New Report Details Massive Fraud and Abuse Allegations in Chicago Public Schools

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On January 1, 2023, the Chicago Board of Education’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued its Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report, which details allegations of widespread sexual abuse throughout Chicago Public Schools (CPS), rampant corruption, massive fraud, and other troubling findings.


According to the report, CPS received $2.8 billion in federal pandemic relief funds. To date, CPS has spent nearly 50 percent of that amount, with “77% of its $1.49 billion in pandemic relief funding expenditures to date on employee salaries and benefits.”

Much of that money has been allocated to CPS staff in the form of “Extra Pay.” As the report notes, “In 2021, Extra Pay hit nearly $74 million — a 17 percent increase from the most recent pre-pandemic calendar year of 2019. Over five years, Extra Pay jumped 74 percent — far more than the average teacher’s salary rose over a similar five-year period.”

What’s more, “Pre-pandemic versus post-pandemic Stipend expenditures systemwide more than tripled, jumping from $8.5 million in calendar year 2019 to $28.9 million in 2021.”

The report also documents wide-ranging fraud via “buddy punching,” wherein a CPS employee would clock in or out for other employees. In one particular case, a CPS employee earned more than $150,000 over four years in “Extra Pay” even though videos documented the employee was gambling in casinos while being compensated for “Extra Pay.”

CPS has a long history of misspending funds; however, the district has taken this to a whole new level in recent years after it received almost $3 billion in emergency funds that were supposed to be spent on reopening its schools in the wake of the pandemic.


As if engaging in financial fraud is not bad enough, an even more disturbing set of allegations concerning extensive adult-on-student sexual abuse was uncovered throughout CPS. Per the report, over the past four years, the OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit (SAU) has investigated 1,733 cases of adult-on-student sexual abuse. In 2022 alone, SAU opened 477 cases of potential sexual abuse allegations. Since 2018, the SAU has confirmed more than 300 cases of adult-on-student sexual abuse in CPS. Strangely, only 16 of those cases have resulted in criminal charges.

Another red flag highlighted in the report documents the fact that CPS has a “chronic problem” mislabeling truant students as transfer students. Since 2014, the OIG has launched five probes into this ongoing issue, however, the problem persists. In 2022, the OIG uncovered “extensive evidence” that schools throughout the district have repeatedly marked students who have dropped out as transfers even though this violates state law and CPS policy.

“We have not been able to confirm or see any evidence that CPS is taking adequate corrective actions even when these audits bear out that schools are not in compliance with what they’re supposed to be doing to verify transfers or missing students,” the report notes.


Although the mislabeling accusations pale in comparison to the outright fraud and sexual abuse allegations, it matters because these students are unlikely to re-register after they have been coded as a transfer. In fact, data show that since CPS decided to shut down its schools for in-person learning during the pandemic, there has been an even more significant drop-off in student attendance across the district. As far as we know, hundreds, if not thousands of students have completely fallen off of CPS’ radar because the district has failed to “address the improper use of leave codes and the documentation of transfers and dropouts.”

Interestingly, the problems that have engulfed CPS in recent years have not occurred across the Windy City’s private schools. During the pandemic, the overwhelming majority of private and charter schools throughout Chicago maintained in-person learning, despite not receiving a single penny in federal pandemic relief funds. There have also been no bombshell reports of rampant sexual abuse allegations in Chicago’s many non-public schools. It also should be noted that Chicago’s private and charter schools have not been accused of mislabeling their students as transfers to hide the fact that they have dropped out.


Perhaps this report will convince more Chicago parents that school choice is the ultimate answer to the dysfunctional Chicago Public Schools racket. CPS is responsible for educating more than 350,000 students on an annual basis, yet it has shown itself to be wholly incapable of educating these young people, let alone keeping them safe from sexual assaults by CPS staff.

If this report, with all of its shocking claims, does not move the needle towards a school choice revolution in Chicago, the students will continue to pay the price as the so-called adults in the room plunder and destroy their futures.

Chris Talgo ([email protected]) is editorial director at The Heartland Institute.


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