Over the past six years, more than 800 students in Chicago’s public school system have claimed they were beaten, whipped and choked - all at the hands of school staff.
According to a report by Chicago TV station CBS 2, since 2003, out of the 818 reports of abuse, 568 were investigated and proven to be true.
One alleged victim, elementary school student Treveon Martin, says he was hit with a belt by a teacher. “He’s threatened almost all the kids in his classroom,” he said. “He holded my arms and he picked my body up, and then he just slammed me on the desk,” Martin said.
Across the system, other reports included accusations from some students saying they were beaten with broomsticks, yard sticks, and staplers. Others were allegedly pushed down stairs and one sub allegedly fractured a student’s neck, the station found. Corporal punishment is illegal in the state of Illinois.
The system’s former CEO Arne Duncan, who was recently appointed U.S. Secretary of Education, told the station he had zero tolerance for such acts.
“Any founded allegation where an adult is hitting a child, hitting a student – they’re going to be gone,” he said. However, of the 568 cases that were proven true, just 24 people were fired.
City Council Education Committee Alderman Pat O’Connor says the allegations were never brought to his committee until recently, but wants officials to take another look at the cases and how they were handled.
“I’ll tell you what it is – it’s deplorable. I really believe that the Board has dropped the ball in this instance,” he told CBS 2. “You rely on them to follow the law, and clearly here, it doesn’t appear that they have.”
The new incoming Chicago Schools CEO Ron Huberman has also promised to review how the cases of alleged abuse were handled.