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*** UPDATED x1 - Claypool responds *** CPS Inspector General wants Claypool fired

Thursday, Dec 7, 2017

* Sun-Times

The Chicago Public Schools’ inspector general is urging the Chicago Board of Education to fire schools chief Forrest Claypool, a longtime friend of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, for lying during an ethics investigation, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday.

Inspector General Nicholas Schuler recommended Claypool’s firing in a lengthy, still-secret memo he gave to Board of Ed members late Tuesday, the sources said.

In the memo, Schuler reported his findings from a 16-month ethics investigation of CPS’ top attorney that he found Claypool tried to block, according to the sources.

“Forrest made a mistake,” Emanuel said in a written statement Wednesday night. “There’s no question about that, and I take that very seriously. But he was also big enough to stand up, admit his mistake and publicly apologize for it. That says a lot about who Forrest is, and that’s the Forrest I know.

“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. 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.”

* Press release…

After a 16-month CPS Inspector General’s investigation and news reports of disturbing ethics infractions, Attorney General candidate Jesse Ruiz is calling on Forrest Claypool, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Public Schools, to resign immediately.

“I am calling on Forrest to do the right thing and resign from his post as CEO of Chicago’s Public Schools,” said Ruiz, who served for more than four years as Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education and also served as Interim CEO of Chicago Public Schools. “Repeatedly misleading the Inspector General is unacceptable, especially at a time when trust in our government is at an all-time low. The people of Chicago expect our leaders to always set an example of integrity and not violate the public trust. Forrest has failed this test.

“From day one, I blew the whistle on the conflicts of interest that led to this investigation,” Ruiz added. “At every point, Mr. Claypool has stonewalled the Inspector General’s investigation, and his actions must have consequences. He should resign immediately.”

The CPS investigation has centered on whether Claypool acted improperly in urging the Board of Education to retain a law firm, even though the CPS general counsel’s ongoing financial relationship with the firm violated the school system’s conflict of interest policy.

When CPS ethics officers attempted to intervene, Claypool overruled them. Since then, the CPS Inspector General has repeatedly criticized Claypool for setting up roadblocks to interfere with the ongoing ethics investigation and for making repeated misstatements in interviews with investigators. Claypool has since apologized for those misstatements.

*** UPDATE *** From Forrest Claypool…

“I made a mistake. I can’t put my mind back in that high pressure place–when we were negotiating with the CTU and fighting to keep schools funded and open in the final days of the legislative session. But I look at the facts today and see that I misread the situation, and made mistakes in judgment, and I apologize for this.

“I pursued the goal of keeping schools open with the same single-mindedness with which I pursued every public position I’ve held over nearly 30 years. Like anyone else, I’m embarrassed by my mistakes, but remain proud of how we’ve moved this system forward despite seemingly insurmountable financial hurdles.

“However, let’s be clear about what this situation is and what it isn’t.

“This is not a case of anyone profiting off of CPS; no one in this story gained a dollar. This is not a case of anyone taking anything from children; this is a case of fighting to get more resources for children. In fact, the only ones who profited from this pursuit of justice were our students, who have another $450 million of funding from the state due to the efforts our team.

“To put this in perspective: This situation is about how I zealously tried to get Chicago students their fair share of state education dollars, after years and years racial discrimination, and getting those kids the best possible legal representation.

“While I continue to have a strong disagreement with Mr. Schuler’s interpretation of the Board policy – which I believe was written to prevent profiteering off the schools – I have already acknowledged that in my desire to ensure the best possible legal representation, and keep public attention focused squarely and solely on the civil rights injustice against CPS kids, that I mishandled some matters.

“I have fully acknowledged my mistakes in judgment and apologized. I apologize again today. But I do not regret the passion for justice that led to that mistake. I will always fight hard to ensure that CPS children, regardless of race or income, receive the educations they deserve.

“With apologies for errors I made along the way, I stand proud of the work I’ve done at CPS and throughout my career in service to the City of Chicago, to give its residents better parks, better trains and buses, and, most importantly, the best schools.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

32 Comments
  1. - cdog - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:03 pm:

    I guess we aren’t going to following the “Flynn Rule” in Illinois.


