Ousted CPS principal Troy Laraviere speaks out on ‘corrupt administration’

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CHICAGO -- Ousted Blaine Elementary school principal Troy Laraviere is criticizing Mayor Emanuel and the city's educational policies.

After weeks in the headlines Troy Laraviere sat down for his first interview with WGN News.

Laraviere says he found out about his removal after receiving a hand delivered letter.  The letter outlined the dismissal charges against Laraviere  and said he had engaged in "conduct unbecoming" of a Chicago Public School principle and accused him of “dereliction of duties" and "insubordination."

“They’re very vague, intentionally vague, so you can fill in your own blank,” he said.  “They didn’t get specific, but we’re talking about a teacher not completing a student field trip form correctly.”

A CPS spokeswoman said in a statement, “Those charges set forth the basis for CPS’s decision to remove him as a principal.”

Laraviere, who was a popular and successful principal, was told he had to stay away from all CPS schools.

Meanwhile, at Blaine Elementary there was an outpouring of support from parents and students.

“It was overwhelming,” Laraviere said. “I saw it on television that day. Actually after all the news cameras left that night, I left my place and I went up to Blaine because I saw all those signs that people had made for me and I thought if they took the time to make the signs I should go and read them.”

District officials had refused to explain the decision, saying it was a personnel matter, but Laraviere says they made a statement with their actions.

“They came in, they changed the locks on the doors and forced everybody to turn their keys in.  That’s a psychological maneuver,” he said. “That’s something you do when prosecutors want to prejudice a jury against a defendant.  You walk him in in chains with security guards to make it look like this person in dangerous.”

Laraviere has been an outspoken critic of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.  He says he feels compelled to speak out against what he views as a “corrupt administration.”

Laraviere supported Chuy Garcia, the mayor’s opponent in last election and he criticized the mayor in a campaign commercial for Bernie Sanders.  That is being investigated by CPS as a possible violation of the district’s policy on political activity.

He was formally warned by the school board.

“You have to think about who you work for. The people who are above this are managers. We work for the citizens, the residents of Chicago. That’s who we work for, so who is our duty to? The mayor for example, the mayor’s not our boss. We elected him. We’re his boss.”

Laraviere believes he was removed because of his opposition to the mayor.  Emanuel denied this in a recent interview saying, “All personnel decisions are handled by the department and the policies and practices that are in place.”

A school district spokeswoman said a hearing officer had not issued a recommendation on the case, so right now, Laraviere remains suspended .  He’s running to lead the Principals Association, a post that would allow him to influence Chicago’s policy-making decisions.