For the second month in a row, the Chicago Board of Education voted to spend $1 million more on outside lawyers after strangling the 'public participation' of critics of the latest special education cuts at the September 29 Chicago Board of Education meeting...

After he purged the Board of Education's former General Counsel, James Bebley, the latest "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools Forrest Claypool (above left during the Board's September 29, 2015 meeting) tried to put into the position a crony who had no experience in education law. After the attempt was exposed by the Chicago Sun-Times, Claypool (at least temporarily) withdrew the Board Report from consideration and instead had veteran CPS lawyer Cheryl Colson (above right) made acting general counsel. The Board set Colson's annual salary at a rate lower than most of the school system's high school principals. Substance photo by David Vance. It wasn't on the public agenda distributed, as required by law, 48 hours before the September 29, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Nor was it discussed while Chicago's latest public education "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool stared blankly as his security police forced speaker after speaker away from the microphones for protesting the latest round of cuts in services to special education students.

Had the tight confines of the Chicago Board of Education's "chambers" been the setting for an Orwellian melodrama staged by one of Chicago's famous theater companies, the ironies would have been clear to the audience. But those would have been literary, and the police state tactics ordered by Claypool on September 29 were not fiction, nor were they theater.

And while CPS officials, over and over, prattle about how there is no money, the secret agenda about to be approved by a unanimous vote of the seven Board members contained another million dollars in expenses that nobody could have tried to justify -- more lawyer.

And so it might have been said those arrayed on the stage watching the peasants being dragged away: Millions for lawyers, but not a cent more for Chicago's "diverse learners."

And so when they emerged from their closed session during their September 29 meeting, the seven members of the Board voted without debate to approve spending another $1 million for outside lawyers. There was no "WTF" from anyone in the room, because the million dollars of spending took place so quickly that almost nobody except the Board members and a few bureaucrats knew what they meant.

And the September 2015 meeting was the second in a row at which the members of the Board voted to approve a million dollars or more for outside lawyers. At the August 2015 meeting, the Board approved two Board reports each calling for paying $500,000 to a law firm. The firms were Neal & Leroy, which had been receiving periodical payments from CPS, and a new firm, Jackson Lewis, which had been hired apparently as one of Forrest Claypool's reforms. Between the two firms, Neal & Leroy and Jackson Lewis, the Board had agreed to pay a million dollars it claimed it hadn't had. The following month it would add another million dollars to the outside law firms' take.

By September 2015, the Chicago Board of Education had paid more for outside lawyers than during any year previously. As usual, the payments to outside lawyers were not on the public agendas of the Board, and most of the public didn't notice because the costs only appeared on the "Action Agenda" that appeared following the meeting -- not before.

And -- None of the Board's seven members asked why the Board needed a huge "Law Department" inside its headquarters if it was going to vote, month after month, to pay some of the city's largest and most powerful law firms to do the work that many would charge should be done by the Board's own lawyers.

But like all the other privatization schemes promoted by corporate "school reform," the privatization of the legal work of the nation's third largest school system continued, unabated, after the last protesters was dragged out of the Board of Education's meeting on orders of Claypool and the Board's President, Frank Clark.

The Chicago Board of Education continues to have one of the largest law firms in the city -- in house. Years after year, the Board redefines the job titles of its lawyers, and sometimes classifies them into different departments so as to mask the actual amount of law in the Board's bureaucracy. Most of the lawyers working for Chicago Public Schools are paid in six figures, either at the time they are hired or within a few semesters after they begin work. Yet none of the Board members has ever questions why, with that much expensive legal talent in-house, CPS also needed to continue hiring private outside counsel as well.

The votes to further expand privatization of CPS legal work took place quickly, without discussion or debate. The following list lists those law firms that were hired by the Board's vote on September 29, 2015. Some of them regularly do work for CPS, while others are new hired.

One of the ironies of the September 29, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education was that the Board Reports (motions for the Board to vote on) expanding the privatization of the Board's legal work to outside law firms were all signed by James Bebley, even though everyone at CPS knew that Forrest Claypool had engineered the purge of Bebley the month before. Above, the Board Report adding a half million dollars to the millions already paid to the outside law firm of Franczek Radelet. The Board voted without discussion or debate to approve the above Board Report when the seven Board member emerged from closed session at the end of their September 29 meeting.Brothers and Thompson, $50,000

Franczek Radelet, $500,000

Laner Muchin, $50,000

Schiff, Harden, $150,000

Stettinius & Hollster, $250,000


October 4, 2015 at 2:52 AM

By: John Kugler

That's hubris, arrogance run wild!

all those cronies, crooks, huslters and liars who sit by watching the snakes steal and plunder, always snicker that they are safe as long as they stay quiet.

well there is no loyalty for anyone that stays quiet and allows crooks to be crooked, especially when the new crook runs into town!

HiHo - drK

October 5, 2015 at 1:25 PM

By: Mark Thompson

FIRE Cheryl Colston

I can't believe that Mr. Claypool was able to sit next to that piece of garbage of an attorney named Cheryl Colston and not have to excuse himself several times to barf from the staunch from the numerous years of her lying and sleeping in sh*t. Colston was a willing participant with Bebley in schemes, frauds, or unethical behavior targeting innocent teachers that will soon come to light and expose her for the piece of sh*t that she really is. Hopefully a new General Counsel will come in and clean house and eradicate this stupid UNEDUCATED fool from the corrupt law department that concocts evil schemes to suit the needs of the wicked and depraved minds who dwell within it.

October 5, 2015 at 7:23 PM

By: Joyce Hutchens

Jackson Lewis

I'm surprised no one has mentioned that since he left the Board in 2012, former Board General Counsel Patrick Rocks has been a partner at Jackson Lewis, the "new" law firm the Board is paying big bucks.

October 6, 2015 at 11:38 AM

By: Allison

Jackson Lewis

Is it true that brother of Xavier Botana(he left for Portland,Oregon get sued and after one year landed at Michigan City) is a partner at Jackson Lewis as well?

Is it true that they collaborated to privatize Michigan City ,IN janitorial services (see:Sodexo).

Kugler, show us your investigative reporting skills.

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