ABC7 Chicago Exclusive: Brizard details CPS resignation

November 1, 2012 3:13:50 PM PDT
In an ABC7 Chicago exclusive, former Chicago Public School's CEO Jean Claude Brizard talked about the reasons for his resignation.

Brizard resigned last month after just 17 months on the job and said, among other things, that the chemistry with Mayor Rahm Emanuel simply did not work.

At the time, Brizard said he was stepping down because he didn't want to become a distraction, but he has now gone into details.

"My goal has been to let the story go away not to kick the dust," Brizard said. "There's enough work to be done at CPS."

But now former CPS CEO feels freer to talk about his abrupt, and what some call his forced exit from the top spot at Chicago Public Schools. He told ABC 7 exclusively that it's been tremendously stressful on him and his family.

"I have been quiet by design," he said. "I took a couple of days and went to the Michigan shore just to think and it rained every day, but you know what, it was a good thing."

In October, in the wake of a nationally scrutinized teacher's strike, Brizard and Mayor Emanuel agreed to part ways. Brizard says their differences started to manifest as far back as a year ago.

"I don't think the strike itself really was sort of the final straw, but nonetheless, that amongst a bunch of other things may have played a role throughout the past maybe 12 months," he said.

While Emanuel hand-picked Brizard 17 months ago to head up the nation's third largest school district, Brizard says in the end it came down to a lack of chemistry.

"But certainly in terms of leadership styles, mine perhaps and his, I did see that perhaps there were some chemistry issue, and I am going to use the word chemistry," Brizard said. "I don't know how else to explain it."

During the seven day teacher's strike, Brizard was not at the negotiating table and he was yanked from speaking publicly after he'd been very accessible to the media. He says, all of a sudden, requests were no longer forwarded to him.

"So it's interesting. No one said to me to keep quiet, just that I wasn't engaged in anything," he said. "I don't know (why). I have not asked the question frankly. So I don't know exactly why. I don't think it's relevant anymore."

Brizard will officially leave the district in two months

He takes with him a year's worth of pay at $250,000 dollars funded by Chicago taxpayers, but he says he would prefer to have his job instead.

"I am grateful to the city and to the taxpayers here, but at the same time this was a contract I negotiated to protect my family but again my primary goal would rather be employed and not be looking for a job in this economy," he said.

ABC7 Chicago reached out to the mayor's office Thursday and they released a statement saying, "As the mayor has said before, J.C. can be proud of the work he did and the accomplishments made during his time at CPS."

Brizard feels proud of his accomplishments at CPS, with graduation rates going up under his leadership and rising act scores.

He has no plans to take another job as a school superintendent anytime soon, though he wants to stay in urban education, perhaps in Chicago. But he has family in New York.


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