Mayor Lori Lightfoot names new watchdog for Chicago Public Schools

Mayor Lightfoot has named William Fletcher, a former deputy investigator, to a new role as chief watchdog for Chicago Public Schools.

Fletcher is a former park district investigator who will serve as the new inspector general. He will lead the charge into student complaints of sexual misconduct by educators and staffers, as well as investigating possible district wrongdoing more broadly. 

“Through challenging times, our office will remain committed to the priority of making CPS a safe environment for children to learn. I also look forward to strengthening the working relationships with the Board of Education and (Chicago Public Schools) management,” Fletcher said in a statement provided by the mayor’s office. 

In Chicago, where the mayor appoints the school board, she also appoints an independent investigator to serve a four-year term. Fletcher will finish out the term of his predecessor, Nicholas Schuler, who stepped down in February following reports that he had created a “toxic workplace” for staff. Schuler’s term was set to expire in 2022.

Under Schuler’s tenure, the inspector general’s office took on a larger role, as Chicago Public Schools responded to the fallout from a Chicago Tribune investigation into school-related sexual assaults. His office formed a specialized unit to deal with complaints.

In his last board meeting before leaving his post, Schuler formally presented a report showing irregularities in the administration and scores of a high-stakes test for third through eighth grades. District leaders disputed some of his findings, but acknowledged the need for more clear and consistent oversight over the test, known as the NWEA. The score factors into school ratings and student applications for placement in selective enrollment high schools. 

Fletcher is a graduate of Whitney M. Young Magnet School and recently served as the president of the statewide association of inspector generals. 

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