Afternoon Edition: April 21, 2020

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Franklin Fine Arts Principal Kurt Jones. | Twitter

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition

Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be sunny with a high near 51 degrees. The low tonight will be around 37 degrees. Tomorrow will be warmer: Partly sunny with a high near 63 degrees and some showers in the afternoon.

Top story

CPS principal, already under scrutiny, investigated for ‘inappropriate conduct’ with student

A Chicago Public Schools principal accused of injuring a school employee by throwing a bottle at her last month is also under investigation for “inappropriate conduct” with one or more students.

The revelation of the investigation by the school district’s inspector general’s office adds to a list of troubles for Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center Principal Kurt Jones, who remains on the job this week. An online petition urging his removal has been signed by more than 650 people as of today.

We previously reported that CPS’ Law Department and the Chicago Police Department are looking into a March 20 incident in which Jones allegedly hit a Franklin lunchroom worker in the face with a water bottle. Medical records show she has since developed worsening headaches and a concussion.

Jones has not been charged with a crime, nor has he been publicly identified by Chicago police as the offender in the case. CPD and CPS said their respective investigations remain ongoing one month after the incident.

And it now has been more than three months since then-Inspector General Nicholas Schuler’s office told Jones “we have received allegations against you involving inappropriate conduct with a student(s),” according to a letter we recently obtained.

We interviewed two of the Franklin parents, who provided copies of separate complaints they sent to CPS.

One letter describes “very disturbing behavior” the parent’s child had witnessed at school, including Jones allegedly “rubbing children’s backs, cracking their necks, giving them hugs,” all actions that have made students “incredibly uncomfortable.”

The inspector general’s office typically reviews a set of allegations as soon as they’re received and immediately sends a recommendation to CPS whether or not to remove the employee in question. In this case, the IG’s office didn’t recommend removing Jones, CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton said.

Read the full story from Nader Issa.

More news you need

  1. After weeks of speculation over the fate of some of Chicago’s biggest summer festivals, official word arrived today that the Chicago Blues Festival and Gospel Festival have been canceled. See the other festivals that have been nixed.
  2. Illinois officials said another 119 people have died from COVID-19 in Illinois today as the state anticipates an extension of the stay-at-home order (Mayor Lori Lightfoot said it could last well into June). In total, 1,468 people have died from the outbreak.
  3. Housing advocates are urging the Chicago Housing Authority to open up its nearly 2,000 vacant units to people experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. Their demands come as homelessshelters across the city fear becoming overwhelmed in the coming days.
  4. Leaked recordings are putting a spotlight on Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s “decisive and frequently impatient style” with Chicago’s aldermen at a moment when coordination is critical. Many aldermen told ProPublica Illinois they feel like bystanders in the city’s fight against coronavirus.
  5. On Holocaust Remembrance Day, theAnti-Defamation League has released a surveyfinding nearly two-thirds of American Jews feel less safe than they did a decade ago.ADL Midwest Chief David Goldenberg said with more anti-Semitic incidents occurring on a daily basis, the finding is “unsurprising.”
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A bright one

When toilet paper and hand sanitizer began flying off the shelves, maybe you thought: Is food next? Should I start growing my own?

That’s a good idea, says Lisa Hilgenberg, a horticulturalist at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe.

Think of it as “self reliance,“ said Hilgenberg. But it’s also a good way to celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day — Wednesday and Friday, respectively — while getting outside, even if it’s only to fill a few pots on a high-rise balcony.

“You really learn by doing,” Hilgenberg said. “Start small and just plant something.”

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Lisa Hilgenberg, a horticulturalist at Chicago Botanic Garden, suggests planting vegetables, fruit trees and edible flowers — as a way to celebrate both Earth and Arbor days and to de-stress. | Provided

Despite the recent snow in the Chicago area, it’s not too early to begin planting cool season seeds outside, like lettuce, cabbage, carrots, radishes and arugula. It’s also a good time to plant fruit trees, such as apple or pear varieties.

“Be sure to remember to stop and smell the flowers and enjoy that beauty, which really is so uplifting — not to mention all the vitamin D you’re getting from working out in the sunshine,” Hilgenberg said.

Read the full story from Stefano Esposito. And if you’re ready to get your hands dirty,here’s our guide on how to create a garden on a balcony, deck or patio.

From the press box

The Bears remain silent on whether they’re going to exercise quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’sfifth-year option ahead of the May 4 deadline. With the draft this week, GM Ryan Pace said of Trubisky’s option: “We’ll cross that bridge once we get through this weekend.”

Pace also made clear today that it’s open competition at kicker between incumbent Eddy Piñeiro and newcomer Ramiz Ahmed, who signed with the team last week. Ahmed kicked in college at Nevada.

Your daily question☕

With today’s announcement that Chicago’s Blues Festival and others have been canceled, we want to know: What’s your favorite summer festival in Chicago?

Reply to this email (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you how you wish you could spend 4/20 amid the stay-at-home order and social distancing rules. Here’s what some of you said…

“I wish I was smoking a doobie at Wrigley while watching a Cubs game!”— Mousi Talavera

“I wish I was on North Avenue Beach smoking some kush and just looking at the waves of Lake Michigan rolling in.”— Lindsay Lawson

“Wish we could’ve had a large gathering outside and passed around a big joint.”— Sarah Spur

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