Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis files retirement papers

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has filed her retirement papers, ABC7 has confirmed.

Lewis, 64, was diagnosed with an aggressive type of brain cancer in 2014 at a time when she was considering a run for mayor. She returned to work after treatment, but had a stroke in 2017.

Earlier this month Lewis underwent a "planned medical procedure."

In a statement Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said, "I've seen firsthand the tenacity and drive that makes Karen Lewis a worthy advocate for Chicago children and teachers, and we've grown to admire each other as a friends. Karen may be stepping down from her position at CTU, but I know she'll never stop fighting for Chicago's children."

Lewis was elected CTU president in 2010. Prior to becoming president, she taught high school chemistry for 22 years in Chicago Public Schools. Lewis also attended CPS schools as a child.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice Jackson said in a statement, "Karen Lewis has been a tireless advocate for Chicago's educators and students, and she's someone I've been honored to call a partner and a friend for many years. I want to thank Karen for her commitment to promoting quality instruction, and I know she will remain an important voice for our schools going forward."

In a statement released Friday evening, Lewis wrote:

"Given my health challenges, it is unlikely that I will return to my beloved classroom. In light of that, and after much consideration, I recently submitted a retirement request to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund, ending my tenure as an educator with Chicago Public Schools.

For nearly three decades, I have worked to educate our city's children and provide them with a foundation for learning that will follow them throughout their lives. In the coming weeks, I will make a determination regarding my role as president of the Chicago Teachers Union and our path forward in fighting for the schools our children deserve.

I am nearing the end of my third term. I remain your president today, with a strong leadership team that includes our Vice President, Jesse Sharkey. I will be engaging with my fellow CTU officers and members about our direction forward over the months ahead and will be communicating with you in the coming days."
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