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Pastors demand action after CPS sex abuse scandal

Leaders from P.O.W.E.R. (Pastors Organized with Equity and Respect) recently met to address the way Chicago Public Schools has handled sexual abuse in schools.

An investigative story published by the Chicago Tribune titled, “Betrayed” exposes CPS’ dysfunctional approach to protecting students from sexual assault/abuse. Most of the alleged predators were CPS employees.

CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS CEO Janice Jackson is fighting to survive after a sex abuse scandal has rocked the nation’s third largest school system.

Members of the P.O.W.E.R. Cluster are requesting a meeting with CPS CEO Janice Jackson to talk about her plans for change to ensure safety for children in the nation’s third largest school system.

One of the P.O.W.E.R. leaders, Reverend Carsie Earl Barnes III, moderator of the Salem Baptist District Association of Chicago, stated, “when our children are affected by such an abuse and misuse, it should also affect us as parents to not ignore the issues, but address the issue to help resolve such abuse.”

Another P.O.W.E.R. leader, Reverend Walter P. Turner, president of the Ministers Conference of Chicago and vicinity, said “I’ve been in Chicago all of my life and my ministerial career. I’ve been at the side of many families in troubling times, but this makes me cringe, not only as a pastor, but as a father and grandfather. We must protect our children for they are our tomorrow.”

“We must aggressively restore our schools to the safe haven we believed them to be, for the safe and enlightening education of our children,” said Reverend Michael A. Jones, P.O.W.E.R president. “There needs to be open communication to the churches and community—we are looking for transparency from CPS.”

On Tuesday, June 12, Chicago Board President Frank Clark said he will propose that district Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office take over responsibility for sexual abuse investigations. The plan would also “require monthly reporting to the board,” including the number of claims under investigation, the schools and employees involved, the nature of the allegations and the employment status of the involved school worker.

The change would require a board vote that is scheduled for later this month.

Board Vice President Jaime Guzman and Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson stood by Clark as he made the announcement Tuesday at CPS headquarters.

“I, like most of you, have been disappointed and outraged,” Clark said of his reaction to the Tribune’s “Betrayed” investigation, which found widespread shortfalls in the district’s response to sexual abuse allegations. “Schools must be a sanctuary for students. But as we now know, this was not the case for some.”

“Nothing is more important than creating a safer school district for our students, and we will not rest until that work is complete,” Clark said.

Clark said that CPS is committed to providing “appropriate resources” for the inspector general’s review.

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