Stories by Matt Masterson

CTU Files Complaint Over School Reopening, Quality of Ventilation System

(WTTW News)

“We all want to return to our students. We don’t want to die doing our jobs, and we don’t want to be vectors for spreading illness or death to our students and their families,” CTU Vice President Stacy Davis Gates said.

Half of Illinois’ Counties Now at Warning Level for COVID-19

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike speaks Friday, Oct. 23, 2020 during Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 press briefing. (WTTW News)

“The way we work, the way we live, the way we play have all changed,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the state’s top doctor, said Friday. “The harsh reality is that the sacrifices we’ve made and that we continue to make do not have a future expiration date.”

‘It Is Very Serious Right Now’: Pritzker Warns Upcoming COVID-19 Peak Could Be Worse Than Spring

(WTTW News)

Speaking on a day when Illinois reported nearly 5,000 new COVID-19 cases, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the state will act to punish businesses and establishments that fail to abide by mandated coronavirus mitigation requirements.

CPS Expanding Voting Options For Upcoming Local School Council Elections

(WTTW News)

With local school council elections coming next month, Chicago Public Schools has announced it will let families choose between voting in person at their school, submitting their ballot by mail or dropping off their mail-in ballot at their school.

New Pilot Program Will Pair Mental Health Experts With Police on Certain Crisis Calls

(WTTW News)

Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly said she’s not in favor of defunding the Chicago Police Department, but with position reductions, budget cuts and investments in a new pilot program, the city may be rethinking the way policing will work.

Expansion of Pre-K Options in Chicago Led to Jump in Black Student Enrollment: Study

(ePhotographyAustralia / Pixabay)

After policy changes were made to improve equitable enrollment, students of color and those from low-income households were three times more likely to enroll in full-day pre-K, according to a new report from the University of Chicago.

Chicago Receives $1M Federal Grant to Improve Sexual Assault Kit Testing

Medical professionals learn how to use the Sexual Assault Evidence Collection kit, which has several packets to collect evidence from a suspect and a patient of a sexual assault case. (Sgt. Rebecca Linder / Wikimedia Commons)

The city this week will receive a $1 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to aid in the testing and tracking of sexual assault kits, many of which have been held up in a statewide backlog that dates back decades.

CPS Enrollment Drops By 15K Students Amid Pandemic, Remote Learning

(WTTW News)

The school district announced Friday morning that its citywide enrollment had fallen from 355,156 in the 2019-20 school year to 340,658 this year.

Netflix Star Jerry Harris to Remain in Jail Pending Trial on Child Pornography Charge

Dirksen United States Courthouse (Ken Lund / Flickr)

A federal judge has ordered Jeremiah “Jerry” Harris, star of the Netflix documentary series “Cheer,” to remain in jail pending trial on a charge he sexually exploited underage children.

Ex-Top Cop Eddie Johnson Sued For Sexual Harassment By Female Officer

Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Aug. 9, 2018.

Cynthia Donald, who filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cook County Court, claimed that for more than three years, she was subjected to “unwanted and uninvited sexual advances” from Johnson inside his office at CPD headquarters.

Mother of 2 Boys Accusing Jerry Harris of Sexual Exploitation Asks Judge to Keep Netflix Star in Jail Pending Trial

Dirksen United States Courthouse (Ken Lund / Flickr)

A federal judge will decide whether “Cheer” star Jeremiah “Jerry” Harris will be held in jail or released as he awaits trial on a single count of producing child pornography.

CPS Aiming to Increase Teacher Diversity Through New Partnership

(WTTW News)

Chicago Public Schools says it wants to triple the number of district graduates it hires annually as teachers, and through a new partnership, it’s planning to make the majority of those hires people of color.

