Attorney Ben Crump demands investigation into CPS treatment of Black principals

Thursday, July 6, 2023
Calls grow for investigation into CPS treatment of Black principals
Attorney Ben Crump has called for an investigation into Chicago Public Schools over its treatment of Black principals.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- There is a call for change at CPS and it centers on the treatment of Black principals.

Nationally recognized trial attorney Ben Crump says CPS has been targeting Black principals.

Thursday morning, he held a news conference outside CPS headquarters.

The civil rights attorney is accusing the district of discrimination and corruption over the release of several black principals in the CPS system and calling for an investigation.

Crump was joined by Father Michael Pfleger and members of the Rainbow PUSH coalition, along with leaders from the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

They said CPS used substandard investigative tactics with false statements to oust at least seven Black principals.

"When it happens three times, four times, five times, six times, seven times, it is a pattern and practice of discrimination against Black principals," Crump said.

Crump and supporters said they're outraged over several cases. One involves the release of Abdul Muhammad back in March. He was the principal at Lindblom Math and Science Academy. He was at the news conference Thursday.

At the time, CPS would only say he was released due to an investigation that substantiated findings against him, but there were no specifics.

While Muhammad was reluctant to discuss the investigation, others were not.

"It was stated in a text that went out to staff persons that we did not need him there because he was part of the Black group of Muslims," said Lynn White, who was chairperson of the selection committee at Lindblom at the time of Muhammad's appointment.

CPS had the same response when they released Hyde Park Academy's principal Antonio Ross last spring. CPS refuses to comment on personnel matters.

Advocates said the problem with Muhammad's process and others is that they are weighted against the person being investigated. They're now calling on the Justice Department to investigate.

"There is no due process whatsoever," said Troy LaRaviere, Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. "We need an overhaul to make sure the system does what it needs to do."

CPS released a statement Wednesday saying, "At Chicago Public Schools (CPS) we know that Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and other school leaders of color make a huge impact in the lives of our students, not only academically, but socially, emotionally, and mentally. While we have made great strides to ensure that the diversity of our school leaders and central and network staff reflects the diversity of our student body, we are committed to continuing to invest in recruitment and retention efforts.

"As a District, we strive to make sure all our schools have strong leaders dedicated to the success of their staff, students, and communities. The District has comprehensive procedures in place to thoroughly investigate allegations of staff misconduct, ensuring our employees are afforded proper due process, and make fair employment decisions. Such investigations take time and preclude us from providing ongoing and detailed updates, however, we are confident in the decisions made by the leaders of our District.

"We are committed to continuing to work with families and community members to ensure that we address their concerns and ensure that our schools are safe and inclusive learning environments for all students and staff."