CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools leaders were in the hot seat Monday night, trying to explain to the Lincoln Park High School community why its principal and assistant principal were fired.
CPS had said “serious misconduct” had warranted the removal of the two administrators. Meanwhile, the boys’ basketball team’s season has been scrapped.
CBS 2’s Jermont Terry attended the meeting at the school, 2001 N. Orchard St., where the district revealed multiple sexual misconduct allegations at the school.
Parents came looking for answers, and CPS did provide details into why the principal and vice principal were let go.
CPS said there were four separate investigations under way.
The investigators center around:
• Sexual misconduct, where administrators failed to follow reporting mandates;
• Retaliation, against witnesses and those filing complaints;
• Interference, in which CPS accused school leaders of withholding evidence, and;
• Misconduct where students were not protected.
CPS leaders told parents that the sexual allegations involved both claims of adults with students and students with other students.
An official said, “Some of our students were harmed physically, socially, and emotionally.”
The Athletics Department’s failures included dishonesty toward families, athletic recruitment violations, and financial misconduct, according to a source close to the Chicago Public Schools investigation. Administrative failures are also much wider than first reported and included retaliation against complaints, school leaders interfering with the investigation, and withholding of evidence, the source said.
On Monday night, the auditorium at the school was filled to capacity as parents, students, and even teachers looked for a better understanding into why Principal John Thuet and Assistant Principal Michelle Brumfield were removed from their positions.
“He’s good. He’s kind. He’s moral,” longtime Lincoln Park English teacher Dawn Glunz said of Thuet.
Glunz does not believe CPS thought about the interests of entire school when they fired Thuet and Brumfield.
“I don’t know if these people, who I highly regard and respect, have done something awful, or if they’re being treated badly,” she said.
CPS said the first complaint came Jan. 2, with an unauthorized boys’ varsity basketball team overnight trip to Detroit.
During Christmas week at the Motor City Roundball Classic in the Detroit suburb of Mount Clemens, Michigan, the team won two of their three games.
A week after the Detroit trip, the school’s principal said the “overnight trip over winter break… was not a school-sponsored event.
An investigation followed, and last Friday, Thuet and Brumfield were removed from their positions.
The basketball coach and dean of the school were also reassigned, and as the school put it, “the remainder of the varsity boys’ basketball season has been suspended until further notice.”
But that was not the only complaint. While looking into the trip, CPS on Jan. 7 found more serious violations and failure to ensure student safety.
By Jan. 13, CPS said it had found greater systemic policy violations by adults.
The following day, there was a new and separate complaint of sexual misconduct, and on Jan. 16, CPS had learned of retaliation against students by other students.
By Jan. 17, the inspector general had received a new complaint involving sexual misconduct with the girls’ basketball team.
Yet despite what the district presented, many in the room felt CPS was not forthcoming with facts.
One mother, referring to the firing of the administrators and likely referencing the recent capture of a coyote that bit a boy in Lincoln Park last month, said, “We heard more about a f***ing coyote than this.”
Thunderous cheers followed her remark.
— Jermont Terry (@JermontTerry) February 4, 2020
Earlier Monday, students walked out of the school in protest.
They carried signs calling for the reinstatement of the principal and assistant principal, and many took issue with the basketball season being cut short.
“We went there to play basketball. We had a tournament. We did very well there. We went two-and-three,” a protesting Lincoln Park basketball player said Monday. “We’re going down the drain. All our hard work is for nothing.”
One student athlete claimed to CBS 2’s Chris Tye that all that happened on the trip was that one of his teammates stayed up too late playing video games.
“Down in Detroit, one of our players got suspended for two games down there, because they were up so late till like 1:30 for playing a video game,” said Lincoln Park basketball player Ismail Habib, “and our coaches caught them playing a video game.”
Habib started a petition to get school leaders and his season back. The Chicago Public Schools’ lack of clarity is muddying scholarship opportunities for players on the 13th best team in the state.
“I feel like it’s either somebody hating on our team because this is the first year we are actually doing good,” he said. “As a team, as a program — we haven’t had success like this in years, years.”
Despite school administrators saying the boys’ basketball season would be cut short, Lincoln Park Assistant basketball coach Anthony Ott said he doesn’t see a reason why the team can‘t play their next game anyway.
“None of our players are currently part of an investigations. None of them have been suspended from school,” he said. “So it doesn’t make sense why they can’t play in their basketball game tomorrow.”
The Lincoln Park Lions’ next game listed on their schedule is Tuesday night against the Joslin Wolves.
Meanwhile back at the Monday night meeting, CPS leaders said the firing of the principal and assistant principal were not reversible.
CBS 2’s Chris Tye contributed to this report.