CHICAGO (CBS) — A taxpayer funded Chicago school already under close watch by the district is struggling to retain teachers, and students are starting to jump ship, too. After a weeks-long CBS 2 investigation, CBS 2’s Lauren Victory got some answers out of the woman supposedly in charge.
“This has been a challenging year, so to speak,” said Dr. Cheryl Pruitt, CEO of Chicago Virtual Charter School since May 2018.
Pruitt inherited many of the school’s troubles. The mostly online public school is on financial and academic probation after poor performance in previous years.
“We got these about six weeks late,” Christina Nolan, a parent of currents students, said of some of the students’ books.
Parents called CBS 2 when more problems popped up.
“His whole math course was missing,” said Bridget Gawenda, a parent of a former student.
When asked about courses parents say were delayed until October, Pruitt said the curriculum was not delayed, pointing to emails sent to the students.
“This, right here, verifies that the curriculum wasn’t delayed,” she said. “In any type of new start-up, even with the historical curriculum, people have to get into the process and move forward.”
When asked about her 15 percent, or $26,000, salary bump to $176,000 when the school is already on financial probation, Pruitt said, “I didn’t get a large raise, and that’s something to be discussed with the board.”
She also deferred questions about the promotion of her director of strategy. Records show the school is on the hook when Angela Richardson-Bryant travels to and from work. She lives in Atlanta.
Victory asked Pruitt why no one could be found for the position in Chicago.
“I think that’s a question for the board,” Pruitt said. “I would much rather talk about how we’re moving forward.”
The school released the following statement regarding Richardson-Bryant’s position:
As for the future, Pruitt pointed to Thursday night’s strategic planning meeting, showed teacher development happening Friday, and spoke about the importance of community input.
Victory also asked Pruitt about a letter sent home to parents regarding CBS 2’s investigation, which stated the school might have a town hall meeting.
Pruitt responded, “That’s something that the board is looking at.”
Pruitt directed Victory to the board 16 times in their interview.
The chair wrote back Friday saying the school is in the best financial position ever and once again defending the expenses associated with its Atlanta-based director.