I’m Michael Kelly, Chicago Park District General Superintendent and CEO. I’m here today to announce the latest developments related to the Office of Inspector General’s ongoing investigation of misconduct and abuse within the District’s Beaches and Pools Unit.
Since initiating the OIG investigation in March of last year, we have taken disciplinary action against 42 employees, including two high-level management staff. The Assistant Director of Beaches and Pools and Beaches and Pools Manager were both placed on emergency suspension last Friday based on information provided by the Inspector General.
These employees will remain on emergency suspension pending the final outcome of the OIG investigation.
Currently, there are seven additional employees who remain on emergency suspension related to the investigation; six others have resigned and have been placed on the Do Not Hire list, excluding them from future employment with the Park District.
The remaining employees have either received a written reprimand, suspension, chose to resign or were terminated and are no longer eligible for future employment with the District.
Despite recent reports, I have always taken these allegations with the utmost seriousness, which is why I initiated investigations with Chicago Park District management and the OIG.
My commitment has not wavered. I will see this investigation to completion and continue to do everything in my power to root out the bad actors and behavior.
I understand the frustration with the time it has taken to look into these complaints. Investigations never happen fast enough. But I assure every person who has been impacted by this case, that this is top of mind for me since the day I learned about it.
My office continues to cooperate with the OIG and put measures in place to train, support and protect our workforce. This includes the creation of the Office of Protection, intended to serve and an intake point for verification, assessment and assignment of complaints and concerns related to harassment, bullying and workplace hostilities.
I’ve done my research and understand where the gaps in reporting exists. We will build a top line reporting system that will become a model for park agencies across the nation. I will use my position as the Chair of the National Recreation and Park Association to amplify the importance of creating systems that protect park employees and foster a healthy, respectful work environment.
I’d like to thank the courageous women who wrote the letters that sparked the investigation. We are now able to uncover a culture that clearly began decades ago. Their bravery has helped us put systems in place to that will encourage people to break their silence and facilitate a healthy workplace not only at our beaches and pools but throughout the District.
We owe all those who have come forward a debt of gratitude.