LAKEVIEW — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders slammed Chicago Public Schools and spoke out in support of ousted Principal Troy LaRaviere Thursday, one day after the district removed him from Blaine Elementary.
"The only explanation for his removal appears to be Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel's unhealthy obsession with taking revenge," Sanders said in a statement. "It is absolutely unacceptable that a school principal is facing politically motivated retaliation because he dared to stand up to the mayor of Chicago."
Sanders, who featured LaRaviere in a campaign ad, pointed to LaRaviere's multiple merit awards from the district and Blaine's reputation as a top elementary school in Chicago as signs of his success as a principal.
"I condemn Principal LaRaviere's reassignment and call on Democrats around the country to stand up against Mayor Emanuel's pettiness," Sanders said from Reading, Pennsylvania.
Emanuel "does not interfere" with personnel matters at CPS, spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said Thursday.
LaRaviere will, in fact, be one of Sanders' at-large delegates during the Democratic National Convention in July, the campaign said.
"He's our guy. He's one of our people," said Clem Balanoff, who directed Sanders' Illinois campaign. "He's been with us from the beginning, and I can't imagine him not being part of the campaign."
While LaRaviere was on the Illinois primary ballot as an elected delegate, he came in eighth for six available slots in the 5th District of Illinois. Those chosen as pledged delegates include Sanders supporter Ald. John Arena (45th) and state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, a pledged Hillary Clinton delegate.
Wednesday was LaRaviere's last day at Blaine, and he was "reassigned from his principal duties," according to an email sent to parents from Elizabeth Kirby, chief of schools strategy and planning for CPS.
The district is accusing LaRaviere of "acts of misconduct, including violations of a previous warning resolution passed by the Board of Education," CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said. "A hearing will be held to determine his employment status."
LaRaviere has said publicly that he does not know the cause of his reassignment. Bittner said LaRaviere failed to show up for a meeting Wednesday with district officials to discuss his removal and employment status.
The next step is a pre-suspension hearing "to determine whether there is a sufficient basis to suspend Principal LaRaviere without pay," Bittner said, although that move would need approval from the Illinois State Board of Education.
A source familiar with the situation said LaRaviere was not given a new position within CPS and was told to stay home in the interim.
CPS told LaRaviere that he could be dismissed should he continue to speak out against district directives, guidelines or rules. The principal has been a staunch critic of CPS and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, blasting the district for "reckless fiscal operational and educational mismanagement" even after the warning.
LaRaviere also served as an adviser to Jesus "Chuy" Garcia in his unsuccessful attempt to unseat Emanuel in last year's mayoral election. In March, he was featured in an ad for Sanders.
While some parents said it was necessary to separate politics from education, others stood behind LaRaviere. On Thursday, LaRaviere supports also started tweeting with the hashtag #StandWithTroy in a show of support.
It's unclear whether LaRaviere will still be eligible to run for president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. Nominated in late February, LaRaviere said he hoped to find a way to continue working at Blaine if elected in May.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: