CPS schedules last minute 'hearings' on proposed school closings... Community based hearings are supposed to happen, too

In a last-minute press release issued on the morning of April 4, 2011, Chicago Public Schools Office of Communications has scheduled additional hearings in communities for some of the schools that will be up for closing at the Board of Education's April 27 meeting. There is no mention as to whether Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany, Chief Education Officer Charles Payne, or any of the seven members of the Board of Education will attend any of those meetings. In previous years, CPS held the hearings but the CEOs never attended, and no more than two members of the school board ever attended any one hearing. In what many characterized as an act of cynical and cruel duplicity, CPS order groups of its mid-level management people to sit in seats usually occupied by top level bureaucrats, and many passionate parents, children, and teachers made their appeals to the silent witnesses, who they thought were the "Board."

Although the Board of Education's public relations materials claim that the actions proposed are "consolidations", they are in fact closings. Working on data that has been shown to be inaccurate for the past eight years, Chicago Board of Education members repeat the mantra every year that the Board has to save money by closing the buildings because they are supposedly underutilized. But no one from the affected schools is allowed to cross examine the Board witnesses to verify the testimony the Board's attorneys and staff offer, and in almost every case since 2003, the facts have contradicted the Board's staff's version.

Most school closings in Chicago since Arne Duncan began them in 2002 with his first "renaissance" have been to vacate the buildings so that privatization could take place. More than three-quarters of the buildings that have been closed by CPS since June 2004 (when the Board went after Calumet and Austin high schools) have eventually been given away to charter schools and other types of privatization, usually after massive and expensive renovations to the buildings take place once the buildings are cleared of true public school students. This years school closing lists continue the pattern, with Urban Prep and Talent Development just two of the charter high schools scheduled to get the buildings the Board is clearing out.

An additional insult to parents, students and teachers in the past has been that the Chief Executive Officer has refused to provide the members of the Board and the public with complete transcripts and copies of all materials that are turned in to the hearing officer at each of the hearings. In some cases, as in Edison Gifted three years ago, the parents, community, students, and supporters of the school turned in more than 800 pages of materials. The members of the Board of Education voted to move Edison without reading any of that material, because it was never provided to them. Nor were the transcripts of the carefully prepared statements of the so-called "stakeholders" (see the CPS press release below). Like the materials, the transcripts are simply ignored by the Board at the time it votes to close the schools. Since Board members and the system's two top executives generally ignore the hearings, the only record that is before the Board when it votes is the so-called "summary" written up by the supposedly "independent" hearing officer. Three years ago, Substance exposed the fact that two of the supposedly "independent" hearing officers were actually partners in the outside law firm that gets more than $1 million in business from CPS annually. The names of the hearing officers are not released to the public prior to the hearings.

The following is the content of the hasty press release issued early on April 4 by CPS. Note that all of the hearings will take place between April 4 and April 11.

For more information contact:, Monique Bond

CPS Office of Communications, Phone: 773-553-1620, Fax: 773-553-1622, Website:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:, April 4, 2011, Chicago Public Schools Sets Public Hearing Schedule On School Consolidation Proposals

Chicago Public Schools will hold a series of public hearings beginning this week on proposed school consolidations.

The planned two-hour sessions will provide an opportunity for independent hearing officers to receive testimony from CPS officials supporting the consolidation proposals and from interested members of the public who want to comment on the proposals.

Sign-up for persons wishing to speak at the public hearing begins an hour prior to the start of each hearing. Speakers are asked to limit their oral comments to two minutes to maximize the number of people who want to provide verbal testimony. Written testimony will also be accepted at the hearings.

Following the hearings, the hearing officers will provide a summary of testimony and their findings to the office of Interim CPS Chief Executive Officer Terry Mazany.

The hearing officer reports will help inform final consolidation proposals the Interim CEO is expected to make to the Board at its April 27 meeting. No final action can be taken on any of the proposals until that meeting.

The public hearings will take place in the Chicago Board of Education chambers, 125 S. Clark, 5th Floor.

A series of community meetings with affected school communities has been ongoing and will continue this week, officials added.

The hearing schedule, and the consolidation proposals, follows:

-- Wednesday, April 6, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St., Consolidate all small schools at Bowen Campus, 2710 E. 89th St., into New Millennium High School. Bowen was split into four small schools - New Millennium, BEST, Chicago Discovery and Global Visions - in 2002.

-- Thursday April 7, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Consolidate Hans Christian Andersen, 1148 N. Honore St., into LaSalle II, 1148 N. Honore St. (the two schools already share one building).

-- Thursday April 7, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Reassign kindergarten boundary of George W. Tilton, 223 N. Keeler Ave., to Guglielmo Marconi, 230 N. Kolmar Ave., and Laura S Ward, 410 N. Monticello Ave.

-- Friday, April 8, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Consolidate Philo Carpenter, 1250 W. Erie St., into Mancel Talcott, 1840 W. Ohio St.

-- Friday April 8, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Consolidate George Schneider, 2957 N. Hoyne Ave. into Friedrich Ludwig Jahn, 3149 N. Wolcott.

-- Monday, April 11, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Consolidate Jacob Beidler, 3151 W. Walnut St., into Willa Cather, 2908 W. Washington Blvd.

-- Monday, April 11, 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at CPS, 125 S. Clark St. Consolidate Avondale, 2945 N Sawyer Ave., into Logandale, 3212 W. George St.

Community meetings between CPS representatives and parents, guardians and other stakeholders began last week and will continue this week.

Community meetings already have taken place at Tilton, Marconi and Beidler schools.

Today, meetings are scheduled at Cather (at 9:30 a.m.), and Tilton (6:30 p.m.).

Tomorrow, meetings will take place at Andersen (9:30 a.m.), with a second meeting scheduled for Marconi (6 p.m.).

On Wednesday, a meeting is scheduled at Carpenter (9:30 a.m.) and on Friday a meeting is planned at Avondale (9 a.m.).

Pending are meetings at Schneider and Bowen.

The meetings provide an opportunity for school communities to interact with CPS representatives. The community outreach should help further clarify the reasoning behind the proposals and allow additional feedback from those affected by these proposed actions.

Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 410,000 students in more than 670 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.


April 4, 2011 at 6:36 PM

By: The Retired Principal (RP)

Consolidations Are A Done Deal!

The consolidations of the CPS schools are a done deal! The independent hearing officers (hired guns for CPS) will consolidate ALL of these schools! Welcome to the wonderful world of CPS!

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