CPS Policies Show a Specific Process Must Be Followed to Offer Internships and Credit
With so many unanswered questions still lingering regarding Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s school email scandal, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas is zeroing in on one of the most troubling: Did Mayor Lightfoot’s campaign have a secret agreement with Chicago Public Schools to provide credit for students participating in her “externship” program, or did she lie to students and teachers and not actually have any plan in place to offer credit?
“There are only two real possibilities here: either Mayor Lightfoot followed CPS’ procedures to establish an outside internship program — which involved paperwork and direct conversations with school administrators, both of which the Mayor has denied — or there was actually no plan to give class credit and her campaign simply lied to our students and teachers,” said Vallas. “The fact that Mayor Lightfoot still has not answered these kinds of basic questions shows the same lack of public accountability in all areas of governing that has made our city less safe, less prosperous and less functional over the past four years. Chicago needs a Mayor who will be accountable to the people and who will work to regain their trust in government, and that is not Lori Lightfoot.”
According to district records, in order for students to receive class credit for completing work-based learning at CPS, a number of steps must be taken before, during, and upon completion of the internship. The first step in the process is for a Work Based Learning Coordinator, employed by CPS, to conduct a site visit and complete a document that outlines the structure of the internship. The Work Based Learning Coordinator must meet directly with the internship supervisor, as outlined on the Work Based Learning Website. It is unclear at this time if any of these actions were taken by the Lightfoot campaign.
Mayor Lightfoot’s school email scandal has drawn widespread criticism from across the political spectrum, with the ACLU of Illinois saying that the Mayor’s actions may have violated federal law by infringing on public employees’ first amendment rights. The CPS Inspector General’s Office has opened an investigation into the incident and the city’s Ethics Board will discuss the scandal at its next meeting.
The question remains, did Mayor Lightfoot go through the proper channels and have her ‘externship’ program approved, or did she deliberately lie to students and CPS teachers about the possibility for students to earn class credits? Only Mayor Lightfoot can tell us.