A Chicago Public Schools principal had recently been issued a verbal warning in a different misconduct investigation at the time he allegedly threw a water bottle that hit a lunchroom worker in the face last month, the school district confirmed Tuesday.
Kurt Jones, the Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center principal, is facing scrutiny after the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday he was accused of causing a school worker’s concussion, one of a series of issues that several parents, workers and teachers said has caused a “hostile environment” at the top-rated school.
A police report was filed in the bottle-throwing incident, but Jones has not been charged with a crime, nor has he been publicly identified by Chicago police as the offender in the case.
Jones remains on the job as of Tuesday, a CPS spokeswoman said, while both police and schools officials investigate the accusation. Meanwhile Faye Jenkins, the school lunchroom worker hit by the bottle, has been experiencing worsening headaches and was ordered by a doctor last week to undergo a CT scan for her concussion, medical records show.
One of the other incidents in the Sun-Times report involved a man in December 2018 tossing a chair from a second-floor balcony in the lunchroom at Franklin, a scene that was caught on video. Four people identified the man in the video as Jones, and two said the video was sent to CPS this past January.
CPS spokeswoman Emily Bolton confirmed Tuesday the district received that complaint and Jones was investigated for the incident. He was ultimately issued a verbal reprimand, Bolton said.
She added that “the district is thoroughly investigating the March 2020 allegation and will respond appropriately based on the findings. The district will evaluate concerns in totality, and we are committed to investigating any and all concerning allegations.”
CPS’ director of principals, Zipporah Hightower, said in a letter to families this week that she was “writing to address a recent news story regarding allegations of a hostile work environment at Franklin Fine Arts.”
“Please know that we take all employee complaints seriously and are committed to completing a thorough investigation into these allegations,” Hightower wrote, adding that “the district has taken proactive steps to discuss these allegations with staff,” and is making the school counselor and social worker available for students who need support.
The letter was the district’s first communication to the school community about the incidents involving Jones and came 17 days after the police report was filed.
Jones’ contract was set to expire this summer but was renewed in February through June 2024. He did not respond to calls or messages Tuesday.