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Former Blaine principal Troy LaRaviere tells his side of story

Troy LaRaviere | Sun-Times file photo

Controversial Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy LaRaviere, who was removed from his job last month, alleges he was given short notice for a meeting with Chicago Public Schools officials on “ethics and other matters” and is now banned from all CPS schools, “effectively handicapping” his ability to campaign for president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

In a blog he posted Thursday, he also claims CPS’ top two academic officials, chief education officer Janice Jackson and senior adviser Denise Little, signed the petition for his opponent — who is being allowed “to interrupt principals during the school day to campaign” — in the upcoming election.

In a message to parents, the Local School Council and community members, CPS announced on April 20 that the vocal principal and frequent critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel had been reassigned from his post at Blaine.

Effective the next day, Pedro Alonso, the principal of Von Steuben High School from 2006 to 2014, took his place, the district said.

LaRaviere claims CPS violated due process by sending a “hasty and shameful” email on April 19, asking for a meeting “regarding ethics and other matters” for the next day — the day he was ousted as Blaine’s principal.

“CPS claimed I missed a disciplinary meeting to discuss my ’employment status.’ . . . there is no mention of any possible discipline or misconduct violations” in the email, LaRaviere said in the blog post. “There is no reference to ’employment status’ or even any direct indication that a policy violation had occurred. Just a vague reference to ‘ethics.’ Second: it was sent on short notice the day before the meeting. Third: it was sent via email. No phone call. No letter. Just a vague email the day before the meeting.”

LaRaviere alleges in the post that he didn’t receive the email on time because he took a sick day to care for his son, who had minor surgery that day.

He also said district officials moved with “reckless haste” in an attempt to shut down a meeting last month at Stevenson Elementary School, during which he said he was planning to discuss the principals’ election.

LaRaviere said in the post he had two more meetings related to the principals’ election scheduled, but language in his termination letter “shut down” those meetings.

“The letter explicitly directed me not to return to ‘any CPS location for any reason.’ . . . I couldn’t have my CPAA campaign meetings at Whitney Young and Alcott,” the blog post said. “Meanwhile I’d been informed CPS officials were allowing my opponent to travel from school to school during the day, interrupting principals during their workday to campaign against me.”

Within hours of the attempted shutdown at Stevenson, LaRaviere claims the district sent someone to the house where his son and his son’s mother live to serve him his reassignment letter.

“If they sent someone to my home to deliver the notice you would think they could have at least picked up the phone to notify me of my discipline meeting,” LaRaviere said in the blog.

CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner said Thursday that LaRaviere’s removal was due to violating the directives in a warning resolution.

“CPS 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.”

In August 2015, LaRaviere was formally censured by Chicago’s Board of Education in a warning resolution that’s an early step in the district’s termination process. A CPS spokesman then denied that the discipline came in retaliation for LaRaviere’s work as an education adviser to Emanuel’s mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia.

At the time, LaRaviere also was accused of “insubordination directed toward the CEO” during a July 13, 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 had been at Blaine, 1420 W. Grace, since 2011.

A presuspension hearing will be held to determine whether LaRaviere could be suspended without pay.