weather icon Clear

Chicago schools handling of sex abuse claims ‘tragic,’ says feds

CHICAGO — Federal education officials on Thursday called Chicago Public Schools’ handling of sexual abuse complaints “tragic and inexcusable” and outlined corrective steps after a systemic investigation of the nation’s third-largest school district.

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights called its investigation — sparked by student complaints — the most comprehensive of any major urban school district. Federal officials said they found violations of Title IX, which is a federal law designed to protect students from abuse, harassment and gender-based discrimination.

Under the resolution that the district agreed to, Chicago Public Schools must have a second independent review of complaints, review the actions of current and former employees and change the district’s Title IX procedures, among other things,

“We cannot permit this to recur in Chicago or anywhere else,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus.

District acknowledges issues

The district acknowledged that students didn’t get “the comprehensive support they deserved,” in a letter sent to families Thursday. District officials outlined steps that have already been taken, including forming a new office to handle complaints.

“While we have made significant progress, we will not be satisfied until I and every CPS parent believes we have created a safe and supportive district culture,” said district CEO Janice Jackson.

The district has been under scrutiny for its handling of sex abuse cases for years.

In 2018, federal education officials took the unusual step of withholding $4 million in federal grant money citing district failure to provide records on reports of sexual violence against students.

After a Chicago Tribune series that same year, the district created a new agency to handle allegations. That agency received over 600 reports of sexual violence year, with nearly 500 of them involving student-on-student violence.

The federal investigation initially involved four complaints. Three involved student-on-student sexual violence. A fourth stems from a 2015 complaint of a high school sophomore who alleged her teacher got her drunk and abused her in his car.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
House Democrats move to lower drug prices

House Democrats unveiled a bill to control the costs of prescription drugs, but Republicans criticized it as the first step in nationalizing the pharmaceutical industry.

Gun negotiations going ‘very slowly’ says Trump

President Donald Trump is pouring cold water on prospects for a bipartisan compromise on gun legislation, even as his aides circulate a draft plan on Capitol Hill.

Both sides seek unity after vote shows deep Israeli divisions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, on Thursday each called for the formation of a unity government following Israel’s inconclusive national election. But with both men demanding to be prime minister, there were no signs they could break the deadlock.

Canada’s Trudeau tries to contain furor over brownface photo from 2001

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s campaign moved to contain a growing furor Thursday after a yearbook photo surfaced of him in brownface at a 2001 “Arabian Nights” costume party and two other similar incidents came to light.

Whistleblower complaint may involve Trump, says House intel chairman

President Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence is refusing to turn over to Congress an urgent whistleblower complaint that reportedly concerns Trump making an unspecified promise to a foreign leader, the chairman of the House intelligence committee said Thursday.

Imelda draws comparisons to Harvey; 1K plus rescued overnight

The remnants of Tropical Depression Imelda unleashed torrential rain Thursday in parts of Texas, prompting hundreds of water rescues, a hospital evacuation and road closures as the powerful storm system drew comparisons to Hurricane Harvey two years ago.

Suicide bomb at Afghanistan hospital kills 20, says governor

A powerful suicide truck bomb devastated a hospital in southern Afghanistan early Thursday morning, killing 20 people and wounding 97 others, according to the province’s governor, while a deadly drone strike in the country’s east was blamed on U.S. forces.