CHICAGO (CBS) — The festering sore between City Hall and the Chicago Teachers Union burst open into a nasty wound Friday as the CTU president accused Mayor Emanuel of getting in her face and yelling at her during a recent meeting to discuss longer school days.
Karen Lewis says Emanuel, who has been pushing for extended class time, pointed his finger in her face, shouted and used profanity. The claims surfaced as the CTU filed an unfair labor practice lawsuit against the Chicago Public Schools system, which has convinced teachers at five schools to break ranks and vote for a longer school day.
Lewis says Emanuel went off on her when she suggested his plan would merely “warehouse” students longer to keep them out of trouble.
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“He got up and started screaming at me,” Lewis told CBS 2’s Kristyn Hartman Friday. “It was extremely disrespectful. Let me just say my father has never spoken to me that way, my husband doesn’t speak to me that way. I’ve never, ever been disrespected like that.”
She declined to elaborate about what kind of salty language Emanuel used. The former congressman and White House chief of staff was once well known for expletive-laden tirades.
Emanuel said he would not get into a “he-said, she-said” debate in the media about what transpired during his hour-long meeting with Lewis. He said he and Lewis talked about extending the school day and compensating teachers and that the two parted ways amicably.
“We had a very good conversation, which was the basis of the proposal,” the mayor said. “To tell you the truth, she hugged me at the end of the meeting.”
Lewis agreed the meeting ended on a friendly note.
“I was trying to move forward,” she said.
CPS announced Friday that another school, William H. Brown Elementary, 54 N. Hermitage Ave., will extend classes. Seventy percent of teachers OK’d the move, the school system announced.
“Teachers at Brown today are embracing a longer day as a means to help close these gaps and boost their students’ academic success in the classroom,” Emanuel said in a joint statement with school officials Friday. “We hope that more parents, teachers and principals will continue to discuss how a longer day can help schools make the most of every school day.”
Lewis, the CTU president, has said officials are trying to implement longer school days without proper planning.