CPS Teacher Removed Pending Investigation Following Allegations of Misconduct In Drama Club

Students in the Jones College Prep Drama Club allege their teacher used racist, homophobic language and selected an inappropriate fall play

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An investigation is underway at William Jones College Preparatory High School following allegations of misconduct.

Students in the drama club say their teacher made racist and homophobic comments and selected an inappropriate fall play, then refused to make changes when students expressed concerns.

"The play in question had some jokes making fun of rape victims and also some very stereotypical jabs at people of color, specifically Black people," said Mila Mussatt, a senior at Jones Prep.

"People were coming to me very upset, very uncomfortable, being like, 'Hey, I don’t think I can do this if this is the show we are doing.'"

"We brought it to him, and he got very upset with us and canceled the show," said Mullatt, the president of the drama club.

In a letter to the school community, provided to NBC 5, Jones Prep confirms the fall play, "The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged) (Revised)," a satire previously produced at Jones, was cancelled due to "what could be described as creative differences around changes to the script and its consent."

However, multiple students from the drama club confirmed to NBC 5 the letter did not address deeper concerns of misconduct.

"He's been racist and homophobic toward students," said Mike Devlin, a junior.

"They should have fired him a long time ago," said Leah Williams, a first-year drama student.

"He’s had a history of being like this. Kids have always been complaining about him."

NBC 5 is not naming the teacher in question.

Drama students voiced their concerns in a letter to the administration. That letter was read in part on Oct. 12 during a local school council meeting, which is broadcast on YouTube and open to the public.

"The termination of the show was not because of creative differences," the letter reads in part.

"The play was canceled because the teacher could not handle constructive criticism coming from an emotional cast and crew who felt it morally unjust to continue how he was directing."

Cassie Creswell is a parent representative on that council. She says this incident is extremely concerning and the council's role is to address and find solutions for reports of misconduct.

"Looking at the overall harm the students in the program have felt, that is something we should make sure the school is addressing to the extent our oversight as a local school council can be exercised," said Creswell.

"We have a responsibility to, as essentially whistleblowers, to report violations."

On Oct. 16, Chance the Rapper retweeted a parent's concern over the drama club allegations. That tweet says in part, "The BIPOC students at Jones College Prep are experiencing racist, demeaning and abusive behavior by their drama teacher."

Then, on Monday, Chicago Public Schools confirmed to NBC 5, "The Office of Student Protections and Title IX has opened an investigation into allegations of misconduct at William Jones College Preparatory High School and an employee has been removed during the investigation."

Mussat says the removal and investigation is a step in the right direction, but she wants student concerns taken seriously, sooner, in the future. She hopes a fair investigation is conducted but says she and others wouldn't feel safe returning to a classroom under this teacher's leadership.

"It is unacceptable to keep that person in a position of power over us and to continue to cultivate an environment where we are afraid to do something we love," said Mussat.

The drama club is now putting on a student-led performance of another show, "Halloween 101: Failing Could Be Deadly." The performance will take place at Jones Prep Oct. 28-30.

Chicago Public Schools says this situation remains under investigation.

NBC 5 has reached out to the teacher in question but has not received a response.

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