FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
CPS Office of Communications
CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools will launch an Office of Student Protections and Title IX, an unprecedented long-term commitment to ensure learning environments are free from sexual violence, harassment and discrimination. The 20-member team, which will be formed this summer and report to the CEO, will have a mandate to advocate for students and coordinate the district’s response to any allegation of abuse and was developed with Maggie Hickey, the former federal prosecutor and state inspector general overseeing a top-to-bottom review of the district’s policies and practices.
To ensure students are fully supported by the district, the Office of Student Protections and Title IX will be responsible for referring allegations of adult-on-student abuse to the Office of the Inspector General for investigation, overseeing investigations into allegations of student-on-student abuse, ensuring students are paired with an advocate immediately following an allegation, and providing students with resources for receiving long-term support.
“Chicago’s students deserve a school district that will fully protect them and advocate for their best interest at all times, which is why we are creating a robust new team to support students that is more comprehensive than anything else in the country,” said CPS CEO Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “By doing everything from guaranteeing student-on-student abuse allegations are handled properly to ensuring every member of the CPS community understands their role in recognizing, preventing, and responding to abuse, the Office of Student Protections will help ensure all students can safely access the high quality education they deserve.”
The launch of the Office of Student Protections and Title IX builds on the commitments made in the district’s comprehensive Plan of Action to better prevent and address sexual abuse. In addition to those steps, the district has also recently committed to re-checking the backgrounds of all adults who work in schools and launched a partnership with the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center to better train staff and support student victims.
Unprecedented Supports to Create a Safer and More Responsive School District
Working in conjunction with former Assistant U.S. Attorney and Illinois Executive Inspector General Maggie Hickey, who has been brought in to conduct a top-to-bottom review of district policies and procedures related to sexual abuse, CPS has identified several key areas that the new Office of Students Protections and Title IX will focus on to better support Chicago’s students. The new office’s efforts will focus on the following areas:
Investigations: The office will oversee the investigation of allegations of student-on-student sexual harassment, bullying, or abuse, in coordination with principals and law enforcement agencies, when appropriate. Trained investigators, who prioritize supporting the best interests of students to avoid retraumatization or harm, will oversee investigations.
Advocacy: The office will coordinate with internal and external partners to ensure student advocate services, counseling, and other supports are provided to students involved in sexual harassment, bullying or abuse.
Compliance: The office will ensure the district complies with Title IX, which protects students from discrimination in educational programs.
Training and Awareness: The office will ensure every member of the CPS community understands their role in recognizing, preventing, reporting and responding to sexual harassment, misconduct and abuse.
Policy and Prevention: The office will guarantee that district policies and practices provide clear steps that employees must take to protect victims of abuse and ensure incidents are reported to all necessary parties.
Data and Reporting: The office will collect and share information with the public and ensure appropriate notifications are made in all cases.
Multi-Team Structure to Support Students and Educators
In coordination with Ms. Hickey, CPS has developed a plan for a 20-member team, who will be led by a chief officer that reports directly to the CEO. The chief officer will oversee the following three teams, which will play a crucial role in supporting students for the foreseeable future:
Training and Compliance Team
The four-member Training and Compliance Team will be responsible for developing and coordinating training for all staff, students and parents related to all forms of sex discrimination, including harassment, bullying, or violence based on gender, gender identity and expression (real or perceived), and sexual orientation (real or perceived). The team will also be responsible for compiling and reporting data on incidents of sex discrimination and managing compliance efforts related to Title IX.
Title IX Coordination Team
The eight-member Title IX Coordination Team will be responsible for coordinating the response to all sexual harassment and abuse incidents where students are potential victims. Team members will be assigned to geographic school networks and be responsible for working with school leaders to ensure all allegations are handled in the best interests of the students involved.
The coordinator will be responsible for ensuring all elements of the district’s and the school’s response is completed, including pairing students with an advocate from an external agency when appropriate, linking the student with counseling or other medical supports, and notifying parents, law enforcement, DCFS and the school community. The team members will also ensure that students are given information about and support in acquiring long-term support services.
Title IX Investigations Team
Led by a Lead Title IX investigator, this seven-member team will be responsible for leading the investigations of the most serious student-on-student allegations of sexual abuse or violence.
Investigators will be trained on proper interview and investigative practices to ensure the best interests of all students are prioritized during investigations. When appropriate, investigators will coordinate with DCFS and law enforcement.
The roles in the Office of Student Protections and Title IX will be entirely new positions, and the office will not be built through a reorganization of existing CPS staff. Since establishing a new office of this size will be a considerable effort, CPS has asked its First Deputy General Counsel, Douglas Henning, to lead the effort to design and launch the office in time for the new school year. The anticipated budget for a fully staffed office will be approximately $3 million.
Plan of Action to Protect Chicago’s Children
Nothing is more important to Chicago Public Schools than the safety and wellbeing of our students, and to ensure CPS is doing everything possible to prevent abuse, the district has developed a comprehensive Plan of Action to protect Chicago’s children.
As CPS works to execute its Plan of Action, the district will be keeping parents updated on a regular basis through a new web page at CPS.edu/ProtectingStudents.
Most importantly, if you suspect abuse, please report it immediately to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services at 800-25-ABUSE.
Chicago Public Schools serves 371,000 students in 646 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.
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