Chief Education Officer tells parents that the 'LaQuan Video' will not be shown in Chicago's schools...

Janice Jackson, "Chief Education Officer" of Chicago's public schools, announced in a November 25 memo to parents that the "LaQuan video" would not be shown in the classrooms of Chicago's more than 600 public schools. Above, Jackson is shown presenting during the November 18, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Substance photo by David Vance.In a November 24, 2015 email to CPS parents, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, without consulting teachers or the Chicago Teachers Union, announced that the "LaQuan video" will not be shown in Chicago's public schools. The memo was directed towards the showing of a video that had already been seen by millions and which was the top news story on most of the nation's TV news shows the night before.

The "Laquan video" depicts the fatal shooting of a 17-year-old by a Chicago police officer in October 2014, during the heated mayoral campaign that resulted in Mayor Rahm Emanuel being forced into a runoff by Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia. Although news reports now show that Emanuel's administration knew the controversial details of the death of the teenager and ruled that the video not be released to the public. Emanuel was forced into a runoff by Garcia in February and finally won re-election in the April 2015 runoff.

Janice Jackson was appointed "Chief Education Officer" of the nation's third largest school system in July 2015. Her appointment came at the same time as the appointment of Forrest Claypool as "Chief Executive Officer" by Emanuel. At the same, Emanuel had appointed five of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education. Claypool replaced former CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett, who at the time was on unpaid leave during an investigation of alleged corruption. In October, Byrd Bennett pled guilty on 27 counts in a federal corruption investigation. All of those most involved in the investigation and cover-up of the death of Laquan McDonald were directly working for Rahm Emanuel.

Janice Jackson had been principal of Westinghouse High School before being appointed to the second most powerful position in the CPS administration by Rahm Emanuel or Emanuel's appointed Board of Education.


Dear CPS Parent or Guardian,

As you may be aware, video footage surrounding the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald will soon be released to the public. This footage is sure to raise many emotions among our children, and we want you to know that CPS will do everything possible to meet their needs.

First, please know that this video will not be shown in our schools. Even so, we know that many students will likely be discussing it and may be upset by its violent content. To make sure that children have a safe outlet for their questions and emotions, we have created a special toolkit that will help teachers talk to students about this incident in a sensitive and constructive way. The toolkit suggests the students continue the conversation at home, sharing what theyve learned with their parents and having an open dialogue.

In addition to the steps we are taking in the classroom, our school counselors are always available to speak with students who may need additional support. When you are talking with your children about this situation, please encourage them to reach out to their counselors for help at any time.

We appreciate you partnering with us as we work to help our students process this difficult turn of events. If you have any questions about how this situation will be handled in your childs school, please contact your principal directly.


Janice K. Jackson, EdD.

Chief Education Officer


November 25, 2015 at 1:23 PM

By: Rod Estvan

More to the Laquan McDonald story

There is much more to the tragic story of Laquan McDonald in relationship to the Chicago Public Schools than just Janice Jacksons email to families discussed in the Substance article.

Laquan was at the time of his death a student in the Sullivan House campus of the Youth Connection Charter Schools (YCCS) which is funded by CPS. According to a statement by the principal of Sullivan House made to the Chicago Sun Times Laquan came in with one of our programs that deals with wards of the state. The Alternative Schools Networks has around 250 seats set aside for DCFS youth. A DCFS caseworker completes the referral for the DCFS programs; but foster parents, counselors and others can also place students in YCCS. DCFS pays students to go to YCCS. As students work their way toward diplomas, they are paid money to continue their education. For each computer-assisted course a young person completes in an after-school program, they receive $250, of which $200 goes into a scholarship account. Students earn $2 per hour for the time they spend in the after-school programs, which also is deposited into their account. After the student graduates and enrolls in college or some type of vocational training, they can withdraw the funds accumulated in their scholarship account, plus an additional $600 award.

But the question looms was Laquan in fact a mentally ill student who should have never been placed in an alternative school setting, but rather in a therapeutic day school with direct psychiatric services or possibly even a residential setting. Both CPS and DCFS apparently approved this placement into Sullivan House which currently has over 20% of its students with identified disabilities but is not a State approved school for the education of students with severe emotional disabilities require unique intensive services.

Mary Mitchell in a Sun Times article published in the November 21 edition of the Chicago Sun Times raises the very clear possibility that Laquan had significant mental health problems in part no doubt due to the fact he had been molested repeatedly while before and as a ward of the state as a young child.

Moreover, at the time Laquan was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer in October 2014 he had been removed for at least the third time from his mothers custody and placed in DCFS custody with another relative that was also a problematic placement according the Mary Mitchells article.

But here is the amazing thing really in all of this. When the City of Chicago paid Laquans mother $5 million for his death as a settlement, it was paying the money to a parent who had repeatedly placed her child in danger and in a situation where he may have been molested in her home by boyfriends.

Instead of sending out emails to families trying to prevent a blow up in the community over this shooting CPS should be conducting a complete investigation of its own possible failures in relation to Laquan McDonald. For example what CPS high school did Laquan attend prior to his dropping out and did that school ever come near providing adequate special education services for such an emotionally disturbed young man? What level of psychological services did Sullivan House provide to Laquan and were they anywhere near what he may have needed?

But Chicagos media will likely not seek answers to these questions, because Laquan was effectively one of hundreds of throw away students in CPS. He came to public notice only because he was so brutally shot down by a Chicago Police officer and it was captured on video.

Rod Estvan

Education Policy Analyst for

Access Living of Chicago

November 25, 2015 at 1:50 PM

By: Kim Scipes

Thanks to Rod Estvan


Thanks for your detailed information about this situation.

I've watched the video--Laquan was in NO WAY threatening any of the police; in fact, he was moving away from them. First, we need that cop tried for first degree murder. Second, we need to charge Anita Alvarez with covering up a crime: to take over one YEAR to indicate after a video such of this is incompetence of the highest degree or CONSCIOUS coverup. We need to get rid of Police Chief Garry McCarthy--either he cannot control his cops, or he is actively acquiescing to their killings and brutality. And, of course, we need to remember that Mayor 1%, Rahm Emanuel is personally responsible for the on-going brutalization of African Americans and Latinos in Chicago.

November 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM

By: Susan Hickey

Agree with Rod Estvan

I am in total agreement with Rod about this as a former school social worker for CPS and saw how the students were not placed right. Placements are dictated by financial reasons but coached in language such as Markay Winston would say- least restrictive environment. We all know that meant to shut down the best suited instructional programs for some of our most challenged students. I know that social workers are forced to do more paperwork and less therapeutic services. Last year we had a Social Work Coordinator that would chastise social workers that said they were giving therapy to students. Clinicians know we are only 'cash cows' for the Board as they get millions from our Medicaid billing of services. We are constantly being told to group students (for more money) when many of them need one on one services given the sensitivity of their issues and needs. With mental health clinics closed down on the west and south sides of Chicago due to Rauner's and Rahm's budget cuts, schools have been increasingly used to be the mental health worker for students. I know I was for a number of students and managed to keep some from stricter placements but I also realized there were a number that needed more than I can offer. I had a number of sex abuse disclosures and I was lucky to have excellent training in how to handle them. I got my training in Britain which included training with the local police department.

We need to stop these cuts to mental health services both in the community and in schools.

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