Ogden International School principal sues CPS over removal
Loop North News

(Above) Ogden International School from intersection of North Dearborn & West Walton Streets.

Dr. Michael Beyer was let go as principal of Ogden International School in the Gold Coast over charges of falsifying attendance records, charges he says are unsubstantiated.

2-Dec-18 – A principal of a Chicago international school – seemingly popular with parents and others in the community – has filed a lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education – which oversees Chicago Public Schools – claiming it is trying to remove him on unsubstantiated charges.

According to the injunction filed on November 14 in Cook County Circuit Court, Dr. Michael Beyer, principal of Ogden International School since 2015, has an exemplary record – leading Ogden’s merger with the underutilized Jenner Academy of the Arts to relieve overcrowding, improving communication with parents, and tripling the number of teachers of color.

In August, “in recognition of Beyer’s good work,” the Local School Council responsible for Ogden voted to extend Beyer’s contract through the 2022 school year, the suit says.

Last June, according to the suit, the Inspector General of Chicago Board of Education issued a summary report finding that staff at Ogden’s elementary school at 24 West Walton Street and high school at 1250 West Erie Street had falsified attendance records of some students by recording them as having transferred.

Ogden International School of Chicago

On November 1, Chicago Public Schools sent Beyer (left) a letter notifying him he was being removed from his post and that CPS was thinking about terminating his employment. The letter said the actions were in response to Beyer’s violations of attendance recordkeeping policies, but no specific instances are mentioned, the lawsuit says, nor is the Inspector General’s report specifically referenced.

Beyer was also told CPS had scheduled a hearing that could result in him being suspended without pay until his pre-termination hearing.

Upon learning of Beyer’s removal, the Local School Council sent a letter to CPS, formally requesting his reinstatement. The LSC threw its support behind Beyer, unanimously approving a resolution praising him and calling into question the Inspector General’s findings.

Seven members of the LSC have joined Beyer in his lawsuit against CPS, and more than 900 people have signed a change.org petition supporting him.

Principal says CPS has not shared details or its evidence against him

Among the lawsuit’s chief complaints is the lack of specifics CPS has provided. Though Beyer has requested a copy of the rules governing the pre-suspension hearing and evidence that will be presented against him, he has received neither.

While he did receive a copy of the Inspector General’s report, Beyer says it is so heavily redacted that it is difficult to analyze. Nearly half of the report’s findings are completely redacted, says the complaint, as are the names and enrollment dates of all the students the report claims were improperly recorded as transferring.

“The Inspector General’s report gives no indication that he actually interviewed any of the students or parents alleged to have been involved in the purportedly falsified transfers,” the complaint claims. “Had he interviewed any members of the Ogden community, the Inspector General would have learned that, due to its highly international student body...Ogden has an unusually high number of students that transfer to foreign school districts or are homeschooled for a portion of the school year before returning to Ogden.”

This is what happened in the cases of the allegedly falsified records, claims the lawsuit. Even if it was not what happened, the suit argues, a minor recordkeeping infraction is not grounds to remove an otherwise successful principal.

Facebook post is real reason for dismissal, lawsuit claims

The lawsuit alleges Beyer’s removal is tied to a Facebook post he made in 2015, asking if any parents or members of the community would be available to come in on a weekend and clean up Ogden’s classrooms and bathrooms. He was reprimanded for the post and issued a warning that instructed him to avoid insubordination or taking a public stance that defies CPS.

Removing Beyer, says the lawsuit, is retaliation for the Facebook post and violates the Illinois Whistleblower Act.

Beyer is asking the court to find that the pre-suspension hearing does not provide due process and violates state law requiring the defendants to post the rules it will follow. Beyer also seeks a temporary restraining order that will allow him to remain in his post until the matter is decided, and he wants the warning expunged from his record.

In addition to the board of education, the lawsuit names as defendants Chicago Public Schools CEO Dr. Janice Jackson (right) and CPS Director of Employment Engagement Mary Ernesti.

Janice Jackson

 Previous story: Gold Coast elementary school principal dismissed over fudged attendance records

Dana Herra writes for Cook County Record, which is owned by U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.

By Dana Herra | Cook County Record | danaherra@gmail.com

Published 2-Dec-18 2:17 AM

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