Hearing officer praises himself for his generosity. He says he won't charge the Board his usual hourly fee of $425 (February 2, 2009).

Attorney Fred Bates, one of four "independent hearings officers" who have so far heard testimony on the proposals to close, phase out, consolidate, or turnaround Chicago schools this year. Bates told the public during the Schiller Elementary School hearing on February 2, 2009, that he is not charging the Chicago Board of Education his full hourly fee for his work as an "independent hearing officer" this year. Bates has been hired by the Chicago Board of Education to conduct these hearings since 1997, when he presided over the hearing on the "Reconstitution" of Englewood HIgh School. He stated that his hourly fee is $425 and that for these hearings he is being paid "much less." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.At least one of the hearing officers presiding over the current round of Chicago Public Schools hearings on school closings, consolidations, phase outs, and turnarounds is getting short tempered with the public. At the February 2 hearing on the proposal to close Schiller Elementary School and send its students to Jenner Elementary School, hearing officer Fred Bates took the time to demand that children testifying on behalf of their school not be named in the record. As a result, the 18 students who spoke out against the closing of Schiller are named (sequentially) "Student A," "Student B", etc. This policy, established on the spot when it became clear that Schiller (like the Carpenter School earlier) was going to have its own students defend the school. School teachers and other officials had gotten written permission from the parents of every student who was scheduled to speak stating that the children could be on the record. Nevertheless, Bates ordered that those students not be identified, and began the process of listing "Student A," "Student B", etc. in a way that took a great deal of time out of the hearing itself. At one point, Bates also tried to prevent this reporter from photographing children who were testifying, again ignoring the express permission of the parents allowing those children to speak on the record.

Bates lost his temper near the end of the Schiller hearing when Jackson Potter of CORE took the podium to point out to the more than 90 teachers, parents, community leaders and children that the hearings were a sham. Potter noted, as CORE has done at every hearing, that no member of the Board of Education was present in the room during the eloquent and often moving testimony. Potter went on to suggest that the minimum number of dollars to be "saved" by CPS from the closing of a school like Schiller could easily be saved in another way by stopping the hearings and eliminating the costs of the hearing officers and the CPS bureaucrats who sit around the room during each of the hearings.

Bates interrupted, noting -- for the record -- that his usual fee as an attorney is $425 per hour, but that he was charging CPS "much less" to do these hearings. Bates did not say how much less he is getting paid to do the hearings. 



February 4, 2009 at 2:28 PM

By: Daniel

Hearing officer restricts testimony, objects to discussion of his fees, refuses to allow children on

What is Fred Bates sitting in front of in that picture?

February 5, 2009 at 8:25 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Hearing officer restricts testimony, objects to discussion of his fees, refuses to allow children on

The photograph was taken on Saturday, January 31. Frederick Bates was conducting the community hearing against Las Casas Occupational (Therapeutic) High School at the Ninos Heroes Elementary School, 8344 S. Commercial Ave. in Chicago. CPS officials set up a stage in the school's lunchroom in front of a mural depicting African and African-American history. Bates sat himself in front of the mural and I photographed him at that time.

February 12, 2009 at 3:27 AM


Hearing Officer's Response

This is an example of irresponsible and misleading reporting--I will not call thia journalism! I clearly said that I am charging CPS about "half my normal hourly rate." I have been hearing cases for almost 20 years--since the school reform act was passed-- and have raised my rate from $150 per hour to about an average of less than $200 an hour for the BOE over almost 20 years, although my actual hourly rate has risen from $200 to $450 actually in this 20 year period. Why Schmidt continues to target me after I virtually cleared him of wrongdoing in 1999, is beyond me. Frankly, I don't care! I will continue to "call them as I see them!" I have posted this response only so that my children see that they should stand up to bullies! Ps. My name is not "Frederick!"

February 12, 2009 at 4:31 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Editor, Substance

"Why Schmidt continues to target me after I virtually cleared him of wrongdoing in 1999, is beyond me. Frankly, I don't care!..." (Bates, earlier).

1. Sorry about the 'Frederick' Fred.

2. Now about that 'clearing him (Schmidt) of wrongdoing...'

I asked you, when you told me that fact (ten years after the fact) to provide me with a copy of the document. The last time we had talked was when you were still out at Bowen investigating my record there (as a teacher and apparently as school security coordinator).

It's rather important, since I was fired from my job for that 'wrongdoing' and CPS never produced your report, despite out requests for it during discovery during the time of our lawsuit and counter claims. Very important.

You see, I was whistle blowing back then, and got fired from a teaching job for my troubles. CPS commissioned two official reports. One of them we got from UCLA CREST center, saying that the CASE tests were nonsense by any reasonable professional standard.

The other -- which we're waiting for -- was yours, for which you were sent out to Bowen High School to confirm that I was a racist who abused power against gang members. Were it true that you found the opposite was the case, that's a very very important material fact.

The rest. Let's see what happens in the coming weeks. These hearings, as you know, have been quite interesting. And given the fact that CPS is proposing to 'turnaround' Holmes school using a 'turnaround' outfit what has produced results no better than Holmes (at Sherman), the facts are getting conflicted.

February 14, 2009 at 9:12 AM

By: xian

Aid in students standing up to bullies

Thanks for your input Mr. Bates. We appreciate your time during the hearings, but I will remind you that CORE, community and other union members along with the students who were allowed to testify did a lot more during the hearings than you did to protect the welfare of CPS students, and we did it for free.

However, that all changes if you actually render a fair, honest decision. The truth is in the testimony that you are being paid to review--students will suffer if Las Casas and the other 21 schools are closed, turnedaround or phased out. So earn your pay and render a public and just decision.

Otherwise, the reason why you are making nearly $200 more per hour than we are is because you are being paid to do the Board's atrocities.

So please--for your our soul and conscience's sake--really "call 'em like you see 'em". You will go from a "I was just following orders" corporate bully into a legendary civic hero who really did "stand up to bullies".

February 18, 2009 at 10:02 PM

By: Jennifer Johnson

Hear Hear Xian!

Kudos Xian. I couldn't agree more!

Furthermore, Mr. Bates failed to recognize that reducing his hourly rate by "half" to a figure still in the hundreds of dollars is insulting to the students whose educations are being sacrificed in the name of saving CPS money.

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