Hearing officer Gilbert Grossi, a retired judge, acknowledged that both Alds. Leslie Hairston (5th) and Will Burns (4th) opposed the plan, but said in his report released earlier this week that CPS complied with all legal requirements.
Burns charged that CPS’ plan to close the middle school at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. violated the law because parents of students at nearby Shoesmith Elementary School were not notified of the hearings, Grossi said in his report.
Previously, Burns was in favor of closing Canter, but advocated for a phased shutdown that would allow current seventh graders to finish eighth grade at the school.
It is unclear from the report when Burns made the accusation to Grossi that CPS violated the law. In transcripts of the public hearing, Burns does not advocate keeping Hyde Park’s only middle school open and makes no claims of illegality.
Burns was unavailable for comment on Wednesday.
Grossi acknowledged in his report the “Case for Canter” brief prepared by a group of Hyde Park teachers and parents and a proposal to add sixth grade to Canter to keep it open.
“Suggestions and topics suggested by the public were passionately expressed and very thoughtful, especially the ‘Case for Canter’ and the proposal to accept sixth grade into Canter to increase enrollment,” Grossi says. “I am not in a position to assess the feasibility of the sixth grade proposal. Only the CEO and Board [of Education] can make that determination, which I urge them to do, if they have not already, before their final decision.”
He also noted a University of Chicago survey that shows Canter is well-positioned for improvement.
The survey of three-quarters of students and teachers at Canter found that families were involved, leadership was effective and teachers worked collaboratively. Canter ranked well above the CPS average in all three areas, according to the survey.
In spite of these arguments, Grossi found that CPS complied with all laws and recommended the Board of Education vote to close the school.