Ex-CPS principal charged with injuring school lunchroom worker
Kurt Jones, the embattled ex-principal, resigned late last week after a CPS investigation uncovered numerous misconduct allegations against him.
A former Chicago Public Schools principal has been charged with a felony in connection with allegedly throwing a hard plastic water bottle at a school lunchroom worker, hitting her in the head and leaving her with a concussion.
The embattled ex-principal, 46-year-old Kurt Jones, resigned late last week after a CPS investigation uncovered several misconduct allegations against him and concluded heconducted himself in a “categorically unprofessional” manner in his four years at a top-rated CPS school, Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center.
CPS officials began their probe after Jones allegedly threw the bottle March 20 and hit cafeteria manager Faye Jenkins in the face, leading to Jenkins’ concussion and other facial injuries. The district probe grew in scope as new, unrelated complaints poured in after a Chicago Sun-Times report in early April detailed the lunchroom worker’s injuries.
At the same time, Chicago police looked into possible criminal charges for the bottle-throwing incident after Jenkins filed a police report. More than three months later, Jones was arrested Thursday and charged with aggravated battery of a school employee.
Jones appeared at a hearing on the charges Friday at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse and was ordered released on a personal recognizance bond.
Prosecutors: Previous complaints against Jones
Cook County prosecutors said Jones was “horsing around” with Jenkins, despite Jenkins having previously complained about similar behavior by Jones to the school’s assistant principal, which they said did not result in an action being taken by the school.
That assistant principal said in an interview with CPS investigators in early April that a group of school workers would often “play,” and described their interactions as “adults goofing around” and “just horseplay, goofiness back and forth,” according to the district report.
“[She] stated ... that she has never had anyone complain to her about the interactions,” the CPS report said.
Prosecutors said before throwing the bottle at Jenkins, Jones was horsing around with other school employees as they prepared lunches for children while the school was closed during the pandemic. Jones threw two lunches on the ground near other employees and Jenkins “made it clear she didn’t want to participate in any games or horseplay,” prosecutors said.
Jones later went into the kitchen prep area where Jenkins was working, telling others he “wanted to get” Jenkins, while holding a shoe in one hand and the water bottle in the other, prosecutors said.
Jones first threw the shoe at Jenkins, but missed, according to prosecutors, who said Jenkins again said she didn’t want to participate. Jones then threw the water bottle at Jenkins, striking her in the face, which resulted in Jenkins suffering a bloody nose, a cut to her head that required stitches and a concussion, prosecutors said.
Jones was “shocked” and “took full responsibility,” prosecutors said, before he left the area.
‘Justice was served’
Jenkins told the Sun-Times Friday she’s “glad justice was served,” even if she had to be patient over the past few months.
“No one deserves to be at work with things thrown at you,” Jenkins said. “I can’t believe this happened in the workplace.
“I feel that CPS didn’t care about my feelings or what I went through,” she said. “I know sometimes they have to do an investigation, but it took a long time. Patience is a virtue, I’ll say that.”
Judge Mary Marubio said she found it “unusual” that it took months for charges to be approved. Prosecutors confirmed Jones was facing a felony charge because the incident took place inside a public school and involved a school employee.
Jones is expected back in court on Sept. 2.
Jones himself filed a report to CPS officials the day of the incident, acknowledging he threw the bottle. But he attributed Jenkins’ injuries to “horseplay” and explained he and other workers were playing a “game of dodgeball” when she got hurt.
Jones wrote that the skeleton crew at Franklin for meal distribution during coronavirus school closures was “laughing and playing” and throwing a roll of paper towels back and forth. He described the object that eventually hit Jenkins as a “plastic kid cup.”
Jones’ report, however, laid out a more playful version of events than the police report filed in the case and accounts previously reported by the Sun-Times from the injured worker and her colleague who was a witness.
Notably, Jenkins, her fellow lunchroom worker and the police report all said the object that hit her in the face was a hard plastic water bottle, not a “plastic kid cup.” Jenkins and her coworker also said Jenkins told Jones she “wasn’t playing” before he allegedly threw the bottle.
“I never played dodgeball with Mr. Jones,” Jenkins said again Friday. “I never threw anything at Mr. Jones. Never even had a conversation with him pertaining to dodgeball. It’s all a lie.”
Jenkins said she’s still having minor headaches and blurred vision in her left eye, and has a scar on her face.
CPS’ investigative report also said Jones admitted throwing other items at the school, including food and chairs.