Chicago-One News Staff
From roughly the 1970s through the 1980s, even to 1995 or beyond, students with diverse learning needs were shipped from Chicago Public Schools to non-public schools where former students allege abuse of various kinds took place.
Former students tell stories of these non-public schools allowing physical, verbal & emotional abuse, even sexual abuse by other students. Some who have spoken-up under condition of anonymity, say even the "teachers" and "staff" of these schools were the alleged offenders, and other adults who knew about these instances turned their heads due to fear of their own safety, and fear for loss of their jobs.
"Teachers" and "staff" in these non-public specialized schools are not, and never were in the Chicago Teacher's Union, although these non-public specialized schools were funded by taxpayer dollars.
ISBE was contacted, and it turns out that non-public schools who educate children with diverse learning needs, or otherwise provide services to children with diverse learning needs who are placed in non-public schools by way of the Chicago Public School District are not required to be state licensed, and any registration for what is termed by ISBE as "recognition" with ISBE is voluntary.
Although ISBE has standards for those non-public schools whom they allow to register with ISBE, it appears as if the non-public school would keep their own records. The Chicago Public Schools Office of Diverse Learner Services keeps student records which are protected by state and federal law as highly confidential, but that office has no legal state or federal mandate to keep records of these non-public diverse learner schools.
These non-public diverse learner schools are allowed to hire anyone they want to teach and perform other staff functions with no state or federal oversight, no requirement for their teachers and staff to obtain state or local school district licensing. They perform their own background checks, which are noted to be hit or miss.
There is no state or federal requirement for adults working with vulnerable children in non-public diverse learner schools to face any kind of rigourous screening.
This creates a loophole that create dangers here.
1. There is no requirement in Illinois that ISBE OR DCFS inspect these schools, or routinely check for child abuse or neglect
2. The point number 1 above creates is this: Chicago's and Illinois' most vulnerable children HAVE faced abuse and neglect in these non-public, non-regulated schools for decades and the abusers often just resign or are terminated, and hop from non-public school to non-public school where they hide rather easily from their past
3. It appears that these non-public, non-regulated schools and their personnel might not be subject to Illinois or federal mandatory reporter laws since they're not a public entity
4. There is no state law requiring ISBE to investigate abuse / neglect in non-public special education schools, and neither DCFS, or these non-public special education schools are required by law to make their abuse and neglect investigation records a public record identifying the accused person.
Number 4 above allows the alleged abuser to go undetected without any way for the victims to have recourse, or potential education employers to be aware of the past conduct of non-public special ed teachers or "staff members"
At this point, the surface appearance is that the system was designed to lose special ed kids in the system, having the effect of "dumping" them somewhere and doing so without any checks and balances to ensure the well-being of these kids. The State regulation website, "Innovation.ed.gov" shows the Illinois statutes involved that create the above mentioned safety risks.
Those people lnow have no voice to pursue justice for their victimization because there are literally no records of these teachers or staff members if / when these non-public special ed facilities shut down as many non-public schools have.
One such school allegedly had issues with student on student abuse of sorts, and staff on student abuse / violence on Chicago's near west side. One anonymous former student states that they had witnessed riots or near-riots, beatings, physical and sexual abuse by a particular adult school staff member, and says the school even experienced a shooting incident in 1994, just blocks from the school, allegedly not the school's first experience with nearly fatal results due to violence.
That shooting is said to have wounded one high school student who attended that school. The motive for the shooting was rumored to be the student's refusal to join a gang. Chicago Police were said to have taken one or more suspects into custody.
The school was mentioned in the Chicago-One News feature on the inability of DCFS to track hotline calls by address.
Chicago-One performed public records requests with the ISBE, Chicago Police, and Chicago OEMC (Office of Emergency Management and Communications) after verifying that acts of violence indeed occurred at the school, located at 1135 N. Cleaver st.
According to ISBE, there were issues with their ability to retain records on the school due to a conflict between the school's closing date, and the date ISBE started keeping electronic records. ISBE referred Chicago-One to the state's online teacher licensing search portal.
The Chicago Police responded with a statement that they had no calls for responses to the school between January 1st, 1986 and June 30th of 1997, which is in conflict to eyewitness accounts of events alleged to have occurred there. Chicago Police acknowledged a call history to that address over the last 18 years between the year 2000 and 2018.
The request for further emergency response data to that address filed with Chicago OEMC revealed that they only retain call data for four years, which will explain the FOIA response of the Chicago Police Department.
There are other sets of difficulties students face when these non-public schools shut down....the inability of colleges, universities, and / or possible employers to verify their high school background. Many of these non-public schools and the Chicago Public School District issue these children diplomas that identify them as being diverse learners who attended a specialized school, and that triggers problems finding employment in the public AND private sectors due to negative stereotyping / discrimination.