CPS Principal Leading Controversial School Merger Removed | WBEZ
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CPS Principal Leading Controversial School Merger Removed

Chicago Public Schools has abruptly removed the principal of Ogden International School, a Gold Coast school that is part of a controversial school merger.

In a letter to parents on Thursday, Chicago Public Schools officials said Ogden Principal Michael Beyer was “reassigned” effective immediately. CPS officials confirmed that dismissal proceedings for Beyer have begun. Beyer, who is not working elsewhere in CPS now, declined comment when reached by WBEZ.

The action followed an inspector general report that found Beyer had falsified attendance record and recommended his termination. The report was issued in late June, but the school district kept Beyer in place until the school settled into its new structure, said CPS spokesman Michael Passman.

In September, Ogden, a racially-mixed school serving some of the city’s wealthiest students, was combined with Jenner, a school near the former Cabrini-Green public housing development whose students were mostly black and low income.

Beyer and the principal of Jenner proposed the integration plan several years ago and worked to make it happen. Jenner’s principal died last spring.

Merging two schools with such different populations has rarely been done in Chicago, and many are watching to see if it is successful.  

CPS’ Passman said in a statement that officials agreed with the inspector general that Beyer should be fired.

“CPS holds its school leaders to high standards for professional conduct and integrity,” Passman said. The school district has appointed an acting principal.

Beyer is the second principal since CPS CEO Janice Jackson took the helm in January that has been removed after the inspector general found records were falsified. Prior to Jackson’s tenure, the inspector general uncovered several instances of falsifying records and rarely were the principals fired.

In this case, the inspector general’s office found that Beyer would unenroll students who were absent. This was done to avoid having to mark them absent, according to the inspector general. A school’s attendance rate is one factor that determines a school’s rating.

Two members of the Ogden-Jenner Steering Committee, Rev. Randall Blakely and Rabbi Seth Limmer, released a statement Thursday night calling Beyer a “smart, sensitive and courageous leader who assisted one of the most meaningful school mergers of our time.”

They went on to say they did not have enough information to “second guess” the inspector general’s findings and will continue to work to support the school.    

Parents from Ogden were invited to a meeting Monday evening to discuss the situation.

Sarah Karp covers education for WBEZ. Follow her on Twitter at @WBEZeducation and @sskedreporter.

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