Did the Chicago Board of Education Cover Up a School Rape? Then promote administrator afterwards?

One day Jesus Quiroga and his family were watching La Virgen de Guadalupe, a popular Mexican TV show, where a girl informed her mother that her mom’s boyfriend had raped and impregnated her. The mother refused to believe it and eventually both her and her daughter committed suicide.

Network 9 Chief Felicia Sanders (Principal during time student reported being gang raped inside her sixth grade classroom at the Pullman Elementary School on the city’s far Southeast Side of Chicago)

(Note: REPOSTED with permission from reporter Jim Vail:  In the wake of the Chicago Tribune’s investigation into Chicago Public School teacher and student sex assault cases.)

Monday, July 30, 2018 at 2:33:14p CDT

One day Jesus Quiroga and his family were watching La Virgen de Guadalupe, a popular Mexican TV show, where a girl informed her mother that her mom’s boyfriend had raped and impregnated her. The mother refused to believe it and eventually both her and her daughter committed suicide.

That was when Quiroga’s 12-year-old daughter froze. She then told her father she too had been sexually assaulted. She didn’t say where, but he noticed that whenever they came to school she started crying. She had been gang raped inside her sixth grade classroom at the Pullman Elementary School on the city’s far
Southeast Side.

Quiroga said he filed a police report and told the principal about the rape. His daughter had told her teachers.

Jesus Quiroga

Her teachers denied it ever happened.

And Pullman Principal Felicia Sanders asked the Chicago Public Schools to issue an order barring Quiroga from school property when he was demanding the school investigate. She then had the parent and former member of their local school council arrested and convicted of trespassing when he was near the school
grounds collecting signatures on a petition to have the principal removed for covering up his daughter’s rape.

A lawsuit was filed in September 2010 against the teachers and the Chicago Board of Education for the sexual assault that occurred in the classroom during school hours.

“I filed suit against teachers and the Board for the fact that she was sexually assaulted in a class room during school hours,” said attorney Jason Epstein who filed the lawsuit.

Quiroga told Chicago News that the classroom where his daughter was gang raped in 2009 at Pullman Elementary was designed in the 1920s where the closet area is a long closed-in storage facility. He said the classroom teacher did not supervise the children during break time when the rape occurred.

There were two girls and two boys who took his daughter into a closet in the back of the classroom and sexually assaulted her, he said. His daughter was a disability student who had qualified for special education services.

But it wasn’t the first time she was raped in the school.

His daughter said that when she told her teacher, her teacher did not want to believe it.

“I first told the teacher and she just ignored me when it first happened in fifth grade,” she told Chicago News. “They attacked me many times and there was no teacher around. They tried to do it with the other girls but couldn’t.”

She said her teacher Mary Gleason, who has since retired and was one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, looked out the window and didn’t pay any attention to what she was telling her.

“She thought I just made it up to get attention,” Quiroga’s daughter, who is now 18, told the paper.

She said she had been repeatedly raped over a period of almost two years and was threatened that if she told anyone, she and her family would be killed. It started with one person, then two people and finally four, when she couldn’t take it anymore, her father said.

“The principal covered up everything,” Quiroga said. “We needed their first names, last names and birthdays and she refused to give it.”

The principal at first told Quiroga that the board of education would conduct an investigation. But as he waited and waited, nothing happened. She kept telling him she was waiting for directions from the downtown office. Then she started to avoid him, he said.

It was at the April 27, 2011 local school council meeting where Sanders addressed the council about the alleged rape in the school which she claimed was unfounded by the Department for Children and Family Services, according to minutes taken at the meeting that Quiroga provided to the paper.

The next day, Quiroga said, Sanders wrote a letter accusing him of making “threatening gestures, spoke loud outbursts, used excessive profanity with an elevated voice, made inappropriate comments to a few LSC members.”

He said she then informed the school – but not him – that to ensure the safety of the school, Quiroga was barred from the school grounds.

On June 17, 2011, the last day of school that year, Quiroga was arrested for criminal trespassing when he came to pick up his children. That was the day the principal saw him passing around a clipboard where he was gathering signatures to have her removed as principal.

“She was always a step ahead of me,” Quiroga told the paper. “She wanted to humiliate me.”

When Quiroga went to court he thought like other silly charges, this one would be thrown out. Instead, he turned around and saw several people in business suits who he surmised were big wigs from the board of education. He said they included Miguel Rodriguez from the CPS law department and Michael Shields, the head of CPS safety and security.

Principal Felicia Sanders
(Now Chicago Public Schools Network 9 Chief of Schools calls police on parent who reported his daughter being gang raped in her school)
Sanders testified that on the morning of June 17, 2011, when school ended for the year, she was in the main office when, 20 minutes before dismissal, some parents came into the office and told her that someone outside was harassing them. She looked out a window in her office, and saw Quiroga walking back and forth approaching parents on the playground, on the sidewalk, and in their cars, waiting for their children to be released. Quiroga held something about the size of a sheet of paper, but she did not know what he was doing. Sanders called her management support director, spoke to the school’s off-duty Chicago police officer, and then
contacted 911 because she believed Quiroga was in violation of the terms of the visitor protocol letter as he had not called ahead for permission to be on school grounds.

