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Chicago Sun-Times

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is calling for a "thorough investigation" of Chicago Public Schools basketball teams a day after learning of what he called "widespread incompetence" by CPS officials.

On Tuesday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that CPS officials can't say for sure that basketball players at every school - including the top teams - were eligible to play.

The school district is missing most of the paperwork required to show team and player eligibility, according to documents.

But earlier this year, Curie High School, the Sun-Times' No. 1-ranked team, was stripped of its city title and 24 victories for the season after a CPS investigation revealed that seven Curie basketball players had been ineligible for the entire season because the correct paperwork hadn't been filed. The investigation into Curie was spurred by an anonymous tip.

Jackson, who has been a champion of the Curie players since the debacle began earlier this year, said Tuesday he had tried reaching CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale, though he had not spoken to them Tuesday afternoon.

"This was the burden on them to protect these children," Jackson said speaking about the Curie players. "They've been stigmatized. The coach has been stigmatized. The school has been stigmatized."

Jackson said he wants Curie's championship to be restored.

"I want to appeal to them to do a through investigation to see if undue harm was done to these kids," he said.

CPS has reformed its eligibility accounting system, district officials said in a statement. From now on, athletic directors will be required to update eligibility forms on a weekly basis and provide referees in all sports with updated eligibility sheets before each game.

Also, regional athletic directors and CPS sports administration officials will conduct random check-ins to ensure that eligibility forms have been submitted, that only eligible students are participating and that students with special academic needs are receiving the necessary support.

June 11, 2014

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