of the school year knowing that we went through everybody," Emanuel said at a news conference Monday.

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