CORRECTION: Contrary to rumors, Colonel Rick Mills may not be leaving Chicago Public Schools after more than a decade in various administrative positions, CPS officials tell Substance

Then Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and then Chicago "Military Area Officer" Rick Mills (right) waited outside at the dedication of the Marine Military Academy at the old Ulysses Grant Elementary School on Chicago's West Side on October 15, 2007. During his time in Chicago, Mills helped organize the expansion of the city's military high schools from one to seven, making Chicago the most militarized public school system in the USA. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Contrary to rumors which began circulating on Friday, June 10, retired U.S. Army Colonel Rick Mills may not be leaving the Chicago Public Schools this summer, after a career than spanned more than a decade in various administrative positions in Chicago's public schools. An earlier story posted by Substance on line, based on three off-the-record sources, has been corrected at this time (11:30 a.m. on June 14, 2011). The earlier story was up for approximately three hours.

"Rick Mills has not submitted a resignation from CPS," CPS spokesman Frank Shuftan told Substance on June 14, after a telephone inquiry. Shuftan is a CPS spokesman who works in the school system's Office of Communications.

An Area 26 administrative assistant told Substance reporter Sharon Schmidt that Mills was "unavailable" and questions should be directed to the Office of Communications. Schmidt left a message for Mills asking for his status, suggesting that it would be simpler if Mills answered the question.

Mills, who was hired by former Chicago schools Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas to become chief of the city's expanding military high schools, served at various times as head of ROTC and military schools, chief officer for what was briefly the "Area" for the military high schools (and ROTC), and finally as a "Chief Area Officer" for most of the city's north side high schools.

While there was initial criticism of the Mills hiring (Mills had no K-12 teaching experience, came straight out of the Army, and did not at the time he was hired have any Illinois administrative credentials), as the Chicago Board of Education hired more and more outsiders (during the terms of Arne Duncan, 2001 - 2008, and Ron Huberman, 2008 - 2009), public criticism of the hiring of unqualified administrators was muted, at least in Chicago's corporate media.

During his most recent assignment in Chicago, Mills was overseer for 26 CPS high schools (and high school units, such as the "Achievement Academies"). In addition to all of the city's military high schools, Mills has been in charge of a large number of general high schools across the city. According to CPS officials, during his time as "Chief Area Officer" for Area 26, he has been in charge of the following high schools: AIR FORCE HS; CARVER MILITARY; CHGO MILITARY ACAD HS; CLEMENTE AA HS; CLEMENTE HS; DOUGLASS HS; FARRAGUT HS; FOREMAN HS; HUBBARD HS; INFINITY HS; KELLY HS; KELVYN PARK HS; MARINE MILITARY HS; MULTICULTURAL ARTS HS; PHOENIX MILITARY HS; PROSSER HS; RICKOVER HS; ROOSEVELT HS; SENN AA HS; SENN HS; STEINMETZ HS; TAFT HS; UPLIFT HS; VOISE HS; WILLIAMS, D; WORLD LANGUAGE HS.

Two of his most recent acts in office produced controversy. In March, he ordered several junior staff from the high schools under his command to attend a retreat in Ohio.

While Mayor Daley (far left) and others (including Rick Mills) cheered him, Congressman Rahm Emanuel (at podium) told the audience during the dedication of the Marine Military Academy on October 15, 2007 that he had secured a Congressional "earmark" of more than $1 million for the project. Arne Duncan (who then was "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools) was studying his notes while Emanuel spoke. Behind Duncan (between Duncan and Emanuel above) was retired U.S. Army Colonel Rick Mills, who was overseer of the expansion of the military and JROTC programs in Chicago's public schools during the first decade of the 21st Century. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. In June, he ordered principals of those general high schools in his area to administer the ACT test to 10th graders (the test is usually only given to Chicago 11th graders, as part of the Prairie State Achievement examination (PSAE). The alleged junket for staff development, reported exclusively in Substance, came at a time when CPS was supposedly facing a $720 million "deficit."

During the four days when the rumors of Mill's departure spread throughout the high schools he had briefly supervised, it was difficult to check each one. Substance briefly reported that Mills was leaving based on three off-the-record sources.

But some of the problems were apparent early. One rumor was that Mills would be taking the post of chief of the Minnespolis public schools in Minnesota. "We have a superintendent who is in the first year of a three year contract," a spokesman for the Minneapolis school system told Substance. "We have heard nothing about that."


June 16, 2011 at 1:07 PM

By: August Spie

Rick Mills

Another note, Rick Mills was behind the manipulation of the appointment of the new principal at Foreman High School. The least qualified candidate was offered a contract. A candidate who has divided the staff by weaseling into the building. Mills' departure is a blessing and his cronies can go with him.

Look into Foreman High School Principal selection process, corruption at its finest!

August 28, 2011 at 1:20 AM

By: SikaFortuna

Rick Mills

The best news ever. After getting 26 schools to manage he finally got the message of how well respected (not) and needed he was by folks at Central Office. Let's say a prayer for the new educators and administrators that he will prey on now. Of course he would appoint the least qualified. Don't just look at the Foreman principal but do some research on principals he assisted in earning degrees so he could manipulate them like puppets when he put them in his "militarized schools." Also take a good look at the leadership, discipline and 'order' at the military academies over the last seven years. The YouTube videos uploaded by the cadets tell the true story. His time at CPS is definitely book worthy and keep an eye on the lawsuits that have been filed as a result of his staff and teacher firings.

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