A staff member in the troubled Chicago Public School system has been removed from their position after an allegation that they had inappropriate interactions with a student in the school.
Incidents like these highlight the problems that staff and faculty members can face when they work in inner-city schools that are trying to reform themselves from prior and well-known Title IX violations.
Staffer at Chicago School Let Go for Alleged Sexual Misconduct
According to the initial reports, the staffer worked at the Whitney Young Magnet High School, in Chicago's West Loop neighborhood. The staffer's gender was not been released in the letter than parents received about the incident, though it was made clear that the worker was not a teacher at the school.
Little other information was released. All that was mentioned was that the staffer had been removed from their position at the school after allegedly having inappropriate interactions with a student at the school.
Decision Comes After Devastating OCR Investigation
If firing a school staffer seems harsh after “inappropriate interactions” with a student, the context here is key: The Chicago Public School system is not even a year removed from a bombshell investigation from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). That OCR investigation had confirmed what had been found in a feature article in the Chicago Tribune in 2018 – that there had been hundreds of uninvestigated cases of sexual abuse and rape in the system's schools over the past decade.
Workers Lose When the Pendulum Swings the Other Way
After such a startling revelation from the newspaper articles and the OCR's investigations, it comes as no surprise that the Chicago Public School system would decide to take bold action against anyone in their schools who committed sexual misconduct. Doing anything less than that would make it seem like the system had not learned its lesson.
Unfortunately, whenever a school district decides to take this aggressive course of action for all future cases, the losers are the staff members who get accused of misconduct. They find themselves in a spot where their school district is itching to make an example of someone and may struggle to get even the opportunity to defend themselves before the hammer comes down.
Workers in Inner-City Schools Have the Toughest Time Creating Boundaries
Things are even more difficult for teachers and staff members who work at inner-city schools, like this one in Chicago. While admission to Whitney Young is far from easy, many of the students still come from distressed backgrounds in the Chicago area. When teachers and staffers at the school try to fill in some of those gaps in a child's upbringing, they can find themselves unwittingly toe the line of what is an acceptable boundary between student and teacher.
Especially when the school is looking for a reason to flex its muscles and show everyone that it has learned what sexual misconduct looks like, any ambiguity can get a well-meaning staffer or teacher in trouble.