On cross-examination, Sanders conceded that she saw Quiroga near the school regularly when he dropped off and picked up his children. [People vs Quiroga IL App (1st) 2015-122585 (8/26/15) p3]

Quiroga asked for a jury trial after Rodriguez pressed the judge to immediately go to a bench trial that day, he said.

A judge found Quiroga guilty of trespassing on state property the next year in July 2012.

Weeks after a LSC meeting at which he wrangled with Pullman’s principal over an
incident involving his daughter, the school sent Quiroga a letter, which he may or may not have received, notifying him that he had to seek permission before entering school property. Pursuing his complaint with the principal, on the last day of school, Quiroga stood on the sidewalk and in the street in front of the school and solicited parents to sign a petition to remove the principal.

Soon, the principal contacted police and Quiroga was arrested, charged, and later convicted in a bench trial, with criminal trespass to state-supported land.

A couple of months later Principal Sanders moved up the CPS ladder. She is now the Deputy Chief of the Chicago Public Schools and the Network 9 Chief.

Quiroga was facing a one-year prison sentence, but instead was given supervision for a first-time offense.

In 2015 the Illinois Appellate Court in People vs. Quiroga overturned his conviction.

People vs Quiroga IL App (1st) 2015-122585 on Scribd


People vs Quiroga IL App (1… by John Kugler

The court ruled that the state failed to meet its burden that Quiroga caused any interference with official or public access to the grounds or interfered in the performance of duty through his activities outside the school that day.

“Indeed,” the court writes in its opinion, “Sanders acknowledged that she did not know what Quiroga was doing when she saw him approaching parents on the playground, on the sidewalk, and in their cars, but called police and security personnel because she believed he had violated the visitor protocol letter sent to him. Moreover, Sanders acknowledged on cross-examination that she regularly saw Quiroga near the school grounds when he picked up and dropped off his children.”

Jesus Quiroga speaks to Mayor Emanuel about the case (November 2015)

Quiroga provided Chicago News with his notes from a deposition his attorney Epstein took of Principal Sanders about the rape in her school. She told Epstein she did not remember contacting the police about the incident and did not contact the parents herself. She said she was not sure if anyone from the school had contacted the parents of the children involved in the rape. She also said she
did not make the report because she was not in the building at the time of the rape.

“So in her 2014 deposition, nobody was notified and no parents were notified,” Quiroga said. “Isn’t it her duty to call the police and have it fully investigated to see if there are other victims? Instead she had a conversation amongst the school administrators.”

Chicago News contacted Sanders at her Area 9 office, but she did not return a call to comment on the school rape and alleged cover-up.

Chicago News contacted the Chicago Board of Education communications department to ask about the lawsuit. An attorney from the law department called back to say there are many cases like this with alleged instances of sexual assault and they need time to determine if the attack happened.

Jose Castanada, a police detective in the children’s division at 13th and Damen, investigated the rape charges that led to one of the students being convicted, Quiroga said. Castanda told Quiroga that the principal could not provide the names of the alleged rapists because she told him she was not aware of any rape incident that happened in the school. However, an assistant principal provided
the first two names to Castenada while the principal was out of the country on vacation, Quiroga said.

Castanada did not return a call from Chicago News about the prosecution.

Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. at the time stated in a letter in support of Quiroga to CPS Chief Jean Claude Brizard that the matter had to be investigated because one of the rapists was already sentenced for the crime.

Thomas Bilyk, chief prosecutor at the Juvenile Center, who convicted the one girl in Dec. 2010, told Quiroga that he could only sentence one predator to supervision because it was her first offense and he was not aware of any other children involved in the rape because they couldn’t get cooperation from the school, Quiroga said.

Quiroga said the teachers were afraid of losing their jobs if they cooperated with him. He noted that the principal and other personnel had put in paperwork before the rape incident to move up positions, and after his conviction for trespassing, several employees moved up, including Sherry Dority, another teacher named in the lawsuit who then became the school’s assistant principal.

Quiroga’s daughter said CPS officials came to her school to ask her questions about what happened. She said they also asked her “dumb” questions, like does her family hate her, or does her mother try to hit her or kill her in her dreams.

She also never saw any counselors or social workers.

“I didn’t want any therapy because I hated men for a year and all the psychologists were men,” she said.

Her father said John Duffy, a school board lawyer, asked if he was legal here and had threatened to call immigration at CPS headquarters before Sander’s deposition.

“I told him that if he thought we were illegal that I had the telephone number to immigration in my phone and if he wanted me to call, they could come to investigate me, but if they thought it was a prank call, they would investigate (Duffy) for malicious prosecution,” Quiroga said. “Then he backed off.”

According to Quiroga, many Mexican parents were afraid to sign his petition to have the principal removed because they are undocumented.

Epstein told Chicago News that he voluntarily dismissed the case after they won the appeal on his trespassing conviction so they could include malicious prosecution. They had also found additional witnesses, he said, but it was too late to include them in the lawsuit.

“You can refile the case within one year of your non-suit within the statute of limitations,” Epstein said in an email. “However, I judge refilling as one year as it is the prudent course to take. I believe she can still refile the case if she has not reached 20. However, that issue should be researched.”

Quiroga said he plans to refile the case.


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