CHICAGO — A new report examines Chicago Public School spending and the district’s response to allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct by staff.
Inspector General for Chicago Public Schools Will Fletcher joined WGN Evening News on Tuesday to discuss his and his staff’s findings. Fletcher spoke about his office’s sexual allegations unit, which started in 2018 to investigate claims such as inappropriate comments in the classroom or criminal sexual abuse.
The investigative unit opened 477 cases last year.
WGN News asked if inappropriate conduct is occurring or being reported more.
“I think it is being reported more,” Fletcher replied. “CPS, back in 2018, made a big effort to give students a voice and make sure staff is accountable for reporting these types of violations, and then CPS also expanded the type of violations that they wanted to have reported.”
Fletcher’s report also looked at a massive influx of cash that Chicago Public Schools received from the federal government as pandemic relief money. According to the report, 77% of the $1.5 billion was administered to staff and benefits.
Specifically, one area that grew significantly was extra pay, which accounts for everything from overtime to stipends for coaching. The report found that the number is up 74% over the last five years.
WGN News asked Fletcher if there have been cases where the money went to people it shouldn’t.
“So it’s a huge surge and it has been a huge surge from 2020-2021 and coming out of the pandemic, and that spending on extra pay surged $30 million, and what we’re finding and what we’re reporting on is that the oversight, the rules, the guidelines that you would expect to be in place to make certain that money is prudently spent are absent,” Fletcher said.
Watch the full interview in the video player above.