Mayor Emanuel kicks off new school year ahead of re-election decision

CHICAGO — Prior to Mayor Emanuel's shocking announcement that he wasn't running for a third term, he kicked off the new school year at Perez Elementary.

Chicago Public School students returned to class on Tuesday.

Perez Elementary is one of several schools involved in the mayor's plan to offer universal free pre-kindergarten classes for all 4-year-olds by 2021.

The expanded program will accommodate an additional 3,700 students this year from families earning less than $46,000 annually.

New Background Checks

This school year starts after the city launched new background checks on staff. Ninety-eight percent passed. But, more than 250 employees, including nearly 60 teachers, are not allowed to return because something in their background check was flagged.

An additional 245 employees are banned because they would not submit fingerprints.

The review came after an investigation by the Chicago Tribune uncovered several allegations of misconduct.

The report claimed some staff members had abused several students over the past decade but were not reported to police.