The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

LaRaviere Hearing Postponed As Blaine School Insists 'We Are Still Blaine'

By Ariel Cheung | May 3, 2016 5:12am
 Parents and community supporters packed the Blaine Elementary auditorium April 25 during a meeting to discuss the removal of Principal Troy LaRaviere.
Parents and community supporters packed the Blaine Elementary auditorium April 25 during a meeting to discuss the removal of Principal Troy LaRaviere.
View Full Caption
DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung

LAKEVIEW — The battle over Blaine Elementary's principalship just got a little longer.

Ousted Principal Troy LaRaviere delayed his pre-suspension hearing that had been set for last Friday, Chicago Public Schools said. At LaRaviere's request, the hearing will be rescheduled for next week, a spokesman said.

The hearing, which is closed to the public, will determine whether LaRaviere can be suspended without pay before CPS moves to dismiss him — a process expected to take six to nine months.

LaRaviere could be reinstated at Blaine if he can lobby a successful defense at his dismissal hearing, although it could be a brief reunion if he is elected president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

LaRaviere declined comment Friday.

The delay is bad news for Blaine's Local School Council. Members voiced hopes last week that the hearing would reveal more on charges against LaRaviere before the council takes action.

While CPS officials said the district cannot legally release the charges, LaRaviere is free to publish them on his own. The LSC said he is consulting with his attorney on the appropriate time to do so.

In the meantime, school leaders are calling on the Blaine community to remember that "we are still Blaine," playing off the school's rallying slogan.

"We are stronger when we come together," said LSC Chair Gina Abbatemarco. "If we can't face the long road ahead together, these divisions are only going to keep us from the important work we have ahead."

Following LaRaviere's removal, the LSC sought clarification on the powers his temporary replacement has within the school. Retired principal Pedro Alonso was called in to serve as the administrator in-charge — a specific title within the district that can only be held for 100 days each school year.

Compared to interim principals, such administrators lack the authority to hire or fire staff and serve mostly as a figurehead who can sign off on budgets and other administrative decisions, Alonso said. He pledged to defer to the LSC and Blaine's two assistant principals, Gary Norcross and Angela Brito, when it came to such decisions.

"It's your school and your children. You're invested in it, so please feel free to do what's best for your school," Alonso told LSC members.

Blaine Elementary Principal Troy LaRaviere (middle) at a past LSC meeting. [DNAinfo/Serena Dai]

LaRaviere's position is not considered vacant at this time, meaning CPS cannot appoint an interim principal or begin the hiring process with the LSC. If either assistant principal were to take on the interim role, it would mean vacating their current positions with no promise of retaining them once a new principal is chosen, Norcross said.

The council also discussed its role moving forward. As some parents called on it to remain neutral, others said the council should push back harder against the district's decision and vocally support LaRaviere.

"We're not sure if we're the right people to be advocating for [LaRaviere]," said parent representative Bill Gladden. "Our role is to help the students and the school move forward."

The LSC members opted to wait for more information before taking a public stance regarding the principal whose contract they unanimously renewed last year.

"It would be a big mistake without knowing what the charges and some of the evidence are," said Abby Sullivan, LSC vice chair. "We have generalities, but we don't have specifics."

LaRaviere, an outspoken critic of CPS "mismanagement" and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was ousted April 20. He was pulled from Blaine and sent home, an alterative to reassignment within the network office, CPS said.

Parents wear #StandWithTroy T-shirts in support of ousted Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere as leaders of the PTA and Local School Council discuss his surprise reassignment. [DNAinfo/Ariel Cheung]

Outraged parents and community supporters slammed CPS officials for the decision, as well as for flubbing the email notification sent to some parents and students in the middle of spring break.

In the week following, LaRaviere garnered support from prominent politicians including presidential candidate and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders "condemned" the move and blamed it on Emanuel's revenge "obsession."

A huge crowd shouted down CPS officials during a hearing last week, demanding answers as to why LaRaviere was removed with mere weeks remaining in the school year.

While parents did speak out passionately at the April 25 meeting, it also attracted a "very vocal" crowd from outside the Blaine community who focused on issues beyond LaRaviere's removal, Abbatemarco said.

"I was kind of disappointed the parents didn't get as much opportunity as I would have liked to be able to answer all questions," she said. "We need to keep the school on track and do the best job we can for our students."


No Regrets For Using N-Word Over Blaine Principal Ouster, Ald. Moore Says

Troy LaRaviere Accused By CPS Of Misusing Equipment, Accounting Missteps

Troy LaRaviere Supporters Rally At Blaine, Outraged By Unexpected Ouster

Bernie Sanders Slams Ouster Of Troy LaRaviere As Rahm's Revenge 'Obsession'

Troy LaRaviere, Outspoken CPS Principal and Rahm Critic, Ousted

Staunch Rahm Critic Could Lead Chicago Principals

Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere Won't 'Turn A Blind Eye,' Despite Warning

CPS Tell Principal 'Do Not Be Insubordinate' — Or Find A New Job

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: