As first day nears, 98 percent of CPS staff clears background check process

CHICAGO --  As Chicago Public Schools students get ready to return to class Tuesday, the district has finished background checks on its employees.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson updated the public Sunday and laid out new numbers.  At this time, 98 percent of employees who have contact with students have cleared these background checks.

It's a process that started two and a half months ago, after the Chicago Tribune uncovered the scandal that involved the school district's handling of sex abuse cases.

This summer, CPS committed to conducting background checks on a total of 43,000 teachers, vendors, coaches and volunteers at a cost of about $2 million.

Jackson said Sunday that there were two groups of people who are not cleared to return to school yet.

265 employees had something flagged on their background check that requires more information. An additional 245 individuals refused to be fingerprinted.

Those employees are not cleared or allowed into any Chicago Public School.

Jackson says she is pleased with the process and hopes it sends a strong message.

“I will definitely say to parents, our schools are much safer because of this,” she said.  “I take great comfort in knowing every employee has undergone a robust process to make sure there's nothing on their background that precludes them from working with our kids.”

Jackson said they are working all day Sunday and Monday to try to clear some of the 265 individuals who need to provide more paperwork.
57 of those are teachers.

If they can't be cleared by the first day of school on Tuesday, she says substitute teachers will be called to fill in.