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CPS removes 2 principals amid sexual abuse investigations

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson holds a press conference on sexual violence in the district, at CPS headquarters, on Tuesday June 5, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Chicago Public Schools announced Monday that it has removed principals of two schools as the district investigates claims of sexual abuse against students.

Simeon High School principal Dr. Sheldon House and Goode STEM Academy principal Armando Rodriguez were both relieved of their duties Monday, according to CPS.

“Every adult who serves in our district has a responsibility to protect students from harm, and CPS is committed to holding staff members accountable when they fail to uphold that duty,” CPS CEO Janice Jackson said in a statement.

“As a result of district-led investigations into allegations of sexual abuse, two CPS principals were removed from their positions today due to initial findings that suggest they did not effectively safeguard their students,” she added.

Both investigations remain ongoing.

CPS has tapped retired former principal Patricia Woodson to serve as interim principal at Simeon. David Gilligan, another retired former principal, will head Goode. Both will serve until the local school councils select a full-time principal at each school.

Several weeks ago, a CPS audit found “systemic issues” with background checks performed on volunteer athletic coaches at Simeon.

During that audit, CPS became aware of a new allegation of sexual abuse by a volunteer. That allegation “was not handled in accordance with CPS policy,” according to the district.

In 2016, a former Simeon student sued after they alleged they were groped by a track coach.

Earlier this month, CPS removed a teacher from Goode after an allegation of possible sexual abuse of a student was made.

Last week, CPS said employees will undergo additional background checks, adults will be restricted from having any access to students if sexual abuse is alleged and employees will undergo retraining on reporting abuse and inappropriate boundaries between staff and students.

Earlier this month, a Chicago Tribune investigation uncovered a decade of mishandling cases of sexual abuse by the school district.