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128 CPS employees out over stricter background checks

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Months into Chicago Public Schools’ effort to re-examine the backgrounds of adults who work in its schools, officials revealed that 128 employees — nine of them teachers — were forced out.

Another 124 employees have not been cleared to return to work because they did not comply with the requirement to submit fingerprints for a background re-check, CPS officials said in a statement.

“The vast majority of employees were willing participants in this process because they understood the importance of what we are doing to keep kids safe. But if employees have convictions or arrests and choose not to provide the documentation we need to thoughtfully evaluate their cases, they cannot be cleared for work until they complete the process,” the statement released Tuesday said.

Of CPS’ total 68,333 adults required to be screened before the start of school — employees, volunteers and vendors including nurses and custodial staff —  background checks still have not yet cleared for 930. According to CPS, of the 151 custodians who resigned or were dismissed, 129 were removed because they did not provide adequate information after the district followed up with them about their background checks. 27 coaches’ background checks are still under additional review.

Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Christine Geovanis said the union has not heard anything from the member employees who were terminated.

“We heard zero info on this, we have no cases in play,” Geovanis said. “We don’t know what schools they’re talking about, the names of the employees that have been cited for removal, we got zero info from CPS.”

CPS spokesman Michael Passman said the union is notified any time dismissal charges are filed against a member and is made aware of the cause for recommended termination, though the information found in a background is kept private.

Geovanis said it was “deeply troubling” that there was “no administration effort at all to work cooperatively” and that a shortage of school nurses continues to be an issue in schools where they have not yet been cleared to return.

Passman did not provide a clear timeline for the remaining uncleared background checks.


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