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Students, Teachers Must Go To School April 1 Despite Shutdown Threat: CPS

By Ted Cox | March 10, 2016 4:47pm
 CPS CEO Forrest Claypool turned a jaundiced eye toward the April 1
CPS CEO Forrest Claypool turned a jaundiced eye toward the April 1 "day of action" called by the teacher union, saying he expected teachers and students to be in class.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

THE LOOP — The chief of Chicago Public Schools laid down the law Thursday on an April 1 "day of action" called by the Chicago Teachers Union, saying it's "a school day" and teachers and students are expected to be in class.

"I want to make it clear," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool. "April 1 is a school day. It's a regular school day. And we expect that our students and our teachers will be there as always."

Part of the problem, Claypool said, is that the union itself hasn't been clear on what its plans are.

"We're still monitoring the situation," he added. "We've heard so many different things, we really don't know what they are intending."

 Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has called April 1
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has called April 1 "a showdown" and "a day of action," but hasn't yet explained specifically what the union plans.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

According to Claypool, union President Karen Lewis has said "a number of different things," from calling it a "showdown" to "a day of action" to what he called "an illegal strike for a day."

The union posted a flyer on its website Wednesday calling for city residents to "shut it down" in "a march and a day of direct action" against Gov. Bruce Rauner, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and billionaire Ken Griffin. That was after it posted an event on its Facebook page calling for "all concerned Chicago citizens" to take part April 1 in "withholding your labor, withholding your dollars, boycotting the Magnificent Mile" and other actions.

Yet, even there, a line recommending "boycotting classrooms" had been edited out by Thursday.

The union did little to clear things up Thursday.

Spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said the union's House of Delegates "will determine the full nature of the April 1 demonstration" in meetings set for this weekend. "But as of now we plan to call for a work action," she added, that phrase usually meaning a strike or walkout of some sort.

"As for what’s being called for," Gadlin said, "people are saying this is a showdown, others are saying they've shut us down and so we'll shut them down and still others say they are standing up against the mayor, governor and the people who are driving this city and state into the ground. Citizens are coming together to fight for their futures."

Yet what they'll be doing that April 1 has yet to be determined.

Claypool said CPS is already talking with parents on what course of action the district will take if "there's an illegal activity on that day."