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Op-ed misleads about inspector general’s investigations of sexual misconduct in CPS | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

Benjamin Colwell’s May 31 op-ed (“Sexual abuse in CPS deserves state scrutiny too”) spreads inaccurate and dangerously misleading information about investigations conducted by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for Chicago Public Schools. His op-ed attempts to make false parallels to and draw attention away from the heinous, substantiated sex crimes against more than 1,900 children outlined in the attorney general’s “Report on Catholic Clergy Child Sex Abuse in Illinois.” Colwell conflates allegations of staff misconduct reported to the OIG with substantiated Catholic clergy sex abuse findings reported by Attorney General Kwame Raoul, misrepresenting our investigations and potentially disrespecting the many victims of sex abuse in Illinois’ Catholic dioceses.

The OIG has conducted independent investigations of allegations of staff-to-student sexual misconduct for nearly five years. Our investigative findings are reported to CPS, the school board and the public for the purpose of promoting transparency, child safety and accountability — all of which the attorney general found to be greatly lacking among Illinois Catholic dioceses.

The The OIG’s investigative work is one piece of CPS’ four-pronged approach to eradicate sex abuse across the school district, which also includes extensive training for all members of the CPS community, expanded reporting obligations for staff and supports for students involved in all investigations.

The OIG notifies law enforcement agencies and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services when sex abuse and grooming allegations are made, and it shares information and evidence. In cases with concerns for student safety, suspected staff members are removed from contact with students while an investigation proceeds and the school community is notified.

Colwell’s op-ed signals that he has not read our “Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report” that explains the data we publicly reported. Of the 470 misconduct allegations that the OIG received — from staff, students, parents, school administration officials and others — in the 2021-22 school year, 273 involved allegations of “concerning behaviors.” These allegations were not overtly sexual in nature but nevertheless raised concerns — such as staff members texting with students, making students uncomfortable and/or showing them an inordinate amount of attention. Since 2018, the OIG has substantiated 39 cases of criminal sexual abuse. Yet CPS has charged us with investigating every allegation of potential sexual misconduct that we receive.

CPS has distinguished itself in the way it addresses the kinds of abuse and misconduct allegations that surface in schools, religious and other kinds of institutions everywhere. The results of CPS’ commitment bear no similarity to the widespread institutional failures revealed in the attorney general’s report about Illinois’ Catholic dioceses.

— Will Fletcher, inspector general, Chicago Board of Education

Like many of my fellow conservatives, I, too, was disappointed that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was unable to extract more significant spending cuts. However, I realize it’s extremely difficult to obtain what you would like when you control only one of the three key branches of government.

Also, most of the cuts appear to deal with the fringe areas of spending, while some entitlement programs that desperately need attention were not addressed. So, unless something dramatic happens in 2024, like a Republican sweep of all three branches, I fear we will be stuck with high inflation, higher taxes and a weakening dollar. We simply cannot keep spending and increasing the government debt level without experiencing disastrous financial consequences.

— Dan Schuchardt, Glen Ellyn

It is sobering, but also infuriating, that such tech leaders as artificial intelligence pioneer Geoffrey Hinton and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are only now warning that chatbots and their ilk pose to the human race a “risk of extinction” on a par with nuclear war and pandemics.

No new drug is launched on the market without extensive Food and Drug Administration vetting, and major construction projects go forward only after environmental impact studies. Yet AI programs, which may be far more dangerous, can be released at the whim of the engineers who develop them, with no vetting at all to mitigate the social perils they pose. Once the genie is loose, the rest of us are compelled to upend our lives, our professions and our educational systems. In fact, intellectual workers now face the same existential threat that manual workers faced 200 years ago.

It is time to imitate those early labor activists, the Luddites, whose heroic resistance to oppression is too often misunderstood and mocked.

— Barbara Newman, Evanston

Regarding the editorial that concludes that the 3% surcharge some restaurants impose is to boost their profit margins and is not being shared with their employees (“Message to Chicago restaurants: Customer goodwill won’t last forever,” May 30): This is not a tip. It’s a surcharge for restaurants to recoup the amount they have to pay credit card companies on each transaction made.

When you get a reward from your credit card company, who do you think is paying for it? The credit card company, out of the goodness of its heart? It comes from the fees credit card companies collect from merchants. Large restaurants pay huge dollar amounts for customers to have the privilege of charging.

Just be happy you can charge and not have to pay cash!

— Renette Frank, Frankfort

I read the restaurant editorial with interest. We haven’t eaten a meal at a sit-down restaurant in months. Luckily, I’m a great home chef, so we’ve saved a lot of money.

Case in point: Roughly one year ago, I ate at a local sandwich place that’s very well-known. I ordered my usual but didn’t pay attention to the price until after I paid. A sandwich I used to pay $5.50 to $6 now runs about $10.50. Really? What really ticked me off is that this restaurant was open during the pandemic for to-go and delivery orders. So, now, they’ve gone the route of pandemic profiteering.

I haven’t been back since, and I now check restaurant website menus before reserving a table.

— Kevin Bilbro, Chicago

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