The unit was formed after the Chicago Tribune published stories documenting the mishandling of sexual assault misconduct allegations. The city’s report said the school system’s legal department had been handling the cases, creating a conflict of interest because that department also defended the district against lawsuits by victims of the same crimes.
In 2018, the Board of Education approved Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s proposal to have his office investigate such matters, and the Sexual Allegations Unit began operating in October 2018.
The report released Monday said that of the 458 cases opened, investigators completed 136 reviews. Of those cases, 34 were substantiated, while the other 102 cases could not be substantiated.
The rest of the cases remain open.
In two cases, investigators substantiated allegations that resulted in criminal charges.
In one, an employee of a vendor who worked with students at an elementary school was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct repeatedly, the report said. He was arrested and indicted on five counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and three counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child; his case is pending.
In the second case, a school bus aide touched a high school student inappropriately and made a sexual comment about her body. This aide, the report said, was charged with misdemeanor battery; his case is also pending.
Other investigations into sex abuse allegations focused on a principal accused of having nonconsensual sex with a teacher; the principal refused to cooperate with the investigation and resigned. The Illinois State Board of Education has opened an investigation into the principal.
The inspector general’s report, which covered July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019, also found:
- Numerous probes into district employees who understated their income to obtain free prekindergarten services for their children.
- A performance review that concluded the school system failed to collect up to $2 million in prekindergarten payments “due to a variety of factors, including mismanagement, lax debt collection, poor oversight of the district’s tuition collection arrangement with a vendor and pre-K application fraud.”
- An investigation of a high school swim coach who misappropriated $30,000 from his school by renting out the school’s pool and keeping the payments.