CHICAGO (CBS) — The Chicago School Board met behind closed doors Wednesday evening, considering an investigative report that accuses Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool of orchestrating a conflict of interest cover-up.
And CBS 2’s Political Reporter Derrick Blakley reports that there may soon be calls for him to resign.
CPS Inspector General Nicholas Schuler alleges that the system’s top attorney, Ronald Marmer, violated the CPS ethics code, and that his close friend, Claypool, tried to cover up the violation.
Marmer, a former lawyer at Jenner & Block LLP, supervised a $250,000 CPS contract with the international law firm. At the same time, he was still receiving severance pay from them.
According to Schuler, six attorneys — four at CPS and two from outside firms — told school officials Marmer was violating the ethics code by supervising Jenner & Block’s work.
Only after CPS went to a seventh lawyer did Claypool get an opinion supporting Marmer, which came from J. Timothy Eaton, a lawyer who has donated to Claypool’s political campaigns.
Claypool contends there was no ethics violation because Jenner & Block eventually agreed to work for free, and Marmer’s severance didn’t depend on bringing business to the law firm.
In a November letter, Claypool wrote, “I strongly believe there was no ethics violation.”
Leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union have called for Claypool’s firing due to these ethical shortcomings.
Mayor Emanuel defended Claypool and cautioned against making “snap judgments” about the longtime public servant.
“Forrest made a mistake. There’s no question about that, and I take that very seriously. But he was also big enough to stand up, admit his mistake, and publicly apologize for it,” Emanuel said in a prepared statement.