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Teachers Union Calls 'No Confidence' Vote For CPS Head Forrest Claypool

By Heather Cherone | May 12, 2017 2:02pm | Updated on May 15, 2017 8:44am
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with CPS chief Forrest Claypool behind him, telling students that they will not miss any school days this year despite a massive CPS budget hole.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with CPS chief Forrest Claypool behind him, telling students that they will not miss any school days this year despite a massive CPS budget hole.
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DNAinfo/David Matthews

CHICAGO — Teachers are set to take a vote of no confidence in Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool Monday through Wednesday of next week, Chicago Teachers Union leaders announced Friday.

Union officials have long been critical of Claypool, with delegates approving a resolution calling on the former aide to Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign in February.

The vote comes after a week when the financial crisis engulfing Chicago schools widened with the revelation that the state of Illinois owes Chicago Public Schools approximately $467 million in grants — on top of the district's budget deficit of $129 million, created after Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill in November that would have given Chicago's schools $215 million.

“Some people have greatest hits and some have greatest misses, and the list of Forrest’s greatest misses is long,” CTU President Karen Lewis said in a statement.

The vote is designed to "highlight the failure of district leadership to advocate for our schools and students, and refusal to take the actions needed to properly fund and protect CPS," according to a statement from the union.

In a statement, Emanuel praised Claypool, and continued to blame Rauner for creating the crisis.

"Forrest has handled a difficult job incredibly well, a job that is made even more difficult given the governor's refusal to fund our students the same way he funds students everywhere else in the state," Emanuel said in a statement. "Forrest has my complete confidence. The person who doesn't is Bruce Rauner, and when it comes to the education of our students that's where our collective energy should be focused."

Results are expected to be announced May 23, one day before the council could vote to bailout CPS.

In a statement, Claypool called the no confidence vote a "sideshow" and echoed his boss' criticism of Rauner, a Republican.


"CTU should be fighting along side us in the courts and in Springfield, where the union continues to let Gov. Rauner off the hook for his racially discriminatory funding of CPS," Claypool said in a statement.

In addition, the vote is designed to allow teachers to register their displeasure with Claypool's "targeting and firing of experienced teachers as the result of Claypool’s harmful privatization, evaluation and budgeting schemes," according to the union.

"Targeting CTU activists for termination and discipline has also been the CPS CEO’s method of punishment imposed upon outspoken advocates for students and school communities," according to the union, which cited six cases of teachers being reprimanded for objecting to district policies.

Those teachers include Sarah Chambers, an eight-year special education teacher at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy, who is campaigning to save her job.

Despite CPS' massive budget shortfall, Emanuel said again that schools will stay open until the end of the regularly scheduled school year. He has yet to detail a plan on how he plans to ensure that the district can keep classroom lights on — and pay its employees' pension fund $721 million by June 30.

City officials are looking at every option to fill the budget gap, Emanuel said.

In October, teachers union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said Claypool was unfit to lead the district.

Claypool, who served as the mayor's chief of staff before taking over the 380,000-student school district in July 2015, is "not knowledgeable about the education system,” Sharkey said at the time.

Claypool replaced former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who was sentenced April 29 to 4 ½ years in prison for steering a $23 million principal training contract to a firm where she worked before being tapped by Emanuel to lead the district in the wake of the 2012 teachers strike.

Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson — a former teacher and principal — has begun appearing more frequently at CPS events with Emanuel. She also helped to negotiate a new contract for the teachers union this fall.

The Sun-Times reported earlier this week that tensions between Emanuel and Claypool are running high amid the budget crisis, leading to whispers at City Hall that he could be replaced by Jackson.