On Thursday – Chicago Public Schools announced on Thursday that the district has reinstated a principal who was formerly accused of falsifying student data at a high school that was run at a county jail after an investigation found the accusations unproven. Back in September, the top dog for the nation’s third-largest school district recommended Principal Sharnette Sims of York Alternative High School – to be firedC.
The Inspector General Nicholas Schuler alleged in a seven-page report that the school at Cook County Jail regularly granted attendance as well as course credit to students who had left the jail or had been moved to solitary confinement. Sims was also removed from the school and Sherrif Tom Dart banned her from entering the jail.
However, school and city officials alleged in their own investigation that there were errors in the initial report and said the inspector general didn’t visit the school or interview Sims’ supervisors. District officials said they reviewed years of emails, conducted dozens of interviews and checked data before concluding Schuler’s accusations were “unsubstantiated and unfounded.”
“Principal Sims is owed our thanks for her efforts at York, as well as a sincere apology for the blight on her reputation,” said district CEO Forrest Claypool in a statement. “Dr. Sims has devoted herself to helping young people at risk and has done remarkable work under difficult circumstances.”
Schuler said he stands by his report and was continuing to review the Chicago officials’ investigation. But he disputed the claims in Thursday’s report, adding that releasing a “public report attacking an investigation” by his office was unprecedented. According to district officials, the inspector general accused school officials of falsifying district scores it doesn’t receive as well as made wrong conclusions about how students earn credits.
Chicago officials also alleged a “racial element” to the investigation, saying that while 70 percent of the school’s teaching staff are African-American – much like Sims – eight of the 11 interviewed are white and one is Asian. Of the two African-American teachers interviewed, one was critical of Sims or York. Schuler said his office did visit the school and 15 members of the school’s staff were interviewed.Sims was expected to return to school Thursday.