Chicago Principals & Administrators Association

DistrictCommunications

Communications with CPS

Regarding Principal Voice in Policymaking

Now that our report, Principal Voice in CPS/CTU Bargaining, has been published and is having an impact, we want to ensure that everyone knows that the first step we took before commissioning the report was to contact CPS directly and give them an opportunity to respond to our concerns. Our President’s communications with the district are below. It was only after the CEO failed to respond to three different requests that President LaRaviere took additional steps to ensure a more complete representation of our voices made its way into the public conversation about the district’s bargaining with its teachers.

Hopefully, experiencing the consequences of our report will help CPS understand why they should respond and engage in the future. That is certainly what we would prefer. It is not CPAA’s desire to maintain an adversarial relationship, but when the district failed to respond to us, we could not just sit around hoping for the best. We have to take action to get our voices out there, and that's what was done.

Our outreach to the district before taking action is chronicled below.


9/13/2019

Email to CEO

Before surveying school leaders about the prep time issue, CPAA President, Troy LaRaviere, gave CPS CEO Janice Jackson an opportunity to provide the names of the principals who attended bargaining sessions with CTU. LaRaviere’s message to Jackson was as follows:

From: Troy LaRaviere <tlaraviere@mycpaa.com>
Date: Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 8:33 AM
Subject: Principals on Bargaining Team
To: Janice Jackson <JKJackson@cps.edu>

Dr. Jackson
You were quoted in the Sun-Times as stating there are principals on CPS's bargaining team. I am requesting that you provide CPAA with the names of these principals. I am also requesting you share with us the process through which these particular principals were selected.

Respectfully,
Troy LaRaviere, President

This was a straightforward non-adversarial request for information.

CEO RESPONSE: Did not respond


9/13/2019

Freedom of Information Request

President LaRaviere submitted the following Freedom of Information Act (FIOA) request to CPS.

CPS CEO Janice Jackson was quoted in the 9/11/2019 Sun-Times as stating there are principals on CPS's bargaining team. I am requesting that you provide CPAA with the names of these principals.

CPS RESPONSE: See below.

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center <cps@mycusthelp.net>
Date: Fri, Sep 13, 2019 at 9:39 AM
Subject: Non-Commercial FOIA Request :: N007321-091319
To: tlaraviere@mycpaa.com <tlaraviere@mycpaa.com>

Dear Troy:
RE: Chicago Public Schools FOIA Request N007321-091319 Thank you again for using the Chicago Public Schools FOIA Center.

Under the Freedom of Information Act, a public body may extend the time to respond to a FOIA request by up to 5 business days for a limited number of reasons. 5 ILCS 140/3(e). We are extending the time to respond to your request by 5 business days for one or more of the following reason(s):

(x) the request for records cannot be complied with by the public body within the time limits prescribed by 5 ILCS 140/3 (c) without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the public body;


Sincerely,

Annie Righi
FOIA Officer
Chicago Public Schools


9/16/2019

Email to CEO:
Opportunity #2

After receiving no response from the CEO, and a delay from the FOIA Office, President LaRaviere gave the CEO a second opportunity to respond.

From: Troy LaRaviere <tlaraviere@mycpaa.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 7:01 AM
Subject: Principals on Bargaining Team: Attempt #2
To: Janice Jackson <JKJackson@cps.edu>

Dr. Jackson,
You were quoted in the September 11, 2019 Sun-Times as stating there are principals on CPS's bargaining team. On Friday I requested that you provide CPAA with the names of these principals. You did not respond. I, therefore, submitted a FOIA for the names and received a response from the district that they need to take an additional week--on top of the statutory week--to furnish names that should have taken ten minutes to supply. I am requesting once again that you supply the names of the principals you referred to when you spoke to the Sun-Times.

Respectfully,

Troy LaRaviere, President

CEO RESPONSE: Did not respond.


