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Schools CEO Pick Locked In Contract In Rochester

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Jean-Claude Brizard

Jean-Claude Brizard is set to take over as chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Is new Chicago Public School chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard coming to Chicago, or not?

Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel announced Brizard as his pick for head of the schools on Monday. But CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reported Monday afternoon that Brizard is still under contract with the school board in Rochester, N.Y.

Brizard just signed a three-year contract in February, and the board voted late Monday to refuse to let him out of his contract.

The new deal in Rochester is supposed to pay Brizard $235,000 per year.

The contract reportedly allows Brizard to leave his job in Rochester only if both sides agreed. Late Monday evening, the board met and voted not to let him out of the contract without a negotiation.

That could mean that Brizard will have to pay the board to get out of his contract.

“I understand why he would want to go to a larger state, but the same time, I think there is unfinished business here in Rochester,” said Rochester school board president Malik Evans.

In announcing his pick of CPS chief, Emanuel stressed that, while Brizard was his choice to run the schools, it was up to the new school board he also appointed Monday to actually hire Brizard and negotiate a contract.

This was why a letter from Brizard to Rochester’s School Board President on Monday said only, “I will resign from my position as Superintendent by the end of this school year.”

Brizard was already in Chicago when that letter was delivered, sending the Rochester School Board into executive session to figure out whether or not to enforce terms of a new 3-year contract signed just two months ago.

Parents on Monday said they would like to see Brizard enact reforms in the schools.

“I would love to see the school day lengthened. Right now the six-hour day is just way too short and the teachers complain that they don’t have enough time to teach the children all that they need,” said William Baske, a parent of a student at Socorro Sandoval Elementary School on the Southwest Side.

Irma Molina said she wanted to know what Emanuel would do about school security.

“We have a problem, issue with gangs early, at 7 and 8, 9 years old. They get them from elementary and then they start … to sell the drugs,” she said.

In the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, a former teacher weighed in with ways to help teachers.

“I think it’s important to allow them the freedom in the classroom to do what they’re paid to do,” Kimberly Goodrule said. “And also to have a little bit more responsibility put onto the parents. I think they do a lot of babysitting in the public schools.”

“In my opinion, there is no greater calling than to the field of education. We have the power to change the lives and trajectories of young people,” Brizard said Monday. “I am honored and thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the students and families of this wonderful city. My family and I look forward to calling Chicago home.”

Emanuel also named a new Chicago School Board Monday.

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