Report Finds Improper Pay and Misconduct in Chicago Schools

A new report by the Office of the Inspector General on investigations into possible waste, fraud, misconduct and financial mismanagement in Chicago public schools has found cases of retired teachers working as substitutes, racking up $1.13 million in improper benefits between 2007 and 2011, writes Stefano Esposito at the Chicago Sun-Times.

Under the collective bargaining agreement between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS, retirees serving as substitutes should only be entitled to a fixed day's pay, and not any of the other benefits – but the report has revealed that CPS's payroll system didn't prevent the payment of extra benefits to retirees.

The report also found alarming cases of theft, mismanagement and inappropriate behavior.

In one case detailed in the report, a teacher allegedly "touched the genital area of a male student by running his fingers down the zipper of the student's pants."

To "buy the student's silence," the teacher gave him a bag of Snickers candy bars.

The same teacher allegedly showed students how to use "proxy servers to circumvent CPS computer filters and access pornography in class using CPS classroom computers," says the report.

It's not clear whether the teacher faced any punitive action, though he did later resign.

The report explained how the current CPS measures that prevent access to pornography are too rudimentary and are easily bypassed.

The report states that there's "a very high risk that CPS students and staff are regularly accessing pornographic websites via the CPS server system."

The report also revealed cases of alleged employee theft, including a "central office manager" who used CPS funds to buy champagne, condoms, flowers and a king-size mattress — among other things, writes Esposito.

School officials declined to be interviewed about the report, but said that the findings are disappointing and the new leadership at CPS will not tolerate any activities of this nature, writes Pam Zekman at CBS Chicago.

Marielle Sainvilus, a spokeswoman for CPS, said the report's findings are both "serious and disappointing."

"We are already taking necessary corrective actions and additional steps to implement accountability measures throughout the system to ensure that proper protocols and procedures are met.

"We have a responsibility to maintain public trust and as we continue to work towards providing every student with a high quality education that prepares them for college and career, we will hold everyone accountable in that process who do not work in the best interest of our students."

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