The Chicago Sun-Times published an article revealing that the military education chief who oversaw the Chicago Public School’s (CPS) military instruction program, Col. Daniel Baggio, has resigned after “systemic failures” in his handling of a sex abuse case.
According to CPS, 7,300 students are enrolled in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) program across 44 schools. This makes the Chicago JROTC the largest in the nation. An investigation by the CPS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) exposed widespread failures regarding Baggio’s oversight of Chicago’s JROTC.
Investigation Leads to Resignation
The OIG investigation revealed that Baggio failed to notify local and state officials of the suspected abuse of a student at Roosevelt High School in February 2019. Baggio’s inaction allowed the JROTC instructor to continue to sexually abuse the student for another nine months. The instructor was eventually arrested, ending the abuse. Last semester (Spring 2022), Col. Baggio signed a severance agreement with the district following the investigation.
Following the CPS sexual abuse scandal exposed by the Chicago Tribune the polices protecting students from sexual misconduct have began to be rewritten. Even with these updated polices in place, under Baggio, at least six CPS JROTC instructors and administrative personnel were implicated for failure to report abuse or for abusing students according to OIG records.
With Baggio’s resignation, questions are being raised as to whether the overhauled protocols are being effectively applied to charter schools and ancillary programs such as JROTC. CPS did issue a statement saying student protection protocols apply to all programs including military courses.
Allegations of Sexual Abuse Not Reported
Personnel records with the district reveal the Baggio joined CPS in 2013. Following a 30-year military career where he specialized in public affairs, Baggio taught JROTC to high school students for a few years. He was then put in charge of overseeing programs at nearly four dozen campuses across Chicago, where 120 military instructors operated various JROTC courses.
The case that led to Baggio’s resignation occurred at Albany Park’s Roosevelt High School when sexual abuse allegations surfaced against an instructor named Brian Travis in 2019. The OIG investigation says that a student alerted military instructor, Sgt. Marvin Jamison, that “something is going on” between a 16 year old female student and Travis. Jamison said he alerted Baggio about the allegations the same day.
The OIG report says that in response, Baggio instructed Jamison to speak to Travis to “watch” how he behaves and to be careful with “what he’s doing”. Confronting Travis, Jamison told him, “the word around here is that you’re messing around with one of these kids. It needs to stop.”
In response to Jamison’s confrontation, Travis texted the student that evening about his concern that Jamison would report hime. Police records say Travis told the student at a later time that he could hire someone to kill Jamison to conceal the fact they were having sex. Baggio’s failure to report the alleged abuse to Roosevelt’s leadership or to state Chile welfare officials violated both CPS policy and state law according to the OIG.
Baggio was found to have violated district policy by encouraging a direct conversation with Travis according to the OIG as this risked interfering with the investigation. According to Baggio, he did not believe that he mishandled the situation as he did not attempt to cover up the incident. He told the OIG because he did not have specific details about the allegations, he did not take any further action.
JROTC Instructor Under Baggio’s Oversight Arrested for Assault
CPS records show that at the end of the 2019 school year, Travis was reassigned from Roosevelt to an administrative role in the district’s central office. At this time, Travis was given a pay raise at Baggio’s request. That Christmas, Travis was attempting to board a flight to Mexico when he was arrested on sexual assault charges. Before Travis’ arrest, the student told police that Travis had threaten to kill her, her family, and her friends if she disclosed their relationship to anyone. In 2020, Travis plead guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse charges.
The CPS JROTC program was continued to be run by Baggio until November, 2021, when he was suspended with pay while the district investigated the Travis case and a separated case at the Marine Leadership Academy in Logan Square. In the Logan Square case, 13 adults – including three military instructors – were found to have covered up or committed sexual misconduct with students. The OIG found this misconduct was a direct result of the failure of military education leaders to conduct proper oversight of military instructors at the Marine Leadership Academy.
The U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees JROTC programs, has yet to make a final decision on whether Baggio will be decertified as a JROTC official. Until June 30, 2022, Baggio remained employed, and kept some benefits related to his job. His severance agreement did not place Baggio on the CPS “do not hire” list, but he did agree to not seek future employment with the district. The reason stated for separation cites a, “mutual desire of the parties to move in a new direction.”
Estey & Bomberger Investigates Claims of Abuse
Considering Baggio’s tenure with CPS JROTC, the team at Estey & Bomberger believes there may be other victims who have yet to come forward. Our trauma informed law firm is investigating whether there are more JROTC instructors who sexually assaulted or abused students for the nearly ten years Baggio oversaw the program at the nearly fifty campuses across greater Chicago. If you, a loved one, or a friend suffered abuse as a cadet at a Chicago JROTC program, we can help you achieve justice.
We are more than just a law firm. Our team includes certified sexual abuse victim advocates who help our clients work through their trauma so they can move forward with their lives. Our compassionate lawyers have a perfect record holding sexual predators accountable for their actions. We work tirelessly to not only secure our clients justice and fair compensation, but also to make institutional changes to protect future students from suffering similar abuse.
So that potential clients can learn more, we offer confidential and completely free consultations. During your free consultation, you will speak to a sexual abuse attorney who will listen to your story and answer any questions you may have regarding your case. This allows you to make an informed decision before continuing with our firm. Know that we have your back and will be with you at every step of the way.
We never charge a fee unless we win, and we have never lost a sexual abuse case. To learn more about how we can help, or to schedule a confidential and free consultation, contact us today.