Daley defends alderman's actions

Alderman intervenes in daughter's admission to magnet school
August 13, 2009 (CHICAGO) The alderman's admission comes as federal investigators are looking into allegations clout is being used to get students into some of Chicago's best schools.

Mayor Richard Daley "flipped the script" on the Ricardo Munoz story. He said that Alderman Munoz was only doing his job as a parent and public servant. And Daley said the clout investigation proves he's doing his job rebuilding the city's public education system.

"I know Rick Munoz. He loves his children, yes, and his constituents. I wrote letters for a lot of kids," said Mayor Daley.

In the mayor's view, there was nothing wrong with Alderman Rick Munoz writing letters and making phone calls to get his daughter accepted at the Whitney Young Magnet High School.

"I bet he did make a call. Maybe sent a letter just asking for their consideration," said Daley.

Munoz's 22nd Ward includes the predominantly Mexican-American Little Village neighborhood. His son graduated from Whitney Young in June and he used that association to plead for the admission of his 15-year-old daughter as an incoming freshman next month. She apparently missed the cut without her father's intervention.

Munoz, whom ABC7 spoke to by telephone on Thursday afternoon, said: "I intervened not as an alderman but as a parent who had been active at the school for several years".

The mayor, who has not always agreed with Munoz on issues facing the city, said aldermen have no conflict of interest when they deal with public school officials.

"They have no power over the board of education. They don't fund them. They don't review their budgets or anything else," said Daley.

School board president Michael Scott says he was subpoenaed as part of an ongoing federal investigation into the possible use of clout to gain certain students admission into the city's elite magnet schools.

The mayor said reports of extraordinary efforts by some parents to get their kids into any city schools is evidence of cps improvements.

"Before, no one was calling. No one was asking. But everybody was saying where can I go? The thing is that we have to build better schools. In every community, give everybody the same opportunity so we only have four or five or six schools," said Daley.

Last week, we heard a highly placed official in the Daley administration wonder why the feds are focused on alleged clout in the city public schools while appearing to ignore the university of Illinois which has acknowledged a rampant problem in its publicly funded system.

ABC7 learned from other sources on Thursday that the federal investigation appears to be aimed at finding out if there was ever cash, favors or valuable items exchanged for an admission to a magnet school.

Charles has more on the political beat in his Precinct 7 Blog.

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