CPS principal, mayoral critic to tell of CPS charges he faces

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Ousted Principal Troy LaRaviere | Sun-Times file photo

Principal Troy LaRaviere, who’s been ousted from a Lake View elementary school, plans to finally discuss the charges Chicago Public Schools has filed against him at a news conference Thursday morning.

LaRaviere, one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s loudest critics who actively campaigned against him, says he will speak to the charges he faces for the first time since being forced out of top-rated Blaine Elementary School.

He had a formal hearing on Wednesday before a hired independent hearing officer at Chicago Public Schools to determine the future of his job.

District spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the hearing officer likely wouldn’t make a recommendation for a few days. If the officer elects to discipline LaRaviere, his case would then go before the Illinois State Board of Education, whose recommendations would return to CPS for a vote by the mayor’s appointed school board.

Bittner has denied that his removal was politically motivated, saying that CPS removed LaRaviere “because of alleged acts of misconduct, including violations of a previous Warning Resolution passed by the Board of Education” last summer. Bittner declined to reveal the charges against him but repeated that he is free to do so himself.

LaRaviere declined to comment, saying he will speak on Thursday at the Wishbone restaurant near his school.

LaRaviere, who has won the mayor’s bonus for outstanding principals each time the cash prize was offered, was suddenly benched last month and barred from CPS property as he campaigned for the presidency of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. He was technically reassigned to his home and continues to draw pay.

On his personal blog, where he often opines on CPS’ shortcomings, he hypothesized that his dismissal was related to his campaign to head the CPAA as well as to questions he was going to raise about a lucrative janitorial services contract awarded to a company that donated to Emanuel’s campaign. Two of CPS’ highest officials signed nominating petitions on behalf of his opponent, he wrote, and permitted his “opponent to travel from school to school during the day, interrupting principals during their workday to campaign against me” while he could not return to “any CPS location for any reason.”

He also speculated that CPS had been reading his email and while doing so, confused meetings he’d scheduled on the same day with principals about the upcoming election and with a tipster about the contract.

Last August, he was formally censured by the Board of Education in a warning resolution, accused of “insubordination directed toward the CEO” during a July 13 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.”

He also was chided in a January report by CPS’ inspector general, accused of violating ethical rules barring district employees from using their office for political activity as he campaigned on behalf of Emanuel challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Though LaRaviere’s name didn’t appear in that report, sources have confirmed it’s him.

LaRaviere campaigned this spring in Chicago on behalf of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and cut a campaign ad in which he said, “In Chicago, we have endured a corrupt political system. And the chief politician standing in the way of us getting good schools is our mayor.”

That ad also grabbed the attention of the inspector general, who began an investigation.

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