RYH Statement on CPS Request for Waiver to IL School Code Ethics Law to Hire New COO

Raise Your Hand attended and spoke at the unelected CPS Board of Education hearing this morning. Below is our statement given by Deb Hass, CPS parent and RYH board member.

The hearing was regarding a waiver that CPS is requesting from the IL State Board of Education (ISBE) to allow CPS to hire Arnie Rivera as Chief Operating Officer (COO) even though he just resigned from the CPS BOE.

From the hearing notice:

The purpose of said hearing will be to receive public comment on a proposed application to modify a portion of Section 34-21.3 of the School Code for a period of two school years (for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years) to allow a Board Member to be employed by the Board of Education no sooner than thirty (30) calendar days after the expiration or other termination of his term of office as a member of the board.

Sun-Times coverage of the issue from January 10, 2018.


RYH has no issue with Arnie Rivera as an individual. In my limited interactions with him, he has seemed honest and genuinely willing to listen and learn.


But asking to maneuver around the law and ethics policies to hire Mr. Rivera as Chief Operating Officer -- despite the fact that only days ago he was your fellow board member -- invites concern about possible conflict of interest. Today’s situation might be easier to accept if you had worried more about the public trust when you proclaimed the need for quick decisions in the past.


Unfortunately, examples of lapses abound:


  • The board’s willingness to approve the large no-bid contracts that enabled Barbara Byrd Bennett to hire her SUPES friends
  • Claypool’s avoidance of a waiver request to hire his friend Marmer
  • Hiring crony consultants and paying them $14M to cut special education
  • Multiple other vendor clout contracts


Just last month you bent the rules to give the Reverend John Hannah special time to speak at the board meeting before you approved his AIM -- New Life Charter School, then you delayed the meeting again to heap praise on Hannah in the middle of public comments. Dr. Hines, whose son will be involved in Hannah’s school, said without compunction that she’d vote yes for it with two hands if she could in flagrant violation of your own recusal policies.


That’s to open a new school that will cost almost $41M over the next five years when CPS is losing enrollment and most schools lack the librarians, social workers, nurses, and arts learning opportunities, and the special education services they need. No wonder we can’t trust you.


I bet the families at NTA wish they were your trusted friends right now, or the Englewood students — about 80 of whom are homeless — whose schools CPS plans to strip away.


We all wish you released facilities data on time and with accuracy as school communities wait with dread to see where your ax will land next. Instead many schools seem to have sprouted new rooms or had them disappear since 2015.

We’re not saying “Don’t hire Mr. Rivera.” We’re saying appointed boards fail at providing the transparent, accountable government we deserve.