COVID-19 in Illinois: 2,742 New Cases, 13 Additional Deaths

(WTTW News)

Illinois’ seven-day positivity rate is up to 4.3%, nearly a full percentage point higher than it was a week ago, according to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Illinois Court Dismisses Jason Van Dyke’s Appeal in Murder of Laquan McDonald

Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke enters the courtroom for his sentencing hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke, who was convicted of second-degree murder of Black teen Laquan McDonald in 2014, is expected to be released in February 2022. While he remains in custody, it’s unclear where he will serve the remainder of his sentence.

Man Charged with Attempting to Use Explosive Device at Naperville Restaurant

(Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

Diego Vargas, 24, was charged in U.S. District Court in Chicago this week with a single count of maliciously attempting to damage and destroy a building by means of an explosive device.

Arrests Made in Just 10%-20% of Chicago’s Sex Crimes Over Past Decade: Report

(WTTW News)

The Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation found that between 2010 and 2019, 80-90% of sexual harm reports made to the police department did not result in an arrest.

Chicago Woman Facing Several Charges After Alleged Attempt to Run Police Officers Down

(WTTW News)

Prosecutors say Dawn Moore set out to commit “as much mayhem and damage as she could” when she allegedly used a Jeep to chase down multiple Chicago police officers and squad vehicles during an unrelated traffic stop Wednesday.

Aldermen Seek Equal Pay for City Colleges Adjunct Faculty

Malcolm X College (Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr)

“For many of us, financial ruin is simply one bad day away,” said the head of the union representing 1,000-plus City Colleges adjunct faculty members who are seeking a new contract guaranteeing pay equity.

Teachers Pension Fund Official Describes ‘Racist,’ ‘Sexist’ Culture Among Board Trustees

(WTTW News)

The head of the board handling the Chicago Teachers Union’s pension fund disclosed a toxic culture among trustees and claimed some union members had been pushing to hire former staffers of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

CTU: Schools Must Improve Ventilation, Safety Before In-Person Learning Resumes

(WTTW News)

“While we’re very, very conscious that people want to get their kids back in schools, we want to be back in school too,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said Monday. “It’s also critical that people be safe. You can’t learn if you’re dead.”

No Criminal Charges To Be Filed Against Suburban Police Officer in Killing of Jemel Roberson

Manny’s Blue Room Lounge in Robbins (WTTW News)

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said her office concluded that the “totality of the evidence is insufficient” to support criminal charges against Midlothian police Officer Ian Covey for the fatal 2018 shooting of Jemel Roberson, a Black security guard.

Chicago Sees Deadliest September Since Early 1990s With 81 Homicides

(WTTW News)

Last month, Chicago recorded its deadliest September in more than 25 years as the city approaches 600 homicides in 2020 with a quarter of the year still left to go.

Condition of Horse Ridden on Dan Ryan by ‘Dreadhead Cowboy’ Said to be Improving

The “Dreadhead Cowboy” is seen on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago. (Courtesy Vashon Jordan Jr. / @vashon_photo)

Adam Hollingsworth, the man known as the “Dreadhead Cowboy,” has not yet entered a plea on a felony animal abuse charge, but the condition of the horse he rode for more than 7 miles during rush hour is reportedly improving.

CPD’s Looting Task Force Leads to 74 Arrests, Hundreds of Tips Since Launch

(WTTW News)

Chicago police Superintendent David Brown said he has consistently asked for longer sentences for the “looters, thieves and vandals” who have been arrested after breaking into businesses across Chicago in recent months.

No Bond For Chicago Mother Charged in Fatal Stabbing of 5-Year-Old Daughter

(WTTW News)

Simone Austin, charged with one count of first-degree murder, was denied bond during her initial court appearance Monday, two days after she allegedly stabbed Serenity Arrington in the throat as the girl’s 8-year-old sister fought to save her life.

Chicago Police Announce Arrests From Operation Targeting Mid-Level Drug Traffickers

(WTTW News)

Superintendent David Brown said the charges came as part of “Operation Split Corners,” a three-month Chicago Police Department undertaking in the 15th (Austin) and 25th (Grand Central) Districts.