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New CPS CEO Can't Seem to Leave Rochester Fast Enough

By Chuck Sudo in News on Apr 21, 2011 2:08PM

Prospective CPS CEO Jean Claude Brizard (Image via Rochester City School District
Jean-Claude Brizard, Mayor-elect Emanuel's choice to head Chicago Public Schools, fielded questions in Rochester, NY yesterday about his decision to leave that city's school district for the challenges of handling the nation's third-largest public school system. Brizard tried to downplay the perception in Rochester that he's an opportunist and said he's leaving because he became a "lightning rod" for criticism.

“I'm not going to say I'm not ambitious. Everyone wants to be ambitious. I work hard. For me, it is about the work, not about money and certainly not about seeing what is next. I am not a serial superintendent,” Brizard said.

Nice to know.

Brizard signed a three-year contract with the Rochester Public School District with a $235,000 annual salary in January. After some media reports that indicated Brizard's leaving for another job may have been subject to a mutual agreement, Rochester's school board seems to be saying, "good riddance." School Board Member Van White told the Sun-Times he believes Brizard should cover the costs of searching for his successor instead of taxpayers. With Brizard leaving for Chicago on a fast train, details are now coming out regarding his handling of the Rochester schools that seem to conflict with the "reformer" message he and Emanuel are touting to the press.

A Sun-Times editorial notes that the graduation rate in Rochester's schools under Brizard has decreased from 52 percent in 2008 to 51 percent last year. Brizard's vote of no-confidence from Rochester's teachers union has also caught the collective eye of some in the Chicago Teachers Union who believe his hiring signals the beginning of an antagonistic relationship with Emanuel.

The Rochester school board held a separate press conference to say they hadn't heard from Brizard in a week leading up to Emanuel's announcement. There was also some speculation, started by board member Malik Evans, that Brizard announced his resignation to him via text message. Evans backed away from that statement yesterday and said he wished Brizard well.