9/23/2019

Email to CEO:
Opportunity #3

From: Troy LaRaviere <tlaraviere@mycpaa.com>
Date: Mon, Sep 23, 2019 at 6:00 AM
Subject: Request - Principals on CPS's Bargaining Team: Attempt #3
To: Janice Jackson <JKJackson@cps.edu>

Dr. Jackson,

A Request for Public Information

This is CPAA's third attempt to get a straightforward answer to a simple question. On September 11, 2019 the Chicago Sun-Times quoted you as stating that principals were on CPS's bargaining team. More than a week ago, I requested that you provide CPAA with the names of these principals. To date, you have not responded. You also did not respond to a second request I sent on September 16, 2019.

A Refusal and/or Unjustified Delay

In that September 16th email, I informed you that I submitted a FOIA for the names of the principals you eluded to, and received a response from the district that they need to take an additional week--on top of the statutory week--to furnish these names. That's two weeks to provide information that should have taken two minutes to supply.

Sidestepping Representative Principal Voice

If true, your quote in the Sun-Times demonstrates that--despite Mayor Lightfoot's word that CPS would have the elected representatives of CPS's school leaders at the table, you continue to side-step those elected representatives in favor of handpicked people who do not represent the voices of a majority of principals.

Misleading the Press, the Public, and the Board of Education

According to a survey done just last week, a supermajority of principals are opposed to the district's prep-time contract demands. This tells us that the district did not consult principals in any meaningful way before making this demand in their names. It also tells us that district officials are willing to mislead stakeholders about the perspectives of a majority of school leaders. We will share our results with the district as soon as our survey report is finalized, but the district should have executed a survey of its own before making demands in our names.

CPAA requested the names of the principals on the bargaining team for one reason: to verify that your statement is accurate--that principals actually are on the bargaining team. Your refusal to even respond to the request for the names of these principals--and the district's inexplicable delay in providing the names--might lead some to believe that there are no principals at the table and that your statements to the press--as well as similar statements to the Board of Education--were either misleading or a fabrication made up to justify a contract demand that was otherwise unjustifiable (You did indeed state to the Sun-Times that you mentioned the principals to give "gravitas" to the district's contract demands). The release of the names would go a long way toward disproving this belief.

Principal Deserve Better

CPS principals deserve a real representative voice and input in policymaking and in negotiations where the outcome will impact their work. They also deserve district leadership that is honest about their representative attitudes and beliefs when it comes to district policy. To date, unfortunately, they have neither.

Respectfully,

Troy LaRaviere, President

CEO RESPONSE: Did not respond.


9/25/2019

CEO Responds

One September 24th—after nearly two weeks of non-responsiveness from the district, CPAA released the report: Principal Voice in CPS/CTU Bargaining. The day after this report was released, the CEO finally released the names of the principals she claimed were on the bargaining team. In the letter that accompanied the names, Jackson stated that she took so long to respond because her office, “took the time to personally notify each [principal] of CPAA’s request.” President LaRaviere reached out to all the principals who were listed as being a part of the bargaining team and spoke with several of them. So far, all of the principals LaRaviere talked to told him they were never contacted about the request.

Those conversations also led to the following findings:

  • Each principal attended only one bargaining session.

  • The district’s prep time proposal had already been finalized and presented to CTU before these principals arrived at the table.

  • The principals were asked by CPS to give anecdotes or examples to CTU members about how they use prep time in order to support the district’s proposal.

  • Some disagreed with the district’s proposal but did not voice that disagreement at the bargaining table.


One might argue that these principals were not on the bargaining team because each one only attended one bargaining session or because the district’s proposal was already determined before they arrived. While this might be true, it misses a more important point. That point is that there are other important criteria that must be met before making claims about what school leaders want:

  1. The group must be representative. That is, school leaders--not the district--must have an opportunity to choose the group members.

  2. There must be a process for the group members to get feedback from the principals and assistant principals they represent.

  3. The group’s input must be given in an environment in which group members can be confident there will be no retaliation for giving critical feedback.

  4. The group must include assistant principals as well as principals.

The only institution that satisfies these criteria is the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA). CPS has the right to form these groups, and school leaders have the right to participate in them. However, district officials do not have the right to make claims in our names unless the criteria described above are satisfied.