A report released Thursday by the United States Department of Education excoriated the Chicago Public School system for failing to protect children from sexual abuse over the course of many years. The department also ordered Chicago Public Schools to implement a new plan to address those allegations in a document that read like a well-deserved public flogging.
The report complained that investigators found evidence of "widespread" failure to properly investigate reports of sexual abuse lodged by children and employees.
Local media in Chicago have chronicled the troubling extent of sexual assault in Chicago Public Schools for years, as well as the failure of school district authorities to properly respond to those complaints. Federal authorities began to investigate those complaints under Title IX in 2015 when it received two separate complaints that the district was not properly investigating complaints levied against teachers and against students for sexual assault.
As part of the investigation, the Department of Education evaluated the school district's response to 2,800 complaints of student-on-student sexual assault, and 280 complaints of adult-on-student sexual assault. In announcing the findings of the investigation, Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Kenneth Marcus said, among other things, that Chicago Public Schools' response to those complaints was "inadequate, unreliable and often conducted by untrained staff," and that Chicago's overall response to those complaints was "tragic and inexcusable."
In responding to the report, Chicago Public Schools chief executive Janice K. Jackson struck a note of humility, saying, "These were tragic incidents in which some students did not receive the comprehensive support they deserved... As a district, we have been working to ensure no student ever goes through that again."
Chicago's Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot, however, seemed to suggest that the report was some sort of political stunt orchestrated by the Trump administration, telling WBBM-TV that she believed the Trump administration enjoyed "teeing off" against the city of Chicago, and further stating, "I take some of those comments with a grain of salt considering the source." She did not mention that the investigation was begun and partially conducted during the Obama administration.
Lightfoot has also been embroiled in a public Twitter spat with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) about gun violence over the last week.
As part of the agreed-upon plan, Chicago Public Schools was required to provide a second independent review of all complaints, improve training of sexual assault investigators, and change their complaint review process to achieve compliance with Title IX requirements.