Chicago Park District CEO Mike Kelly resigns amid sexual harassment scandal

Chicago News

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CHICAGO — Chicago Park District CEO and Superintendent Michael P. Kelly announced his resignation Saturday evening amid a controversy over sexual harassment and abuse.

Kelly released the following statement to the public and Board President Avis LaVelle Saturday evening:

“President LaVelle,

Please accept this correspondence as my official letter of resignation, effective immediately, from my position as General Superintendent and CEO. It has been an honor to steward this extraordinary organization for the past ten years. It has also been an honor to serve Chicagoans as a public servant for the past 27 years. I have always had the best interests of our patrons and our employees at heart.”

Earlier Saturday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot called for Kelly’s resignation in a statement after a board of commissioners meeting concluded without a decision on Kelly’s future.

“Yesterday, I attended a pre-scheduled emergency meeting of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners. In that meeting, I urged the Board to remove from office the General Superintendent and CEO of the Park District, Mike Kelly, for cause. 

The Chicago Park District provides thousands of Chicago residents with high quality programming every single day. Families trust the Park District with their precious children. They have a right to expect that their children will be safe and protected. Also, Park District employees deserve leadership who share their closely held values, namely, protecting our children against predators and bullies, and believing survivors of sexual abuse. Furthermore, in my administration, being a City or sister agency employee means you will have a safe workplace to show up to serve residents every day. As long as I am the Mayor of this city, survivors will be believed, abusers will be held accountable, and institutional culture will be changed to minimize any opportunity for harm to occur.

The culture of sexual abuse, harassment, and coercion that has become pervasive within the district’s Aquatics Department lifeguard program under his leadership, combined with the superintendent’s lack of urgency or accountability as new facts have come to light, is unacceptable. I look forward to the board’s swift and decisive action regarding this matter in order to ensure that the Chicago Park District remains a world-class parks system of which every Chicagoan can be proud,” a statement from Lightfoot said.

The move also comes days after the resignation of a park district pool supervisor following abuse accusations, with Aldermen Scott Waguespack and Michele Smith releasing a statement calling for Kelly’s resignation then.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Kelly is under contract through the end of 2022 and makes an annual salary of $230,000.

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