CPS CEO asks lawmakers to change law that protects teachers accused of abuse

The CEO of Chicago Public Schools is asking lawmakers to change a controversial state law.

It's at the heart of a "code of silence" that has protected teachers suspected of sexually abusing students.

The law has long been defended by teachers’ unions. It prohibits school districts from warning other employers about a teacher who resigns, even if there's evidence that teacher sexually molested students.

“Right now, state law precludes us from doing that,” said CPS CEO Janice Jackson. “I would love to be able to be in a position to share that information as people transition from district to district.”

The Chicago Tribune found the code of silence protected former CPS teacher Stephen Stapanian, accused repeatedly of molesting boys in several school districts. One teacher’s union representative cut a deal requiring that evidence against Stapanian be destroyed. He went on to teach in Florida, eventually losing his license when families there made similar complaints.

Chicago Teacher’s Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey did not mention the controversial Illinois law, but issued a statement: "I’m horrified by these reports. Any abuse of a child is morally repugnant... There can be no code of silence in our schools."

Many of Rahm Emanuel’s challengers in next winter's mayoral election are blaming him for not acting sooner.

“Despite red flag after red flag, these were not isolated incidents, but were the product of widespread, systematic failures. Rahm Emanuel and the CPS leadership failed to take action,” said Lori Lightfoot.

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