Two Lincoln Park High School administrators ousted amidst allegations they minimized sexual misconduct reports and didn’t protect whistleblowers and victims strongly defended their actions, denied wrongdoing and said Chicago Public Schools officials never told them why they were fired.
Former interim Principal John Thuet and former Assistant Principal Michelle Brumfield said in a written statement issued Friday that they learned the details about the allegations against them only through media accounts, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We still have no clear idea why we were terminated,” the two said in a letter released by their attorney, Matthew Ryan. “We’ve heard allegations through the media, but CPS has told us nothing directly. Any suggestion that either of us engaged in, tolerated or minimized any ‘sexual misconduct’ is false, offensive and destructive. So too are claims of a cover up or improper reporting.”
The letter said the district rolled out its new procedures for investigating sex abuse haphazardly and offered contradictory instructions on what to do, and provided little training.
Ryan did not respond to requests for comment. Repeated attempts to reach Thuet and Brumfield have been unsuccessful.
The administrators’ statement came after CPS officials met with representatives of the school’s local school council Tuesday and alleged that administrators: minimized sexual misconduct allegations; didn’t protect the whistleblowers or the alleged victims from bullying and retaliation; withheld key evidence from investigators; and lied to families about the status of investigations, sources with knowledge of the meeting told the Sun-Times.
“Administrators at Lincoln Park High School failed to promote the best interests of their students and endangered victims who were counting on their support,” CPS spokesman Michael Passman said in a statement. “While we understand this is a challenging time for the school community, administrators must prioritize the safety of all students and failures of integrity cannot be excused.”
The allegations were relayed to the full school council Thursday night, but LSC members voted to retain an attorney to conduct a separate probe into the series of allegations, saying they didn’t trust CPS’ probe. Passman responded that the LSC was not authorized to do so.
At the meeting, Ryan characterized the firing of Thuet and Brumfield as a “wrongful dismissal.”
Ryan said his clients “took each and every allegation of misconduct that came to their attention seriously and they each acted promptly, in good faith, and in the best interests of the students and the community.”
The series of problems at Lincoln Park, which have led to five investigations, started after what CPS officials said was an unauthorized boys basketball team trip to Detroit at the end of December. The coach of the team has since been suspended, as has the remainder of the team’s season. Later other allegations surfaced regarding the girls basketball team. And a police report was generated and a civil lawsuit filed after an alleged sexual assault involving two students.