Preliminary report on alleged sex abuse in CPS released

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Public Schools need to make substantial changes following revelations of sex abuse by CPS employees.

Friday a number of recommendations were made to make sure this doesn't happen again.

The reports were shocking-- 500 cases of alleged sexual assault and abuse in CPS schools over the last ten years detailed by the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson says the report was hard to hear, but necessary. She says big changes are on the way.

"What I feel good about is that we have acknowledged this is an issue, that we have a plan of action and the recommendations today are just more concrete steps," Dr. Janice Jackson, CPS CEO said.

Those steps come from recommendations in a comprehensive report by former Illinois Inspector General Maggie Hickey. Among the recommendations, in the future all adult-on-student cases will be referred to CPS Inspector General. Additionally, the board will create an Office of Student Protection. All employees, vendors and volunteers will have new background checks and there will be increased training and accountability for CPS employees. The board also plans an awareness campaign including posting signs throughout school buildings.

Some of the initiatives will be costly for the cash-strapped district.

"You can't put a dollar sign on protecting students," Jackson said.

Critics however say while the plan offers some solid suggestions more is needed.

"If there's not systems in place to make sure that these suggestions are actually brought to fruition," said Jennie Biggs with Raise Your Hand for Illinois Education.

The schools' CEO says solving problem will take time.

"This is a complex issue and by no means is it something you can fix overnight," Jackson said.

The head of the Chicago Teachers Union issued a statement blaming Mayor Emanuel for the sex abuse scandal. They say he has cut social workers and counselors and others who would have been best equipped to identify and train others about sex abuse in the schools.

The report released Friday is preliminary. The final version is expected next spring.
Copyright © 2022 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.