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'Fire Claypool immediately!' is the call of many -- including the school system's Inspector General -- at the December 2017 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education... Despite Claypool's lies and ethics violations, Emanuel sticks by the man he made 'Chief Executive Officer' of CPS in 2015...

Is Forrest Claypool (above left) learning the Richard Nixon and Michael Flynn lesson --that it's the cover up that gets you? By December 2017, Claypool, once the darling of so-called "progressives" in Chicago, was lambasted for his cover ups regarding Robert Marmer (right), who was chosen by Claypool to be General Counsel of Chicago's public schools despite an obvious conflict of interest. Claypool violated the Board's own ethics policies (policies that have resulted in the termination of lesser people at CPS for years) by shopping for an attorney to rule that Marmer's continued work for his former law firm (Jenner and Block) was not a violation. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. While the mayor of Chicago and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education (all appointed by that mayor, Rahm Emanuel) stubbornly stick by their choice for "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools, a growing chorus of citizens is demanding that Claypool be fired. During a heated meeting of the Chicago Board of Education on December 6, 2017, it became clear that Claypool may be the mayor's boy, but he is not popular or viewed as ethical by the majority of citizens.

In addition to public criticism is the Board's Hit List of schools to close, a tussle with the Inspector General has brought Claypool's hypocrisy on ethics to the forefront. According to Inspector General Nocholas Schuler, Claypool should be fired to having lied to the I.G.'s office during a probe into conflicts of interest involving Claypool's choice for General Counsel, Robert Marmer.

A large number of news reports in both print and other media (see below for some) on December 7 note that the I.G. is calling on Claypool to be fired, but that Mayor Emanuel, who appointed Claypool (under the mayor's powers since 1995 according to the Amendatory Act), says that because Claypool had "apologized" for his lies he should keep his job.

Left out of virtually all of the news reports on the latest flap is the fact that every year -- including every year since Claypool took over CPS in 2015 -- the Board of Education has routinely fired school workers who have run afoul of I.G. investigators. None of those was given the opportunity by the mayor or the Board of Education to "apologize." Instead, the very fact that they were found to have violated CPS ethics rules was the grounds for termination.

The outpouring of opposition to Claypool's continuation in the top job at the nation's third largest school system far outweighs the power behind Claypool. Only Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Board of Education President Frank Clark so far has said that Claypool should remain in the post.

In a December 6 press release, the Chicago Teachers Union (first reprint here) stated it very clearly and succinctly, while the detailed front page story in the Chicago Tribune (second reprint here) offered many more details...

Emanuel must stop defending the indefensible and fire Claypool, say teachers... Emanuel's hand-picked school boss has forged public documents and run an apartheid-like school system, say teachers, who demand his removal.

CHICAGO, December 6, 2017—The Chicago Teachers Union issued the following statement today in the wake of news that the CPS Inspector General is calling for the firing of CPS CEO Forrest Claypool for ethics violations. These remarks can be attributed to CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

The public can attribute a long list of wrongdoings to Rahm Emanuel, from running an apartheid-like public education system to handing off public dollars to privileged campaign donors. He should not add his refusal to fire Forrest Claypool to that long list of civic outrages. Claypool has been caught red-handed forging public documents and violating school ethics policy – on top of his endlessly racist, classist school policies. If a teacher or school staff member committed these crimes, they’d be fired and possibly criminally prosecuted. Rahm Emanuel should hold Claypool to the same standard. If Emanuel refuses to do so, he is admitting the obvious: that he has no regard for ethics, decency or the well-being of our city – an outrage that transcends even Claypool’s misdeeds. And if Emanuel continues to defend his political crony, they both need to go – immediately.

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The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at www.ctunet.com.

TRIBUNE STORY DECEMBER 7, 2017, Front page...

CPS watchdog says Claypool should be fired, but Emanuel sticks by his schools chief, By Juan Perez Jr. and Bill Ruthhart, Chicago Tribune

The inspector general for Chicago Public Schools has recommended that district CEO Forrest Claypool be fired for his handling of an ethics investigation involving the district’s top attorney, according to sources, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday said he is sticking by his embattled schools chief.

Emanuel said in a statement that Claypool “made a mistake” but asked that there be no rush to judgment.

“These are serious allegations, and I know the board is reviewing them with the scrutiny they merit — but Forrest himself has already acknowledged the lapse in judgment, and apologized for it,” Emanuel said. “And I think we should all take a deep breath before making snap judgments about a man with a sterling reputation and a sterling record of public service.”

Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s recommendation that a key Emanuel ally be removed follows a lengthy ethics investigation that spiraled into an open conflict between the district watchdog and Claypool’s office. Schuler’s report on his investigation was delivered to the school board on Tuesday, almost one year after the IG publicly accused the district of attempting to stall the probe.

The investigation concluded that Ronald Marmer, the district’s general counsel, violated CPS ethics codes by receiving annual severance payments for his past work at Jenner & Block while also supervising the prominent firm’s work on this year’s failed CPS effort to sue the state of Illinois over education funding.

Last month, in a letter to Schuler’s office, Claypool apologized for intervening to reword an invoice for an outside legal opinion the CEO requested to weigh Marmer’s compliance with district ethics policies. Claypool wrote that he initially told Schuler, during a formal interview, that he “did not recall” asking for such changes. Claypool’s letter then acknowledged Schuler had unspecified documents that contradicted the CEO’s initial claim.

The mayoral-appointed school board discussed Schuler’s report, which was not made public, in a closed executive session on Wednesday. Afterward, board President Frank Clark defended Claypool’s tenure.

“Forrest has done excellent work fighting for the equal funding of Chicago students, including filing an important civil rights lawsuit on their behalf,” Clark said. "We take seriously our responsibility to thoughtfully and thoroughly evaluate this report, and we will do so.”

Claypool holds a different standing with Emanuel from the mayor’s other top confidants and agency heads at City Hall. The two have been friends for 37 years, dating to when they met as young staffers on an unsuccessful 1980 congressional campaign. Emanuel was just 20 at the time, still an undergraduate at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. Claypool was in between his second and third years of law school.

Claypool has a long history of being called in to clean up troubled city agencies. He twice was chief of staff under former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and between those stints he served as the superintendent of the Chicago Park District, where he was lauded for cutting costs and streamlining bureaucracy.

After leaving the Daley administration, Claypool was elected a Cook County commissioner and later lost bids for County Board president and county assessor. Claypool was Emanuel’s first CTA president, then briefly served as the mayor’s chief of staff before being tapped to run CPS in July 2015 in the midst of a federal investigation that led to the indictment and conviction of former district CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

While Emanuel has long-standing ties to his schools chief, the ethics cloud surrounding Claypool —including his penchant for hiring old friends and accusations that he took steps to cover his tracks in doing so — runs counter to the mayor’s frequent refrain that end of clout at City Hall coincided with his arrival in the mayor’s office.

Marmer is one of several of Claypool's former colleagues and past political donors who have won district jobs and consulting contracts.

The attorney also has received annual payments of roughly $200,000 as severance for his past career as a Jenner & Block partner — according to the IG and economic disclosure forms — in addition to his CPS salary.

CPS ethics policies prohibit employees from having an "economic interest" in district contracts and also bars employees from managing contracts with entities in which they have an economic interest.

Employees are also barred from hiring vendors or entities with whom they have a “business relationship” — meaning they receive “compensation or payment” that entitles them to $2,500 or more in a calendar year.

CPS awarded Jenner & Block with a $250,000 contract last year to prepare for, and pursue, what was ultimately an aborted civil rights lawsuit meant to challenge Illinois’ education funding model.

Four in-house CPS attorneys concluded that Marmer violated the district’s ethics policy by supervising Jenner & Block’s work while he had an ongoing business relationship with the firm, Schuler said this summer in a preliminary internal report.

Claypool then tapped two additional lawyers — veteran district labor attorney James Franczek and a former CPS general counsel — for additional opinions. Those attorneys also agreed Marmer violated the ethics code. Claypool ultimately turned to a seventh attorney and political supporter, J. Timothy Eaton, who concluded Marmer’s conduct didn’t violate the ethics code, according to the preliminary report.

Claypool last month admitted he requested changes to an invoice Franczek submitted for his services, which included the terms “ethics” and “Marmer.”

Instead, a CPS spokeswoman has said, Franzcek’s invoice was edited to say his work concerned a personnel matter.

During a boisterous school board meeting that included protests and heated testimony over proposed school closings and consolidations, Ken Bennett, a prominent civic figure who has served in Emanuel’s administration, urged board members to intensify their oversight over Claypool. Bennett’s remarks came as his son, hip-hop performer Chance the Rapper, continued a CPS-centered publicity and fundraising campaign at a South Shore school.

“Forrest Claypool is a brilliant man. But the Forrest Claypool that I see that’s running CPS right now, is not the Forrest Claypool that I’ve known over the years. And I’m deeply, deeply disturbed,” Bennett told board members.



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