I-Team: Questions Emanuel wanted new CPS CEO to avoid

June 16, 2011 1:08:47 PM PDT
When public officials refuse to answer or even entertain questions that is normally a red flag for the I-Team. So when Chicago Public Schools superintendent-appointee Jean-Claude Brizard was muzzled Monday by Mayor-elect Emanuel, the I-Team started looking at what questions should have been asked.

First, there is the ethical question of that long term contract that Brizard signed late last year with Rochester, New York school officials. The contract paid him $235,000 and his often-stated pledge, which is still on the school district website, is to carry out his five year plan.

Second: the legal question of a newly signed contract in New York that requires "termination by mutual agreement." That means the school board in Rochester has to agree to let Brizard out of his commitment.

"I am not happy at all about that. I'm disappointed that he would do that to us. I consider him a friend, but I am very disappointed in my friend," said Adam McFadden, Rochester school board member.

Then there are the questions about why Brizard was unreachable the past week by phone or text message. School board members and city officials said that for days he would not return their calls.

"I'm sorry that he's leaving. I said all along that I thought he was the right person for the job, I wanted him to stay and I was willing to do what I could to support his activities over there so I think it's unfortunate for us that he's leaving," said Mayor Tom Richards of Rochester.

In addition to the recent no-confidence vote by 94 percent of Rochester teachers, some school district officials wanted Brizard out as long ago as last summer.

Finally, there are questions about whether his wife, K. Brooke Stafford Brizard, is a part of his Chicago Public Schools deal. In Rochester, while slashing public school budgets, Brizard moved to enlist new privately run charter schools, including an all-girls charter school that was to have been led by his wife and open in 2012.

When news reports surfaced late last year about his wife angling for a role in the all-girls charter school, Superintendent Brizard said he was trying to keep the media off of the story until the charter application was in. Brizard's new boss, Rahm Emanuel, successfully did the same thing by keeping media questioners at bay.


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