CHICAGO — Six suburban families — including one from Indiana — got their kids into elite Chicago Public Schools, most by using fake addresses, a new report has found.
An annual report from the CPS Office of Inspector General released Thursday highlighted problems throughout the district, including: an elementary school teacher employed with the district despite previously fondling a minor, a music teacher mismanaging more than $13,000 that was raised for a school choir club and some of Chicago’s most affluent residents residents being given “priority access” to two years of free education at a Montessori school, among other things.
Among the findings: Eight kids from suburban Lincolnwood, Melrose Park, Cicero and Oak Lawn were attending selective-enrollment schools that are meant only for Chicago residents, according to the report. Most of the families used false Chicago addresses to get their kids into the schools, which included Northside College Prep and Lane Tech High School.
The students were barred from being able to attend selective-enrollment schools in the future and the district is trying to force their parents to pay it back for the time their kids were in CPS. That would mean parents have to pay $13,468 per student per year they were in CPS based on the 2017-18 non-resident tuition rate, according to the report.
And in a few cases, the parents of those children worked for CPS. The Office of the Inspector General recommended those parents be fired and a “do not hire” designation be added to their personnel files.
A family from Hammond, Ind., was also found to have been sending a child to a neighborhood school in Chicago for several years, according to the report. That child was prohibited from enrolling in a CPS school for the 2018-19 school year and can only re-enroll if he or she becomes a Chicago resident; the district is also pursuing non-resident tuition from that family.
Another investigation found CPS hired an elementary school teacher who allegedly fondled and made “sexual overtures” to a 13-year-old while teaching in another district, according to the report. During the investigation, the Office of the Inspector General learned the teacher had also “discussed sexual subject matter” with a 16-year-old and met up with the teen in a car where the teacher rubbed the boy’s arm, leg and ear, according to the report.
The teacher had been convicted of battery in the case involving the 16-year-old, according to the report, and he told CPS about the conviction when the district hired him in 2003. But CPS didn’t turn up the conviction or the teacher’s history in a criminal background check when hiring him.
The teacher resigned and surrendered his teaching license after the Office of Inspector General concluded its investigation, according to the report.
Another teacher also resigned during an investigation. The teacher had started a GoFundMe campaign so the school choir club could make trips to Los Angeles to appear on a TV show, but the more than $8,000 that was raised went directly to the teacher’s checking account and it became difficult to track how the money was spent, according to the report.
The teacher also “mismanaged at least $5,025” the choir had been given to performances and told investigators he kept some of that money from the school, according to the report.
And in the attendance area for Lincoln Park’s Oscar Mayer Magnet School, which is the most affluent in the district, families received a special perk: They were given priority access to “two years of free, full-day Montessori pre-kindergarten,” according to the report. About one-third of the 3-year-old children who took advantage of the perk left CPS by the first grade, with some going “on to pricey private schools,” including Catholic and suburban schools.
The schooling would have cost more than $3o,ooo in the private market, per the report, and the unique perk costs Chicago’s taxpayers more than $700,000 a year.
The Officer of the Inspector General advised CPS to stop offering the perk to that affluent area.
Read the full report here: