Jean Claude Brizard no longer CPS chief, by mutual decision - FOX 32 News Chicago

CPS CEO Brizard out, replaced by Barbara Byrd-Bennett

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX Chicago News confirmed that Jean Claude Brizard will no longer be the CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

Last month, the public heard rumblings that Brizard would no longer head one of the largest school districts in the nation. In response to those reports, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was confident in the chief's performance.

As recently as Sept. 19, shortly after the strike ended, Emanuel said: "J.C. has my confidence." A spokeswoman for Emanuel said the mayor did not blame Brizard for the contentious contract negotiations that led to the strike.

SEE: CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard denies rumors about resignation

But in light of the first Chicago Teachers Union strike in over 25 years, some remained skeptical. Looks like they were headed in the right direction.

Emanuel chose Brizard for the job 17 months ago. But he has now told the Chicago Sun-Times that it's "time for a clean break," and the decision was made over a few different conversations.

"I am proud of the results we achieved in such a short time and I leave this role with great sadness," Brizard said in a statement about his departure.

The mayor said the distraction Brizard caused took attention away from the progress they wanted to make in the district. He told the Sun-Times that Brizard told him "getting the schools right is more important than me."

Emanuel had hoped Brizard would be the man to push through his education agenda, but it seems he and Emanuel agreed that he is not the best person to implement the new contract, which ended the teachers' strike.

Emanuel said Brizard was very understanding and appreciated the idea that at a certain point in time, leadership needs to change for progress to be made.

During September's teachers' strike, Brizard said he went to Emanuel and the school board after hearing rumors the mayor wasn't happy. Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said Brizard told Emanuel the job was more important than him and he didn't want to be a distraction from the mission of serving the children.

"I have to tell you it's a little bit of melancholy and mixed emotions because I've come to love the people who work in CPS,"' Brizard told the Chicago Tribune. "I love to work with kids. ... That's more important to me than keeping a job. This is stressful, but at the same time it's about the city."

Sources of FOX Chicago's Robin Robinson said the mayor needs someone with a more aggressive style to implement his education agenda.

The mayor did recognize the amount of change Brizard was able to accomplish while leading CPS. The longer school day is one of those achievements. Improved high school test scores and a better graduation rate are two more accomplishments.

Brizard will be permanently replaced by Barbara Byrd-Bennett, 62. She previously lead the Cleveland school district, is a former principal and teacher. She will now serve more than 400,000 public school students in Chicago.

The Sun-Times reports Byrd-Bennett played an important role in contract negotiations during the teachers' strike, and out-shined Brizard during those talks.

"Barbara is the right person to pick up the baton and take it to the next level," Emanuel said."She brings a level of passion to the mission of education and excellence."

A City Hall source to the Sun-Times that Byrd-Bennett connected with CTU President Karen Lewis during strike talks, and was sometimes the only person Lewis would talk to during negotiations. The source said she will be the right fit for CPS.

Brizard received a $250,000 salary while he was the Public Schools CEO in Chicago. Before taking the job, the son of Haitian immigrants led the Rochester, N.Y. school system. Before that he was a New York City physics teacher.

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