Chicago Citizens United to

Preserve Public Education

For Immediate Release: May 27, 2014 Contact: Valerie F. Leonard, 773-571-3886

Dwayne Truss
773-879-5216 (cell)

Community Groups to Board of Education:
Nullify Vote to Turnaround 3 Schools,
Put a Moratorium on All School Actions

Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education recently filed complaints to the Inspectors
General for Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the United States Department of Education, asking them to
investigate the relationships among CPS board members and the Academy of Urban School Leadership
(AUSL). The Inspectors General were asked to examine the Board of Education's last votes to turn over 3
schools to AUSL for turnaround to determine if there were any conflicts of interest among board members
and AUSL; to analyze the relationship--if any-- between political contributions to Mayor Emanuel from
AUSL board members and the significant increase in the number of Chicago Public Schools turned over to
AUSL on a no bid basis and to determine if AUSL turnarounds are the most cost effective solution given
their less than stellar results.
"We believe that, given the fact that two of the five board members present and voting during the
April meeting have apparent conflicts of interest stemming from relationships with AUSL, that the vote
should be nullified", said Valerie F. Leonard, spokesperson for the group. David Vitale was the chairman
of AUSL's board prior to assuming his position as President of the Board of Education. Mr. Vitale did not
recuse himself from voting to turn over the 3 schools to AUSL for turnaround. Dr. Carlos Azcoitia is
employed by National Louis University, which is the exclusive trainer for AUSL teachers. Dr. Azcoitia
voted to reconstitute the 3 schools, but abstained from voting on the underlying AUSL management
contract to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. "It stands to reason, that if one has a conflict of
interest in voting for the AUSL management contract, then he has a conflict of interest in voting to re-
constitute the school-- especially if he knows that the only option for school improvement at the time is an
AUSL turnaround", Leonard said. The investigations are ongoing.
Board member Jesse Ruiz has indicated in a Catalyst Chicago Magazine article that the
Board “should always critically review all of our contracts… We should always be reviewing
alternatives to make sure we provide the best for children and the City of Chicago.”
That same article indicated that Board member " (Carlos) Azcoitia says he would like for
CPS to develop its internal capacity to overhaul struggling schools. He notes that with budget
constraints, the district’s new Office of Strategic School Support Services, known as OS4, is less
expensive than contracting out the service."
"If Mr. Ruiz and Dr. Azcoitia are serious, they would go to tomorrow's board meeting, and
make a motion to reconsider last month's vote to turnaround 3 schools. They should vote--not on
whether the schools should be re-constituted--but instead-- to improve the schools through a
community-teacher driven process", said Carolina Gaete, a member of Chicago Citizens United to
Preserve Public Education.
"What CPS is doing is wrong on so many levels", said Dwayne Truss, also a member of the group.
"We have come up with a list of nine recommendations going forward. The first order of business for the
Board should be to nullify last month's vote, followed by an intensive review of the Board's ethics policies.
The practice of re-constituting schools should be abolished altogether, because it's expensive, and the
results are questionable. In fact, the biggest winner in the whole process is not our students, but AUSL",
Truss said. Other recommendations include having elected officials host public hearings and independent
reviews to investigate the CPS process for evaluating AUSL costs and effectiveness; having CPS support
community-teacher led change initiatives; a moratorium on all school actions, including closures and
turnarounds; an elected representative school board that is accountable to the citizens of Chicago.
Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Education is a coalition of grassroots community based
organizations and individuals, including Blocks Together, Educational Village Keepers Parent Teacher
Student Association; Valerie F. Leonard, Co-Founder, the Lawndale Alliance; Dr. Pauline Lipman,
Teachers for Social Justice; Dr. Grady Jordan, Retired Chicago Public Schools Administrator;
Yvette Moyo, Co-Founder, Real Men Charities, Inc. and Real Men Cook; Dr. Carmen Palmer, President,
Educational Village Keepers Parent Teacher Student Association; Parents for Teachers; Dwayne Truss,
PACE; Julie Woestehoff, Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE).
A press conference will be held Tuesday, May 27, at 10:00 am in front of CPS headquarters, 125
South Clark Street in Chicago, to urge the Board of Education to nullify April's vote to turn over 3 schools
to AUSL for turnaround.

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