CHICAGO – In response to the Chicago Tribune’s disturbing reports of sexual abuse at several Chicago Public Schools (CPS), state Rep. John D’Amico, D-Chicago, is backing stronger measures to protect Illinois students from predatory school professionals and ensure student accusations are not ignored.
“As a father of three, the Chicago Tribune’s reports hit home,” D’Amico said. “I refuse to stand by and allow predators to continue to take advantage of CPS’ inability to protect students.”
The Chicago Tribune investigation, titled “Betrayed,” outlined the district’s broken processes that failed to protect students from abuse. According to the Tribune, CPS conducted faulty backgrounds checks, or no background checks at all on school personnel. CPS also ignored credible accusations from students sexually assaulted by school personnel. In addition, CPS keeps little data on sexual assaults within their schools.
The D’Amico-backed House Bill 5914 would address the perverse culture that allowed sexual assaults to occur at CPS. The legislation requires the Illinois State Board of Education to monitor all background checks conducted by a school district to ensure they are completed in a timely fashion. The legislation would also allow a school district to share investigative findings on sexual assault and harassment with other school districts to prevent teachers found to have assaulted or harassed students from simply changing schools. In addition, D’Amico’s legislation would close the loophole in Illinois law that currently allows a teacher to have a consensual sexual relationship with a student over the age of 17.
“Students, parents and the community deserve peace of mind that their school is a safe place and its employees only want the best for students,” D’Amico continued. “We now know that tougher laws are required to find and expel the predators.”