CHICAGO (Heartland Newsfeed) — Forrest Claypool, chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, recently resigned following the release of a damning report filed by the district’s office of the inspector general.
The report, cited in a recent Chicago Tribune story, concluded that Claypool and the district’s general counsel Ronald Marmer blatantly violated the district’s code of ethics by improperly utilizing “contract management authority,” citing work that was done by Jenner Block. Jenner Block had a prior business relationship with Marmer and inspector general Nicholas Schuler exposed that Claypool covered up this information by altering financial records to conceal a conflict of interest.
The report additionally cites that both Marmer and Claypool were allowed ample time to correct their actions after alerted by ethics advisor Andra Gomberg, deputy special counsel Ruchi Verma, senior assistant general counsel Andrew Slobodien and legal counsel attorney Joseph Moriarty of the violation.
Both Claypool and Marmer ignored Gomberg’s advice, opting to seek counsel from two lawyers outside the district, according to the report. Upon questioning from a former member of general legal counsel, Patrick Rocks and labor law attorney James Franczek, Claypool refused to let Marmer terminate his role with Jenner because he didn’t want the matter to go public.
Claypool had served in the CEO post since 2015 and had strong support from Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. The support from Emanuel ended approximately 48 hours prior to Claypool’s resignation, according to CBS 2 News Chicago. Claypool also realized his inability to remain in the role, as support dwindled among people he’s worked with in the past, which includes two Democratic Party candidates vying for the attorney general post.
“The inequity cited in the article are exactly the ones I was attacking,” Claypool said Dec. 8 in announcing his resignation. “I made serious errors in judgement. I regret my actions and I have apologized for them.”
However, Claypool refused to leave before reminding those in the room of his accomplishments while CEO.
“Despite the dire financial circumstances, we have fought our way through these past several years,” he said. “That academic process has continued.”
After the announcement from Claypool, Schuler also spoke with the local media.
“I think it’s the right decision,” Schuler said. “It’s consistent with what we recommended. It’s a way for the district to move on and establish institutional credibility.
Claypool’s career as a Chicago elected official appears to be over after this scandal. Before becoming CEO of the school district, Claypool worked as superintendent of the Chicago Park District from 1993-1998, president of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) in 2011 and Emanuel’s chief of staff in 2015.
“Every time I’ve known him, he has been selfless, and more than just selfless he has been courageous, to take institutional inertia and make the entity, whether it was the Park District, the CTA or CPS better,” Emanuel said at Claypool’s resignation.
CBS 2 News said Janice Jackson, CPS’ chief education officer, will assume the role of interim school CEO.
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.