  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    Aw, c’mon, it’s not like Emanuel has ever put anyone in charge of CPS who did anything illegal.


  3. - FDB - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    CPS administration reminds me of the hapless owners of the Cleveland Browns.


  4. - City Zen - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:24 pm:

    Shouldn’t CPS’s elected school board make this decision? Oh, wait…


  5. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    ===Oh, wait… ===

    I literally laughed out loud at that one.


  6. - Louis G Atsaves - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:29 pm:

    He made a mistake and apologized vs. multiple stonewalling of the investigation.

    Time to release that report and make it public?


  7. - Juice - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:40 pm:

    Louis, the report is public.

    http://cpsoig.org/uploads/3/5/5/6/35562484/16-00924_final_summary_report.pdf


  8. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    Good for Ruiz in calling out Claypool.


  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 3:55 pm:

    Claypool has made a long career as Willie Cicci.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aK9OgXRDXxs


  10. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:17 pm:

    Who the hell does Forrest think he’s kidding with this self-serving claptrap. He wanted his crony as General Counsel and ignored the warnings not to do it. Then he lied repeatedly and covered up his conduct. Give me a break.


  11. - Louis G. Atsaves - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:17 pm:

    @Juice, thanks. A whole lot of reading here.


  12. - Wait and See - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    Emanuel’s mismanagement of both the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago (through his appointees) is reason enough to oust him from office in 2019.


  13. - Ron - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:32 pm:

    “Emanuel’s mismanagement of both the Chicago Public Schools and the City Colleges of Chicago (through his appointees) is reason enough to oust him from office in 2019.”

    What? Rahm, while certainly not perfect, has done a decent job managing those disasters. Look what Daley handed him. It will take decades to right them.


  14. - Arsenal - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:41 pm:

    Man, hard to think of someone who’s reputation has done more of a 180 than Claypool.


  15. - amalia - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:46 pm:

    @Wordslinger, good thing I had not take the sip of a drink. Lol.

    this is disappointing reading. Forrest has a soft spot for a couple for former Jenner pals. Not good.


  16. - Uptown Progressive - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:47 pm:

    Good article in Chicago Magazine referencing NY Times story that documents significant improvement in CPS. http://www.chicagomag.com/city-life/December-2017/New-Data-Suggest-Chicagos-Schools-Are-Better-Than-You-Might-Think/ Also remembering that a number of High Schools in CPS are among the best in the country. Working hard to make it better but lots of positive change.


  17. - Wensicia - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:53 pm:

    ==I will always fight hard to ensure that CPS children, regardless of race or income, receive the educations they deserve.==

    Except Special Education students, guess they’re not as deserving.


  18. - Teve DeMotte - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 4:59 pm:

    If anyone on this chain actually bothered to read Schuler’s report, it is clear Schuler’s conclusions are based on conjecture and not facts or evidence. The fact that the Schuler leaked versions of this final report in bits and pieces to the Sun-Times while conducting an investigation shows unethical judgement on the part of Schuler. Claypool was convicted in the court of public opinion before he had a chance to give his side of the story. From reading the report it appears Schuler puts a lot of spin on his conclusions, surmising Forrest lied and covered something up when, when it appears more a difference of opinion. The bottom line here is that no one appears to have profited from any of this, nor does it appear that there was anything consequential from Forrest’s alleged “cover up.” Schuler is trying to turn a misdemeanor into a felony with no basis of fact to support his spurious conclusions. This is the age we live in now. I don’t know Forrest Claypool, but by all appearances he is a good and decent man and he has taken some of the toughest challenges in government and done a good job.


