The Chicago Teachers Union and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration are clashing once again over looming Chicago Public School closures and what the CTU calls a "proliferation" of charter schools in the city.
Potentially adding to new fuel to the fire: a damning "secret document" obtained exclusively by the Chicago Tribune that shows the mayor's administration has been harboring detailed school closing plans for some time, despite repeated denials that any such document exists.
When HuffPost explicitly asked various CPS officials about the closure document previously, they all denied its existence as well.
Addressing the board Wednesday, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett maintained that, despite the reports, "there is no list of schools that we intend to close," according to CPS spokeswoman Rebecca Carroll.
"I don’t care what’s been floated around in the past – as I’m sure there have been a lot of ideas floated around in the past," Byrd-Bennett reportedly said. "But we are living here in the present and today I’m the CEO. I will make and I will own the decisions around how we need to approach right sizing this district."
The internal CPS document, which reportedly showed plans for targeting as many as 95 schools for closure or consolidation dating back as far as September, comes to light right as the school board is set to OK five new charter schools in a meeting Wednesday. Meanwhile, ABC Chicago says applications for at least five other charters are expected to be denied for not meeting district standards.
CTU members and their allies protested the charter expansion Tuesday night outside of CPS' Clark St. headquarters, reports Fox Chicago. The union has charged the district with rushing to shutter neighborhood schools due to CPS claims of "underutilization" while at the same time green-lighting the opening of privately-run charters.
Westinghouse College Prep teacher and CTU member Brandon Johnson told DNAinfo Chicago at the 80-person protest Tuesday, "These fat cats have pushed for still more expansion of charter schools. ... At the same time, they want our schools closed because we don't have enough students. That doesn't make sense."
Earlier this month, the CTU released a video condemning city officials as "fat cats" scheming to privatize public education. Carroll described the video as one of many "mean-spirited tactics" the union is using against the school system.
Joy Resmovits contributed to this report.
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