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CPS Sex Harassment Case Cover-up ... 3 years, 4 months, 23 days too late

Sex Harassment Case Cover-up ... 3 years, 4 months, 23 days too late ... Materials were released by Chicago Public Schools years after sexual harassment allegations, and a resignation happened. We are now only learning of the details of this case.

In an ongoing Substance News investigation into systemic covering up of misconduct by Chicago Public Schools employees and administrators, we have finally received an investigative report regarding a shop instructor working as an uncertified teacher through a third-party vendor, Manufacturing Connect, aka Renaissance Manufacturing.

Pablo Varela, who worked at Austin High School for Renaissance Manufacturing, supported by the Chicago Teachers Union, was accused of inappropriate conduct with students. Yet, we are only now getting information about what happened. The first official report of this incident was made on May 19, 2019. Mr. Varela resigned on May 24, 2019. The investigation did not conclude until March 5, 2021; CPS did not take any official action to bar him until September 28, 2022.

We asked for information about this incident back on May 10, 2022, at 10:56:43 PM. CPS responded by lying and saying they had no documents about Mr. Varela. They then changed their cover-up to say he was under investigation and had to wait until the school district took formal action in the matter. Then we waited another month for the final decision by the school district to bar Mr. Verala from any work in the Chicago Public Schools. It took CPS 5 months to provide documents they already had for someone who did not work for them and quit instead of fighting his case.

At no time did we receive any documentation regarding trauma counseling, parent meetings, or policies put in place to protect current and future students at Austin Polytech or Manufacturing Connect, aka Renaissance Manufacturing.

We never received any documentation that anyone else was investigated regarding this pattern of behavior that was allowed to go on at the school. We know the principal left abruptly but have not verified if it was related to this issue.

We will post the information from the report for now. Then we will work on our analysis of the possible reasons this was kept under wraps for over 3 years, 4 months, 23 days.

We asked for an on-the-record response to this issue from Mr. Varela, and he declined.

We received a response from Erica Swinney Staley, Executive Director of Manufacturing Renaissance, which we will write about later.

We will ask for statements from CPS and CTU on this matter when they are back at work Monday.

Hint money, politics, and power.

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OIG 19-00994 SUBSTANTIATED CASE

SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS UNIT SUMMARY REPORT OIG 19-00994

March 5, 2021

SUBJECT

Pablo Varela

Manufacturing Connect Employee

Austin College and Career Academy High School

Incident Report 2013957

Substantiated Sexual Conduct — Sexual Harassment

FINDINGS

1. Manufacturing Connect Employee Pablo Varela, who worked for a CPS vendor as a machine shop instructor at Austin College and Career Academy High School, looked at multiple students in an inappropriate manner while at school, witnessed by multiple other students. He also invaded students’ personal space as well as massaged their shoulders.

2. Given this pattern, the OIG concludes that the evidence of Varela’s conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment in violation of CPS’s Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Title IX and Sexual Harassment Policy. CPS Policy Manual, Section 102.8, Board Report 16-0525-PO1 (May 25, 2016).

3. The OIG further finds that Varela violated the CPS Guidelines Regarding

Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries, which define appropriate and reasonable boundaries for staff members and students. According to the “Unacceptable Behavior” Section of the Guidelines, “Staff members shall not target a particular student or students for personal attention or friendship beyond the normal staff member-student relationship,” “Staff members shall not address students with unique pet names or personalized terms of endearment that suggest a unique and overly familiar relationship," and "Staff members shall not engage in any type of inappropriate physical contact with students or any other conduct that might be considered harassment under the Chicago Board of Education's (Board) Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Title IX and Sexual Harassment Policy (16-0525-POl.)"

RECOMMENDATIONS In part because of these allegations, Varela resigned from his position with Manufacturing Connect on May 24, 2019. The OIG recommends that:

o CPS personally and permanently debar Varela as a CPS vendor; and

o CPS flag Varela' s file for review and consideration of this matter in the event that he applies for a position with CPS or a charter school, or is otherwise subject to a CPS background check.

