State Representative Steve Reick (R-Woodstock), who serves on the House of Representatives’ K-12 Curriculum and Policies Committee, is demanding hearings into information made public over the weekend that involves multiple cases of sexual violence against students in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system.
“The Tribune’s investigative report was difficult to read. It made me sick to my stomach,” said Reick. “The parents of these students send their kids to school believing the adults in the buildings will keep them safe. Instead, we’re learning that some students were groped and even raped, while school leaders tried to hide systemic instances of abuse. It’s a betrayal of the highest level, and the members of the General Assembly deserve some answers.”
Reick pointed to a Chicago Tribune report published on June 3 that unveiled sexual abuse in CPS through an examination of crime data between 2008 and 2017. The investigative report outlined how ineffective background checks, sloppy oversight and blatant efforts to hide instances of sexual abuse led to ongoing acts of sexual violence against students. According to the Tribune, police investigated 523 reports of children claiming to be sexually assaulted or abused inside CPS buildings between 2008-2017.
“It is clear that CPS has done very little to address these crimes against children,” Reick said. “It appears there are adult predators in positions of authority in CPS schools and in some cases teachers and principals failed to alert child welfare investigators the moment a situation was reported. Failure to report is a criminal offense.”
According to Reick, the Tribune uncovered several instances where individuals working within the CPS system who were accused of abuse had prior arrests related to alleged sexual offenses involving children, or other arrests that should have disqualified them for employment or volunteer work within CPS.
“The negligence shown by CPS cannot be allowed to continue. Since it is clear that CPS did not take adequate steps to change this sickening culture in the schools, the General Assembly will,” added Reick. “The Tribune reported only on the instances of abuse they uncovered through police reports. I have to wonder how many students also suffered, or continue to suffer, abuse within the walls of CPS but have not come forward. Sweeping changes need to occur in order to change this culture where predators are allowed access to students during the school day, and public hearings before the General Assembly’s Education Committee are a good start.”