Hundreds of volunteers and vendors still under review in Chicago schools’ background checks, most teachers cleared

Late Friday afternoon, Chicago schools released the climbing tally of employees who have cleared background checks — although hundreds of coaches, custodians, and volunteers remain under review.

The overwhelming majority of staffers — 99.14 percent — have passed, according to the district. But at least 13 people will lose their jobs because of the findings..

The district is still reviewing 107 coaches, out of 3,638, and 240 custodians out of 2,208 who work for private vendors.

When it comes to volunteers, the district checked the backgrounds of more than 8,059, and 403 have not been cleared. Volunteers who are in schools fewer than 10 hours a week do not have to undergo background checks, but principals have discretion to implement a stricter policy, the district said earlier this week.  

Out of the district’s 20,413 teachers, 99 percent have cleared fingerprint-based background checks.

Starting this summer, Chicago Public Schools began doubling down on background rechecks and fingerprinting in the wake of a series of articles from the Chicago Tribune that exposed gaps in how the district handled allegations of student sexual misconduct at the hands of adults. The district announced several new policy changes and precautions before the start of school, including new trainings for staff, hiring for a 20-person Office of Student Protections and Title IX, and a districtwide poster campaign that spells out how to report suspected misconduct.

Earlier this week, the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that some nurses assigned to Chicago schools had been sidelined by background checks. Today’s updated count released by the district shows that only 20 nurse contractors, out of 416, remain in limbo.

The background checks have raised concerns among parents and community leaders who serve on Local School Councils. The district requires council members to undergo fingerprint-based background checks, and some undocumented parents are refusing. A letter of concern addressed to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and district leadership currently has attracted slightly more than 100 signatures.

The latest results provided by the district are below.