Michael Scott death will resonate in 2010 across Chicago's public schools

The November 16, 2009, death of Michael Scott in the middle of the night at a lonely spot beside the Chicago River near Kinzie Street was just about wrapped up as a news story by New Year's Day 2010. Scott's pictures were in the papers as the major events of Chicago's 2009 were summed up. Even the controversial immediate ruling by the Cook County Medical Examiner that Scott had committee suicide was finally affirmed, after nearly a month, by the Chicago Police Department, following a lengthy investigation.

Protesters outside the February 2009 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education were not impressed with the announcement that former Board President Michael Scott had resumed the post following the ouster of Scott's successor and predecessor Rufus Williams in January 2009. During the demonstrations against the school closings, phase outs, and turnarounds outside the Board meeting on February 25, 2009, several protesters carried signs that read; "He's worse than a drug dealer. He's a real estate developer!" a quote from the HBO series "The Wire" that proved to contain more truth than most people knew about Scott at the time. Following Scott's November 2009 death, Chicago learned that Scott's real estate development partnership was not registered with the Illinois Secretary of State and that Scott had been receiving free rent for his offices from a real estate developer who had been hoping to win a half billion dollar grant from the city to privately develop the land over the railroads south of Chicago's Loop. The Chicago media still hasn't reported on the extensive real estate deals that Scott engaged in on the city's West Side prior to the rejection of Chicago by the international Olympic Committee one month before Scott's death. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.But for many Chicagoans, especially those whose schools were closed by Michael Scott and Arne Duncan, more questions remain than answers. So in the coming year, as Substance Editor George Schmidt has promised, Substance will continue to update news of Michael Scott's careers at the Chicago Board of Education, the Chicago Park District, "McPier", and, not the least, the Public Building Commission of the City of Chicago.

Other questions still make the night of November 15 - 16 a story worthy of the news, and not simply a burial. Was Mayor Daley at the scene of Scott's death after receiving a police call in the early morning hours of November 16. Have all the tapes supposedly showing Scott's newly purchased Cadillac careening around that night made part of the public record when Police Supt. Jody Weiss declared that the police, too, found Scott's death a suicide?

One of the most interesting pieces of the history consists of the "Hood News" tapes showing Michael Scott and Arne Duncan in the backroom at Edna's Restaurant with Congressman Danny Davis and State Senator Ricky Hendon. What were they discussing a week before Scott voted to close and privatize Collins High School (one of six African American public high schools that were destroyed by Scott's vote and Duncan's recommendation during the Scott years).

The death of Chicago School Board President Michael Scott was ruled a suicide on the afternoon of November 17, 2009 by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Scott died of a gunshot wound to the head, officials said. Of course, the web Scott operated in is now a hotbed of conspiracy theories. The Chicago Board of Education cancelled its regularly scheduled meeting of November 18, 2009, and finally held the meeting, with a flower spread in front of the chair once occupied by Scott, on Monday, November 23, 2009. Memorial services were held on November 21 (privately) and November 22 (a big event managed by the CPS Communications Department at the University of Illinois Chicago campus).

The November 23 Board meeting devoted more than half its time to eulogies and memorials for Scott. The memorials continued at the December 16, 2009, Board meeting, with the presentation of a plaque to Scott's survivors.

But there were many other sides to Michael Scott's career, and they will be updated at Substance. A piece of that history, from 2006, is worth keeping alive here.

some history on scott showing he was not as honest as everyone says.

"Selling out the community Danny Davis, Ricky Hendon, Michael Scott and Arne Duncan" is a three-part series of videos created by a group of community activists (some of them ex-offenders with a new career in street wise news reporting) the month after Scott voted to destroy Collins High School. "Selling out the community is in three parts.

Part 1of3 introduces a backroom meeting on the west side of Chicago with some major players. A tip was given regarding this meeting to discuss the closing of Collins High School to turn them into Daley-run Charter Schools public schools on the west side. We don't know what was being discussed before the cameras turned on, but it sure looked shady in 2006, and deserves a second and third look in 2010.

Selling Out the Community Danny Davis, Rickey Hendon, Arne Duncan and Michael Scott Part 2

Selling out the community Danny Davis, Ricky Hendon, Arne Duncan and Michael Scott Part 3

Substance reporter and Senn High School Chicago Teachers Union delegate Jesse Sharkey led one of the earliest fights against the Daley plans for Chicago school — the placement of a military "high schools" inside Senn High School on the city's north side. Daley pushed the deal, Arne Duncan created the plan, and Michael Scott, as President of the Chicago Board of Education, voted for it.

For today, we end with a report by Jesse Sharkey about the closing of Collins and the "Hood News" video. Extensive reports on the struggle to keep Senn High School from being militarized or privatized are available at the "old" Substance Web site (

Opponents of school closing catch politicians' secret meet

A backroom deal in Chicago?

By Jesse Sharkey | March 10, 2006 | Page 2

CHICAGO ACTIVISTS opposed to a school-closing plan broke in on a backroom meeting that they believe was aimed at sealing the deal. Top school officials were found at a popular West Side restaurant Edna's--across the table from U.S. Rep. Danny Davis and state Sen. Ricky Hendon, whose districts include Collins High School, one of the schools slated to close.

Last month, the Chicago Board of Education (CBOE) voted unanimously to close four Chicago schools as part of its citywide privatization plan, called Renaissance 2010. The closings, announced a month earlier, aroused an outpouring of anger at the four high schools--Frazier, Farren, Morse and Collins--and the surrounding communities, all poor Black neighborhoods.

Davis and Hendon were among the most militant-sounding critics of the closures plan. At a town-hall meeting against the Collins closing, Davis and Hendon both denounced the city's plan as racist, and emphasized their long connection to the North Lawndale neighborhood. "We're going to show them how we fight," Hendon told the cheering crowd.

Several days later, at the CBOE hearing, Hendon threatened to cut off funding if the Collins closure went through. "You're not going to see a penny," he told Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan.

But Hendon seems to have been sending a different message behind the scenes. Last month, neighborhood activists spotted Hendon, Davis, Duncan and CBOE President Michael Scott in a back room at Edna's. Scott is also a local real estate developer with substantial business interests in the gentrifying West Side neighborhood.

After being alerted about the gathering, reporters from a local public access show, Hood News, burst into the room, with video rolling. "Is this the sellout crew?" the reporter asked. "Is this a secret meeting about Collins High School?" Ricky Hendon told the reporters, "Kiss my ass!" while Davis went for his cell phone and called police.

None of the participants would tell reporters what was on the agenda for the secret meeting. It is illegal under the Illinois Open Meetings Act for multiple elected officials to meet about policy in secret.

But it soon became clear what deal had been made when the board announced that Collins High School would close as planned--but only for one year, according to the board.

Hendon and his supporters hailed this as a victory, but the board had only ever planned to leave Collins closed for a year. Under Renaissance 2010, the board's scheme is to reopen closed schools as new charter schools, with new students and nonunion teachers.

Far from a victory, Hendon's deal gave the board exactly what they wanted--while delivering nothing to the teachers, parents and students in the neighborhood he and Davis pledged to represent. 


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