In a shock transfer, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot changed a faculty board member with a longtime Metropolis Corridor ally.

Lightfoot introduced Friday that former North Lawndale alderman Michael Scott Jr. would exchange Dwayne Truss, whose time period ended final month.

Truss stated he had initially been requested to proceed to serve on the board, then was notified final Thursday that he wouldn’t be reappointed. He questioned the timing of the transfer, noting that it comes after he referred to as for extra transparency across the development of a brand new highschool.

“I’m dissatisfied,” Truss stated. “College students and households that we serve deserve actual engagement and transparency.”

Lightfoot additionally appointed two different new members Friday to switch Luisiana Meléndez and Lucino Sotelo, who introduced final month they’d be stepping away from the board. The newly appointed members are Sulema Medrano Novak, a trial lawyer, and Paige Ponder, a former CPS worker and former CEO of One Million Levels, an schooling group.

Truss stated the opposition to the highschool and the mayor’s choice to not reappoint him to the board appear related.

Together with different board members, Truss expressed considerations throughout finances hearings and final month’s board assembly a few lack of group engagement and transparency for a proposed $120 million highschool on the Close to South Facet, which was supported by the mayor. The opposition led district CEO Pedro Martinez to tug the plan forward of a vote throughout June’s board assembly.

Truss stated the district was “gaslighting” board members and making an attempt to “shoehorn engagement” across the proposed highschool into a short while body earlier than a possible vote.

As a substitute of organizing true group engagement, Truss stated, CPS was “organizing supporters to assist the varsity. CPS shouldn’t be doing that.”

Requested concerning the timing of the alternative, a spokesperson for the mayor in an e mail stated Truss’s time period had expired “and we want him properly.”

The appointments come after Lightfoot dragged her toes for 10 months on a earlier college board emptiness, appointing South Facet group chief Joyce Chapman. It additionally marks what may very well be the mayor’s final spherical of appointments below a fully-appointed college board.

In 2024, Chicago will start a shift towards an elected college board, which can have 10 elected members and 11 appointed by the mayor. The board will transition to a completely elected college board by 2027, with elections held in 2026.

Different board members stated they have been shocked by the information that Truss wouldn’t be returning to the board.

In a short cellphone name, Scott Jr. advised Chalkbeat he was unavailable to talk Friday afternoon.

Scott Jr.’s father, Michael Scott Sr., was president of the Chicago Board of Training below Mayor Richard M. Daley from 2001 till his dying in 2009. Throughout Scott Sr.’s time on the board, former U.S. Secretary of Training Arne Duncan served as CEO.  

Scott Jr. resigned as alderman in Might to take a place with the movie studio, Cinespace. Lightfoot appointed Scott Jr.’s sister, Monique, to succeed him in representing the North Lawndale group on the West Facet. Lightfoot defended the transfer citing Monique Scott’s roots within the North Lawndale group and stated it’s “lazy” of critics to name the appointment nepotism.

In a ready assertion, Scott Jr. stated he was “honored and humbled to tackle this new function with the Board of Training and serve college students, households and workers of Chicago Public Colleges.” 

“That is a rare alternative to construct on my father’s legacy with CPS and the continued drive to enhance and increase scholar alternatives, experiences and outcomes,” Scott stated. 

Ponder beforehand served as an Officer of Pupil and Assist and Engagement at CPS. Throughout her tenure at CPS, she led initiatives to drive up the variety of freshman college students on observe to graduate. Ponder serves on the Illinois Neighborhood School Board. Her time period expires in June 2023. 

“Turning into a member of such a historic board is not only an honor however a privilege,” Ponder stated. “For years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with establishments which have ready me for this function and I’m excited to assist and discover new methods to characterize our faculty communities.”

Novak, a trial lawyer with Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, will step down from the Metropolis’s Human Useful resource Board to serve on the varsity board.

Mauricio Peña is a reporter for Chalkbeat Chicago, overlaying Ok-12 faculties. Contact Mauricio at mpena@chalkbeat.org.



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