CPS launching anti-bias initiative and joining Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation

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Chicago Public School’s departing CEO Janice Jackson says a new program expected to launch this fall that will make it easier for students and teachers to report bias-based incidents marks her final contribution to a slate of civil rights initiatives she described as among the proudest achievements during her tenure.

“I will no longer be leading the district when that framework is released, but I want to assure all of you that student safety will remain a top priority for the district moving forward, regardless of who the CEO is,” Jackson said at a May 27 “Transforming Bias-based Harm” virtual town hall meeting.

The new initiative — which is arriving five years after Jackson created the Office of Student Protections and Title IX, aims to ensure every CPS school offers students and educators equitable, inclusive and safe learning and working environments that are free from sexual harassment and misconduct and discrimination based on race, ability, sex and gender, officials said.

CPS officials also plan to join forces in the fall with Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, which is “aimed at demonstrating the power of kindness to impact well-being, validating the emotions of young people everywhere, and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health,” according to the foundation website.

Maurice Swinney, chief equity officer for CPS, said the stepped-up effort to promote safe and bias-free schools is arriving at a time when students have faced a series of dire hardships during the pandemic.

“Coming off COVID and racial injustice and civic unrest, there’s so much that’s happened, and this is one of the ways we want to support students and families,” Swinney said.

kcullotta@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kcullotta

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