Emanuel Taps Claypool to Lead Chicago Public schools


Forrest Claypool, current chief of staff to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has been selected by the mayor to run the city’s school district. Claypool, who is a longtime friend of Emanuel’s, will succeed Barbra Byrd-Bennett in leading the nation’s third-largest school district, reports Tonya Francisco and Charles Hayes for WGNTV.

The position was left open after Byrd-Bennett resigned amid a federal probe over a $20 million no-bid contract. The vacancy was temporarily filled by Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz in April.

Claypool is no stranger to being called in to clean up troubled agencies. He has been utilized this way both by Emanuel and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, writes Hal Dardick and Juan Perez Jr. for the Chicago Tribune.

Forrest Claypool was first tapped by Emanuel four years ago to head the CTA. Before that he served on the Cook County Board and successfully ran against county Assessor Joe Berrios in 2010.

“I’ve known Forrest Claypool for 35 years. He has an unparalleled record of reform, accountability and leadership in city and county government,” Emanuel said in late April. “That’s why one of the first calls I made during my transition in 2011 was to Forrest to ask him to lead the CTA. He is a world-class manager, and under him the CTA has never been run better.”

According to Ted Cox of DNA Info, the Chicago Teachers Union has not responded well to Claypool’s selection.

“Claypool is a political ‘fixer’ and longtime mayoral insider who represents another non-education, business-style manager of our schools. Mayoral control has given us 20 years of businessmen running CPS, going back to Paul Vallas, and look where it’s gotten us. This appointment suggests that the mayor will look to cut even more from neighborhood schools, when what we need is a return to an education-centered approach,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.

Emanuel says that he is “writing the next chapter of the story” for Chicago Public Schools. In addition to announcing Claypool as the new CEO of CPS, Emanuel announced that Frank Clark, a former ComEd executive, will serve as the new chairman of the CPS board of directors. Clark will be replacing David Vitale, writes Tnja Babich for ABC7 News.

Another CPS swap will include Janice Jackson, who is currently a network schools chief and was a former principal for CPS. She will be put in a newly created position as Chief Education Officer.

The mayor has not announced who will replace Claypool as his chief of staff.