Vague misconduct allegations anger Chicago school parents
CHICAGO (AP) — An investigation of a Chicago high school that led to the cancellation of the boys basketball season, and the removal of the principal and assistant principal revealed allegations of sexual misconduct by students and adults, retaliation against witnesses and athletic recruiting violations, officials said.
At a meeting Monday night in a packed Lincoln Park High School auditorium, Chicago Public Schools officials listed allegations of misconduct and dishonesty that seemed more akin to an athletic scandal at a major university than at a high school in a well-to-do neighborhood on Chicago’s North Side.
The officials provided few details about incidents or the names of people they suspect were involved.
The meeting stemmed from an investigation that began early last month with a report of misconduct involving the basketball team during a trip to Detroit in December. The probe revealed what the CPS termed “egregious and systemic policy violations” that led to the suspension of basketball coach Pat Gordon days later. Gordon has denied knowing anything about an alleged incident in Detroit and he has not been accused of improper contact with a student.
Last week, the school announced that the team’s season had been canceled and the interim principal and an assistant principal had been removed. It said an allegation of sexual misconduct involving the girl’s basketball team was also being investigated.
The most serious allegations centered on sexual misconduct.
“There are allegations of both adult-on-student sexual misconduct as well as student-on-student,” said Deb Spraggins, director of investigation for CPS’ Office of Student Protections.
Officials say efforts appear to have been made to prevent investigators from learning what happened, starting with an allegation that mandatory sexual misconduct reporting procedures weren’t followed, student-on-student retaliation against those who spoke to investigators, interference with an official investigation by school leadership and the withholding of evidence from investigators.
The presentation of the allegations was greeted with anger from community members, students and others who vehemently disagreed with canceling the season and removing the administrators and coaches. Just hours earlier, students walked out of class in protest,
Audience members chanted, “Where is Due Process,” while heated exchanges and shouts prompted security staff to escort the CPS safety chief out of the meeting. The lack of any details provided by CPS only added to to the audience’s anger.
“No one knows what happened, that’s why everyone is freaking out,” said Christy Bauhs, a parent with two children attending the high school. “The (lack of) communication is making it worse. If they would just tell us exactly what happened, then maybe we’d be like, ‘Oh, OK.'”