CHICAGO — Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard stepped down Thursday after a little more than a year in the post, a spokeswoman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Brizard's departure comes weeks after the school district endured its first strike by teachers in 25 years.

Emanuel named Brizard to the post 17 months ago. Brizard previously held a similar position in the Rochester, N.Y., public schools. He is being replaced with Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a former teacher, principal and Cleveland schools CEO who has been filling in as Chicago's interim chief education officer.

Emanuel said Thursday the decision for a change was made during "two to three separate conversations" in recent days.

Talk of Brizard's possible departure had been circulating for several weeks. On Sept. 19, shortly after the strike ended, Emanuel said: "J.C. has my confidence."

Emanuel said Thursday the questions about Brizard became a distraction from what had to be done to improve Chicago schools.

"We had a mutual agreement (that the distraction was) not helpful. . I didn't have to come to that conclusion myself," he said. "We both agreed together. It kept on becoming about the static and noise about J.C."

Brizard said he went to Emanuel and the school board after hearing rumors the mayor wasn't happy. Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said Brizard told Emanuel the job was bigger than him and he didn't want to be a distraction from the mission of serving the children.

"I have to tell you it's a little bit of melancholy and mixed emotions because I've come to love the people who work in CPS,'" Brizard told the Chicago Tribune. "I love to work with kids. ... That's more important to me than keeping a job. This is stressful, but at the same time it's about the city."

Stephanie Gadlin of the Chicago Teachers Union called Brizard's departure "shocking, crazy news."

"The children deserve stability at the top. This is more chaos," Gadlin said. "Either the mayor is going to be the CEO or he has to put educators in charge of the school district."

Teachers walked off the job Sept. 10, idling 350,000 students in the nation's third-largest school district for seven days before the union's delegates agreed to suspend the strike and return to classes. They later approved a new contract, which includes 3 percent raises in its first year and 2 percent for two years after that, along with increases for experienced teachers. There also is an option of another 3 percent raise if teachers agree to a fourth year of the contract.

The school district also agreed to reduce the percentage of teachers' evaluations based on test scores, down from a proposed 45 percent to the 30 percent set as the minimum by state law. It also includes an appeals process to contest evaluations.

Brizard played no obvious role in the contract negotiations. That job was taken by Byrd-Bennett.

Hamilton said the strike had nothing to do with Brizard's departure.

Brizard, a native of Haiti who worked for more than two decades in New York City schools before taking the helm in Rochester in 2008, was introduced April 18, 2011, as Emanuel's choice as Chicago schools CEO, which have more than 400,000 students.

Brizard replaced interim schools chief Terry Mazany, who then-Mayor Richard M. Daley named to the post. Mazany took over after the previous schools chief, Ron Huberman, resigned from the $230,000-a-year job.

While Brizard got high marks on the education side and understanding policy, he has been criticized for his management style.

According to published reports, his annual evaluation gave him low marks for the way he communicates and runs the district. However, school board President David Vitale commended Brizard for his work during the year.

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    Leslie Sabbs-Kizer, right, walks her children Nkai Melton, 8, Akaira Melton, 7, and Khaymya Smith, 3 to Bond Elementary school in Chicago, for the first day of classes Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy , Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012 in Chicago, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Two students hug, right, as they gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students walk through the gates outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy, Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Students gather outside Benjamin E. Mays Academy Wednesday morning, Sept. 19, 2012, after Chicago teachers voted to suspend their first strike in 25 years. Union delegates voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to suspend the walkout after discussing a proposed contract settlement with the nation's third largest school district. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Rahm Emanuel, Jean-Claud Brizard, David Vitale

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, center, is flanked by Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claud Brizard, left, and school board president David Vitale during a news conference after the teachers union House of Delegates voted to suspend their strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union smiles as she talks with reporters after the union's House of Delegates voted to suspend the strike Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Members of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates celebrate after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Tennille Evans

    Tennille Evans, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, celebrates after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Mary Edmonds

    Mary Edmonds, a member of the Chicago Teachers Union's House of Delegates, celebrates after the delegates voted to suspend the strike against the school district Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, in Chicago. The city's teachers agreed to return to the classroom after more than a week on the picket lines, ending a spiteful stalemate with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that put teacher evaluations and job security at the center of a national debate about the future of public education. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Teachers picket outside Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, as a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union continues into its second week. CTU members in the nation's third-largest city will pore over the details of a contract settlement Tuesday as the clock ticks down to an afternoon meeting in which they are expected to vote on ending a seven-day strike that has kept 350,000 students out of class. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Patty Westcott

