Rahm on Vacation As School Closings List Leaks

By Ted CoxMark Konkol and Lizzie Schiffman Tufano  on March 21, 2013 2:04pm

 The timing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spring-break family trip has left Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett to bear the brunt of criticism.
The timing of Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spring-break family trip has left Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett to bear the brunt of criticism.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — As the list of Chicago Public Schools closings trickled out, churning up angry emotions throughout the city, many politicians and community leaders began to wonder, "Where's Rahm?"

"I thought they might wait another week while the mayor is out of town, but maybe not," said Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd).

"I don't think that squares up with the kind of leadership he's talked about," Waguespack. "He should be front and center on this whole thing."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel's spokesman Sarah Hamilton said the mayor takes a vacation with his family at this time every year and will be returning to Chicago on Friday.

The Emanuels are reportedly on a ski trip in Utah. His three children attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, which is on spring break this week.

Although CPS has not formally announced its list of schools to be closed or merged — believed to include as many as 50 closings or more and 20 additional to be merged — the list has started to leak out almost one by one after aldermen were briefed.

Stephanie Gadlin, spokeswoman for the Chicago Teachers Unions, said union president Karen Lewis considers the mayor's absence "cowardly."

"Karen has said it's cowardly to do this and shows a lack of leadership on behalf of the mayor," Gadlin said.

Lewis has long sparred with Emanuel, most notably throughout last year's teachers strike.

The mayor was also criticized by education activists on Twitter. In a tweet, education activist Matt Farmer poked fun at Emanuel.

"Asked, while skiing in Utah, about closing 50 CPS schools, Mayor Emanuel said he is offering thousands of kids the chance to head downhill," Farmer tweeted.

The Beachwood Reporter also joined in on the jabs, tweeting "CPS to close schools in every neighborhood Rahm has never been to."

Ald. Toni Foulkes (15th) said aldermen were being told of closures in their wards, and many expressed hope they could still be saved.

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