CHICAGO, Nov. 19, 2021 — The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today following reports of sexual abuse and misconduct at Marine Leadership Academy:
Our union has zero tolerance for sexual misconduct. Nothing is more important than the trust of our children, and nothing is more reprehensible than the violation of that trust. Students deserve safety above all else.
As educators, our first responsibility to students is to protect them from harm. We condemn any behavior that in any way leads to harm or trauma of a child.
The lack of action at Marine Leadership Academy following a 2018 Chicago Tribune investigation into sexual abuse in our schools is concerning. Issues at Marine surfaced when school community members brought concerns about a toxic school culture to school administration, yet instead of taking action, the now-removed principal was promoted.
Three years ago, educators, families and school communities were promised something that was not delivered, and this is the result.
Mayor Lightfoot must protect our children and shield them from harm. The mayor must also make her district responsible for all facets of student safety. We cannot continue to have such an alarming lack of attention, and lack of action, in protecting children. We must also continue to push back against cultures of fear and intimidation from administrators in our schools.
House Bill 1975, which our union supported and is now law, strengthens school oversight and student protection in cases of sexual abuse. Every employee of every school district must follow this law. We also urge the mayor and CPS to embrace a spirit of regular and ongoing cooperation and collaboration with our union and rank-and-file members in our schools that centers student safety and well-being.
Our children must be protected at all costs.