Ousted Principal Who Oversaw Controversial Merger Of Two Schools Reaches Settlement With CPS

The settlement comes as CPS is contending with lawsuits from other principals who charge they were wrongly dismissed.

WBEZ
Andrew Gill / WBEZ
WBEZ
Andrew Gill / WBEZ

Ousted Principal Who Oversaw Controversial Merger Of Two Schools Reaches Settlement With CPS

The settlement comes as CPS is contending with lawsuits from other principals who charge they were wrongly dismissed.

Chicago Public Schools agreed Tuesday to pay $80,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by a principal who was ousted two years ago while overseeing the controversial merger of a Gold Coast school serving mostly affluent white and Asian students with a low-income school of Black students nearby.

Only two months into the merger of Ogden and Jenner schools, Principal Michael Beyer was reassigned after an investigation by the CPS inspector general found he had falsified attendance records.

Beyer was then suspended without pay. He will resign Thursday.

Many parents were outraged that Beyer was removed, though there were some who were critical of him. The pro-Beyer parents said the charges against him were baseless and that the school district was undermining the highly unusual merger.

The settlement of the case comes as CPS is contending with lawsuits from other principals who charge they were wrongly dismissed, including from the former principal and assistant principal of Lincoln Park High School.

Beyer said he is disappointed that the school district doesn’t admit in the settlement that he was wrongly dismissed. But he hopes that school district officials learn from the ordeal.

“I think they should seek the facts and the truth instead of just relying on the inspector general,” said Beyer. Beyer contends that the impropriety identified by the inspector general was not to improve his school’s overall attendance, but rather a difference in policy interpretation.

Beyer does not have a “do not hire” label in his file, but agreed not to return to CPS for five year. He is now working as a real estate agent and for a nonprofit organization.

Lawyer William Quinlan, whose children attended Ogden, stepped up to defend Beyer. He said as a parent he hopes the school district will be more deliberate as it considers firing principals in the future.

“You have terrific people that guide schools and it is a shame to lose those people,” he said.

Quinlan said the case was settled just 10 days before a hearing officer was set to consider it.

After Beyer left Ogden-Jenner, it had an interim principal who left and now is on its second interim principal. The once overcrowded school has lost almost 400 students since the fall of 2018 when Beyer was dismissed. The biggest drop is in white students.

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