The Chicago Board of Education’s Office of Inspector General published its Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report on January 1, 2023. It details allegations of widespread sexual abuse in Chicago Public Schools (CPS), massive corruption, fraud, and other disturbing findings.
The report states that CPS has received $2.8 billion from federal pandemic relief funds. CPS has spent almost 50 percent of the $1.49 billion it received in federal pandemic relief funds to date. “77%” of CPS’s $1.49 Billion in pandemic relief funding spending has been made on employee benefits and salaries.
CPS staff have received a large portion of this money in the form of “Extra Pay” which amounts to 17 percent more than the 2019 pre-pandemic year. The average teacher’s annual salary increased by 74% over five years. However, Extra Pay has risen 74 percent in five years.
Furthermore, the systemwide “pre-pandemic” and “post-pandemic Stipend spendings more than tripled from $8.5 million in 2019 to $28.9 million in 2021.
This report also documents fraud through “buddy punching,” which is where CPS employees would clock in and out for their colleagues. One case showed that a CPS employee made more than $150,000 in extra pay over four years, even though video evidence revealed that the employee gambled in casinos and was paid for it.
CPS has a history of misusing funds. However, CPS took this to a whole different level after receiving almost $3 billion in emergency funds. These funds were meant to be used to reopen schools following the pandemic.
CPS also discovered disturbing allegations about extensive student-on-student sexual abuse. According to the report, 1,733 cases have been investigated by the OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit. SAU has opened 477 potential cases of sexual abuse allegations in 2022. More than 300 cases of CPS-adult-on-student abuse have been confirmed by the SAU since 2018. Surprisingly, only 16 cases of CPS abuse by adult-on-student sexual abuse have led to criminal charges.
The report also highlights the fact that CPS has a problem mislabeling truant students as transfer students. The OIG launched five investigations into the ongoing problem in 2014. However, the problem continues to persist. The OIG discovered “extensive evidence”, in 2022 that schools across the district had repeatedly identified students who dropped out of school as transferees, despite this being against state law and CPS policy.
The report states that “we have not been able or seen any evidence that CPS has taken adequate corrective action even though these audits show that schools are not complying with what they should be doing to verify transfer or missing students.”
The mislabeling allegations are not as serious as the fraud and sexual abuse allegations. However, this is important because these students will not be able to re-register once they have been coded for a transfer. Data shows that there has been a significant drop in student attendance in the district since CPS shut down schools for in-person learning in the wake of the pandemic. CPS has not “addressed the improper use leave codes and documentation of transfers or dropouts” as far as we are aware. This is why hundreds of thousands, if certainly not thousands, of students have fallen off its radar.
CPS has not been plagued by the same problems in private schools in the recent past. The overwhelming majority of Chicago’s private and charter schools maintained in-person learning even though they did not receive any federal pandemic relief funds. There have been no shocking reports about sexual abuse allegations in Chicago’s non-public schools. Not to be overlooked is the fact that Chicago’s charter and private schools have not been accused in any way of labeling students as transfers to cover up the fact that they dropped out.
This report may convince more Chicago parents to choose school choice over the corrupt Chicago Public Schools system. CPS has the responsibility of educating over 350,000 students annually, but it has proven itself incapable of providing safe and secure education for these students.
This report with all its outrageous claims will not make Chicago a center for school choice. Students will continue to be robbed and destroyed by adults.