A new office intended to better protect Chicago students from sexual-related abuse in schools said more than 600 cases have been reported so far this school year. File Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A new office created specifically to address sex abuse claims in Chicago schools says it's received more than 600 reports since it opened in September.
Officials from Chicago Public Schools were scolded by city councilors Wednesday allowing such complaints -- some dating back several years -- to go unanswered and for not being prepared to address the new reports.
Of the 624 complaints made this school year, 133 accused adults.
"How did these kids fall through the cracks, who dropped the ball?" Chicago alderman Sue Sadlowski Garza, a former school counselor, said at Wednesday's meeting, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. "That's the question.
"You guys are forming all these new offices and all these new things. Fund a counselor and a social worker in every school. That's what CPS needs to do. Not open another office."
Chicago Public Schools opened the 16-member Office of Student Protections and Title IX in September for $3 million to better protect students from harassment, abuse and assault. It included a hotline for complaints.
"Less than half of these incidents that are matters that we've opened actually involve a CPS employee, volunteer or vendor," Doug Henning, the interim chief of the new office, said at the meeting. "But the supports we provide and the assistance that we ensure students receive is given regardless of who the offender is."
The office's opening and the meeting Wednesday followed a Chicago Tribune investigative report in July that highlighted failures by Chicago Public Schools, the nation's third-largest school district.
Henning said he couldn't offer details about the new cases, but noted all complaints involving adults were turned over to school inspector general Nicholas Schuler.
Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker called the school's history of managing complaints "a terrible crisis," but did not address potential reforms, the Tribune reported Thursday.