INVESTIGATION A. INITIAL COMPLAINT (MAY 9, 2019) On May 9, 2019, the OIG received an Incident Report regarding Shop Teacher Pablo Varela, an employee of vendor Manufacturing Connect (MC).- students complained about Varela and alleged that he stared at different students' buttocks, had isolated a student for individual instruction, and made students uncomfortable because he stood too close to them. The students stated that Varela once looked at a student for so long that he ran into something because he was not looking where he was going. The students originally brought these allegations to employees of MC, Leslye Long and Mieka Matthews. The OIG spoke with Principal Simone Griffin who related that the 2018-19 school year was her first year as principal at Austin High School. Principal Griffin stated that she had only positive interactions with Varela. Griffin also stated that the students had told her that during the summer program they complained about Varela to employees of MC, but nothing was done. Griffin is not aware of the MC employee(s) who received the students' complaints, nor the students who complained.

ANALYSIS

Based on its investigation, the OIG finds that the evidence does support a finding of sexual harassment against Varela. He also violated the Guidelines Regarding

Maintaining Professional Staff/Student Boundaries.

A. FACTUAL FINDINGS

During the summer of 2018, before the OIG’s Sexual Allegations Unit existed, students complained about Varela. According to Program Director Long, these students alleged that Varela looked at them inappropriately, and called them names such as “honey” and “sweetie.” Long then had a conversation with Varela “about respect.”

The OIG finds the type, frequency, and duration of Varela’s conduct was sufficiently severe to create a hostile environment. According to the OCR Guidance, “a hostile environment will exist if there is a pattern or practice of harassment…particularly if the conduct has gone on for some time…” Id. at 6. Here, it is more likely than not that Varela had been looking at students in an inappropriate manner since at least the summer of 2018, when students first brought this to MC administration.

Additionally, numerous students interviewed by the OIG stated that Varela had stared at students on multiple previous occasions. While leering is generally a less invasive form of sexual harassment compared to other forms, the OIG notes that this behavior has been ongoing and pervasive. The students were subjectively impacted by Varela’s behavior; repeatedly made multiple students uncomfortable in his presence. Additionally, Varela’s staring is coupled with Varela’s invasion of students’ personal space, massaging of students’ shoulders, and calling students “honey,” “sweetie,” and “bae.”

Further, Varela refused to be interviewed by the OIG and thus failed to offer any evidence to contradict the students’ statements or provide context for his conduct.

Given the totality of Varela’s conduct, the OIG finds that Varela’s conduct amounted to sexual harassment in violation of CPS Comprehensive Non-Discrimination Title IX and Sexual Harassment policy. See CPS Policy Manual, Section 102.8(III)(B), Board Report 16-0525-PO1 (May 25, 2016).

C. CONCLUSION

A supervisor previously spoke to Varela, prior to these allegations, about concerns regarding his behavior toward students. Here, the facts show consistent inappropriate staring at students and invasion of personal space of students. In part because of these allegations, Varela resigned from his position with Manufacturing Connect on May 24, 2019. The OIG recommends that:

o CPS personally and permanently debar Varela as a CPS vendor; and

o CPS flag Varela’s file for review and consideration of this matter in the event that he applies for a position with CPS or a charter school, or is otherwise subject to a CPS background check.

CPS Permenant Debarment of Pablo Varela Sept 28, 2022 Board Report 22-0928-OP5

https://www.scribd.com/document/600785920/CPS-Permenant-Debarment-of-Pablo-Varela-Sept-28-2022-Board-Report-22-0928-OP5

Pablo Varela 19-00994 Summary Report Redacted SUBSTANTIATED CASE — SEXUAL ALLEGATIONS UNIT SUMMARY

https://www.scribd.com/document/600785131/Pablo-Varela-19-00994-Summary-Report-Redacted-SUBSTANTIATED-CASE-SEXUAL-ALLEGATIONS-UNIT-SUMMARY-REPORT-OIG-19-00994



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