Sanders Slams Chicago Mayor Over School Firing

     CHICAGO (CN) — Chicago elementary school principal Troy LaRaviere, an outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, was removed from his position Wednesday, a move that drew rebuke from Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.
     LaRaviere was principal of Blaine Elementary School, and had scheduled a meeting with other school principals on the South Side later in the week.
     This meeting was not related to his dismissal, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Emily Bittner told the Chicago Sun Times.
     But the dismissal grabbed the attention of Sanders, who on Thursday released a statement saying “It is absolutely unacceptable that a school principal is facing politically-motivated retaliation because he dared to stand up to the mayor of Chicago.
     “Principal LaRaviere, who won three straight principal merit awards handed out by the mayor, is getting results for the students at Blaine Elementary,” the senator continued. “The only explanation for his removal appears to be Mayor Emanuel’s unhealthy obsession with taking revenge.
     “If we are going to build an economy that works for all, we cannot sit back and watch as workers face retaliation from bosses. I condemn Principal LaRaviere’s reassignment and call on Democrats around the country to stand up against Mayor Emanuel’s pettiness,” Sanders added.
     LaRaviere was formally censured last year, which some have speculated was retaliation for his work as an education adviser to Emanuel’s mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.
     Emmanuel was forced into a run-off election when he was unable to secure a majority of votes in the general election due to a strong showing of support for Garcia.
     The principal was also accused of “insubordination directed toward the CEO,” during a July 2015 budget meeting, in which he “asked a provocative question from the audience attempting to highlight financial missteps of the Board and demanding an answer to those missteps.”
     LaRaviere appears in a TV ad for Sanders’ campaign, in which he says “The chief politician standing in the way of us getting good schools is our mayor.”
     He runs an outspoken blog, which he calls “a place to discuss a better school system for all Chicagoans.”
     In a post on Friday, he said he still has not been informed of the charges against him.
     “The corruption behind CPS’s actions that day was readily apparent. I intend to write about it soon, In the meantime, my attorney wants me to spend some time with him preparing our case. I’ll have a statement ready once that work is done,” LaRaviere said.
     In an emailed statement, CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said: “CPS has removed Troy LaRaviere because of alleged acts of misconduct, including violations of a previous Warning Resolution passed by the Board of Education. A hearing will be held to determine his employment status.”
     Eighty-six Chicago schools were closed from 2001 to 2009, and another 49 schools closed in 2013.
     Of this total, 89 percent of were schools whose populations were overwhelming black.
     The Chicago teachers union sued the city last year claiming that Chicago Public Schools subject underperforming schools to “turnaround,” a process which dismisses all faculty and staff and replaces them.
     In 2013, 73 percent of the tenured teachers fired in turnarounds were black, despite the fact black teachers make up only 24 percent of all tenured teachers, the complaint says. LaRaviere was making a bid to become president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association labor group, but he is now barred from meeting with other school principals on an official basis.

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