  19. - Sue - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    Seems to be a clear effort at obstruction and or violations of the ethics act. Big mistake for the mayor to overlook this. Clear the decks for re-election. Claypool should do the honorable thing and offer up his resignation


  20. - Sue - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 5:12 pm:

    Forest- the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The prisons are full with people who can say the same things you are saying- I wanted a certain outcome so let’s ignore the law


  21. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 5:17 pm:

    Teve,

    Yea, I read the report. And no, your characterization is completely untrue but remarkably consistent with Forrest’s self-serving nonsense (did you write it for him or is that you Forrest?). He lied. He lied repeatedly just like he’s lying above in his statement. As Martin Ritter from CTU pointed out on Twitter, he wasn’t even at the table in the final negotiations. And even if he was, that has nothing to do with hiring a political crony after he was warned not to and then going forum shopping to find a legal opinion he liked after getting six that he didn’t. And he’s already admitted to lying about the billing changes.

    So no, what you say is completely untrue and a really pathetic rationalization for dishonest and unethical behavior.


  22. - Ron - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 5:53 pm:

    Who the heck would want to be in a room with Sharkey and Lewis?


  23. - Teve DeMotte - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 6:08 pm:

    Chicago Cynic,

    You read the report through the prism of CTU. That alone disqualifies you from providing any objective point of view. You are presuming that Schuler’s conclusions are true. It is not unreasonable to solicit legal opinions particularly in this case it appears. The bottom line here is one of intent and whether anyone was negatively impacted by this. To me, the answer is a resounding no. Again, I realize that CTU and people such as yourself enjoy seeing Claypool nailed to the cross because of your own selfish political perogatives. The fact remains however that Claypool saved CPS from backruptcy and part of that equation involves filing the civil rights lawsuit. While it appears he made a minor mistake, the fact is this whole “scandal” centers around fighting for disadvantaged kids. CTU did not fight for those kids and did nothing to secure the additional funding needed for CPS.


  24. - Rod - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 9:21 pm:

    Jesse Ruiz did nothing when the first stories broke about Barbra Byrd Bennett written by Ms Karp who is now at WBEZ radio. It is good now that he is no longer over at CPS to take such a brave stance.


  25. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 10:44 pm:

    Teve,

    You clearly know nothing about me. I have little sympathy for CTU. I merely pointed out that a participant in the negotiations said your boss’s statement was itself a lie. Given the number of times he lied to the IG, this is unsurprising and unremarkable. Your rationalizations do not and cannot Undo the deceit and coverup. As everyone knows, it’s not always the crime but the coverup. And in this case the coverup was a doozy.

    I would also point out that you have yet to contradict the fact that Claypool lied repeatedly and admitted as much in at least one case here. So yea, pretty comfortable that the messiah complex you and your boss hold is undeserved and does not justify his unethical conduct and sorry, but Arrogance is not a defense.


  26. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 10:47 pm:

    Oh, and one more thing. The civil rights lawsuit was always a joke. There was zero chance that suit was going to be successful. I thought when it was filed and still do that it was a stunt designed to distract. It did and now it’s being used as a justification for unethical conduct.


  27. - Anonymous - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 4:59 am:

    What does Claypool hold over Emanuel?

    Claypool is like a bad penny, he keeps surfacing over and over again. What’s his juice?


  28. - Ron - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 8:19 am:

    Claypool fixed CTA. It was a complete disaster before he was there.


  29. - anon - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 8:37 am:

    Claypool is a hatchet man from Park District to CTA to CPS . Just like Huberman was with Daley. No policy experience in any area. Destroy staff morale break the unions and move on. Lying to an IG is automatic termination for everyone else. Time to move on Forrest.


  30. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 8:49 am:

    I agree with Chicago Cynic. From what I know, it’s pretty much a settled issue that there is no right in federal law, the federal constitution, or the state constitution to equal education funding (as much as I don’t like it). That makes these ethical issues more substantial in my opinion.


  31. - anon2 - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 9:17 am:

    === mistakes in judgment…errors made along the way ===

    Claypool’s so-called apology does not specify exactly what he’s sorry for. He still argues his interpretation was correct. Is he remorseful for repeatedly lying to investigators and for stonewalling over many months? We can’t tell.


  32. - anon2 - Friday, Dec 8, 17 @ 9:24 am:

    Let’s stipulate the Claypool did some good in office. So did Al Franken. But that doesn’t excuse either one of them for their wrongdoing. Half-hearted apologies for vague venial sins don’t change that.


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