    Teacher Patty Westcott pickets outside Clissold Elementary School in Chicago, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, as a strike by the Chicago Teachers Union continues into its second week. CTU members in the nation's third-largest city will pore over the details of a contract settlement Tuesday as the clock ticks down to an afternoon meeting in which they are expected to vote on ending a seven-day strike that has kept 350,000 students out of class. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2012, file photo Madison teachers hold a unity rally for striking Chicago teachers at the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison, Wis. Wisconsin's attorney general planned to ask a judge Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012, to put on hold his decision issued last week repealing major parts of Gov. Scott Walker's law effectively ending collective bargaining for most state workers. The request comes as school districts and local governments attempt to understand the ramifications of the decision and whether it opens the door to new negotiations previously barred with unions. (AP Photo/Wisconsin State Journal, M.P. King, File)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Tyler Whitaker watches from a distance as teachers from the Jose De Diego Community Academy, where he is a third grade student, walk the picket line on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Smaller, more subdued groups of teachers picket outside Morgan Park High School in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, as a strike by Chicago Teachers Union members heads into its second week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will seek a court order to force the city's teachers back into the classroom. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers attend a press conference by The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in City Hall on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers attend a press conference by The Chicago Teachers Solidarity Campaign outside the office of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in City Hall on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • A handful of teachers picket outside Shoop Elementary School in Chicago, Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, as a strike by Chicago Teachers Union members heads into its second week. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will seek a court order to force the city's teachers back into the classroom. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

  • Chicago Teacher's Strike Enters Second Week

    CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 17: Striking Chicago public school teachers picket outside of George Westinghouse College Prep high school on September 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Karen Lewis, Jesse Sharkey

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  • A young boy holds a placard in support of striking Chicago school teachers as they march after a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 in west Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Striking Chicago school teachers march after a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012 in Chicago. Thousands of striking Chicago public school teachers and their allies packed a city park Saturday in a boisterous show of force as union leaders and the district tried to work out the details of an agreement that could end a week-long walkout.(AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A young girl plays a toy horn as striking Chicago teachers rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Union president Karen Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they still are on strike. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union addresses the crowd during a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they are still on strike. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union addresses union menbers during a rally Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Chicago. Lewis reminded that although there is a "framework" for an end to their strike, they still are on strike. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Karen Lewis

    Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago teachers union , left, and vice president Jesse Sharkey stand before a meeting of the union's House of Delegates Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Karen Lewis

    Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis arrives for a meeting of the union's delegates Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in Chicago. The city's nearly weeklong teachers strike appeared headed toward a resolution Friday after negotiators emerged from marathon talks to say they had achieved a "framework" that could end the walkout in time for students to return to class Monday. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • David Vitale

    Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale speaks to reporters following negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 in Chicago. After a week of public school teachers striking over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations, Vitale said the district and teachers union have agreed on a

  • Public school teachers rally at Chicago's Congress Plaza to protest against billionaire Hyatt Hotel mogul Penny Pritzker, who is also a member of the Chicago Board of Education on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Protesters said that $5.2 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds being used to build a new Hyatt hotel in Hyde Park would be better spent on meeting basic student needs. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A large crowd of public school teachers rally at Chicago's Congress Plaza to protest against billionaire Hyatt Hotel mogul Penny Pritzker, who is also a member of the Chicago Board of Education on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. Protesters said that $5.2 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds being used to build a new Hyatt hotel in Hyde Park would be better spent on meeting basic student needs. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters rally following a march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Teachers picket outside the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Striking Chicago public school teachers and their supporters rally before a march down Michigan Avenue on September 13, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off the job on September 10 after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters rally outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel to protest against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from being a board member of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Children in strollers join thousands of public school teachers rallying outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel, protesting against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Two-year-old identical twins Colton and Lucas Jordan join thousands of public school teachers and their supporters as they march along Chicago's Michigan Avenue, protesting against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Thousands of public school teachers and their supporters rally outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel to protest against Penny Pritzker, whom they accuse of benefiting from her position on the boards of both the Chicago Board of Education and Hyatt Hotels on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 in Chicago. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • Teachers and their supporters rally in downtown Chicago on day four of the strike Thursday, Sept. 13.

  • A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A large group of public school teachers rally at John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A family waves at a large group of public school teachers as they march on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Chicago public school student Natalia Segal joins the picket line outside of Marshall High School on September 12, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. More than 26,000 teachers and support staff walked off of their jobs on Monday after the Chicago Teachers Union failed to reach an agreement with the city on compensation, benefits and job security. With about 350,000 students, the Chicago school district is the third largest in the United States. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

  • A large group of public school teachers marches past John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • A young boy in a cart is pulled along by his mother at the tail of a group of public school teachers marching on streets surrounding John Marshall Metropolitan High School on Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 in West Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)

  • Thousands of public school teachers rally for the second consecutive day outside the Chicago Board of Education district headquarters on Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012 in Chicago. Teachers walked off the job Monday for the first time in 25 years over issues that include pay raises, classroom conditions, job security and teacher evaluations. (AP Photo/Sitthixay Ditthavong)