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Inspector General's remarks to the December 2017 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education...

CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler on Chicago Tonight.As the week ended, it became clear that despite efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to end public discussion of the corruption of his appointed schools chief, Forrest Claypool, the public discussion will continue. Editorials in print and other media confirmed that the public is outraged by the way in which Claypool tried to cover up his own unethical conduct and his attempted use of cronies to help with that cover up. And in the context of current national debates over ethics, Emanuel's claim that Claypool's belated "apology" was sufficient to keep Claypool (and his many cronies) in their job is drawing ridicule from most citizens.

Readers who wish to delve more deeply into the hypocrisy of Emanuel and Claypool should visit the I.G.s pages on the Web. Every year, the annual report of the Inspector General results in the termination of dozens of teachers and other CPS workers, often for infractions that are much less serious than what has been proved against Claypool and his cronies. The most common infractions are residency violations, where teachers are caught living outside Chicago. Given the large (and growing) number of exceptions to the residency requirement, it may be time for CPS to eliminate it altogether.

A smaller but significant group of violations result in criminal charges, either state of federal, against CPS workers. These are tracked on a regular basis by the Inspector General. Every year there are several inspections that result in criminal charges, with violators going to prison for their crimes. In any organization with more than 40,000 workers, there are bound to be criminals and those who try to skirt or deliberately violate the law. The work of the I.G. often picks up when administrators either ignore or cover up crimes and infractions.

To claim, as Emanuel is now doing, that violators should be forgiven if they issue apologies is to not only make fun of the law, but also to expose the rank hypocrisy of those in charge. If a teacher can be fired for maintaining to addresses, how can it be that the second criminal CEO appointed by Emanuel can get away with defying law and ethics as Claypool has done. Readers should remember that Emanuel's first choice for CEO of CPS is now in prison. Yet the leaders in the Illinois General Assembly, during their most recent session, once again blocked legislation to have an elected school board for Chicago.

The remarks of Inspector General Nicholas Schuler from the December 6, 2017 Board meeting are here. Note that the material below is dated December 7 but was delivered during the public participation session of the December 6 meeting of the Board. A full copy of Schuler's report on Claypool's corruption and cover up will be provided to Substance readers when it becomes available to the public:

Public Comments by Inspector General Nicholas Schuler to the Chicago Board of Education

December 7, 2016

Good morning. I am inspector general Nicholas Schuler.

I have come here this morning to discuss a subject — that in my view — is a serious negative

development in the relationship between the Board and my office. I also propose — what I

believe is — a fair and workable solution.

The negative development that concerns me is that the attorney-client privilege has been

asserted on behalf of the Board in the OIG’s ongoing investigation of possible ethics violations

by General Counsel Ronald Marmer. That investigation centers on questions surrounding his

involvement in work performed for the Board by his former law firm. As you know, the OIG

initiated its investigation this summer after the questions at issue were raised in the press.

The assertion of the attorney-client privilege by the Board against the OIG is not only contrary

to the OIG’s express right under the Illinois School Code to have “access to all information and

personnel necessary to perform the duties of the office”, but it is also contrary to past Board

practice.

The Board’s assertion of the privilege is preventing my office from accessing relevant

documents and interviewing attorneys who likely have information pertinent to the

investigation. Unless the OIG is granted the access it needs, a critical undermining of the public

trust will result. Without access, the Board will be effectively saying that the OIG cannot fully

investigate possible violations of the Board’s own ethics policy by the General Counsel — and worse yet, that it can stop the OIG’s independent investigations by simply choosing to assert

the privilege.

As you know, I have been informed by the Board that the discussion of the full details of this

matter are eligible for a closed Board session. Because the investigation is ongoing and the

Board is — as of now — asserting the privilege, I believe that a closed session is appropriate. I

am, however, making these remarks in public because this is an area of significant public

concern, and I believe the public should know why this investigation has been stalled.

Before the closed session later today, please understand that I appreciate that this area of the

law can be nuanced — if not downright complicated. For instance, I imagine that you will have

legitimate questions about the legal implications of disclosures of privileged information to the

OIG. I further recognize that today’s session probably will not provide enough time for us to

fully arrive at a mutually agreed upon understanding of why the attorney-client privilege may

not properly be asserted by the Board against the OIG.

So, I propose tackling the problem in two phases — the first is long-term and the second is

immediate.

I am first asking the Board to establish a formal dialogue (possibly through an

appropriate committee or working group) between the Board and my office, the purpose of

which will be to discuss each other’s concerns and hash out any differences of opinion about

the Board’s attorney-client privilege and its exact contours in relationship to the OIG. Of course, a requisite part of any such dialogue must be the presence of OIG personnel on any such

committee or group. It is my sincere belief that through such dialogue the Board will

understand why, for reasons of law and sound public policy, the Board may not properly assert

the attorney-client privilege against the OIG when the OIG is acting within its lawful authority.

That process, however, won’t solve the immediate and pressing problem of the OIG’s stalled

ethics investigation.

Thus, in the interests of efficiency and transparency, the second thing I am

asking today is that the Board formally waive the attorney-client privilege as to certain

information that is necessary for the OIG to complete its investigation.

For the record, it is my position that the privilege is not applicable here, so a waiver is not

strictly required, but given the need to quickly complete the investigation — and eliminate a

possible perception that anyone is attempting to stall the OIG — a formal waiver will decisively

remove the impasse. Accordingly, I believe that a waiver best serves the combined interests of

the Board, the OIG, and the public.

If you have any questions before the closed session, I am happy to answer them.



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