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Chicago schools chief out after run-ins with Mayor Rahm Emanuel

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In an interview with the Chicago Tribune Friday, Brizard suggested that his management style did not fit well with City Hall. “I call it a marriage that was perhaps imperfect. My style and personality is maybe not what the mayor wants. I have felt he is not comfortable with me,” he said.

Media accounts suggest Emanuel was critical of Brizard’s management decisions involving key hires within the system, and as mounting news stories made that displeasure public, it became clear Brizard was a liability.

“The questions about J.C. became a distraction from what we had to do. We had a mutual agreement [that the distraction was] not helpful.… It kept on becoming about the static and noise about J.C. He said, ‘Look, getting the schools right is more important than me,’ ” the mayor told the Chicago Sun-Times Friday.

Steve Tozer, an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and director of the university’s program in urban education leadership, says the political machinations of having the school system controlled by City Hall has its strengths, but tends to make it difficult for school administrators in top leadership roles.

“The consequence of that [structure] is the extent, to which such an individual can lead,” Professor Tozer says, adding that a schools chief “is more constrained by the mayor’s agenda than … by a school board agenda. With a school board, there is a shared shaping of that agenda…. The political stakes are so much higher with a mayor who must inevitably seek reelection.”

Brizard is the fifth CEO of CPS since the system went under City Hall control in 1995. Besides former interim CEO Terry Mazany, who served in the administrative transition between former Mayor Richard M. Daley and Emanuel, Brizard’s term was the shortest. The longest CEO to serve was Arne Duncan, who is now secretary of Education under President Obama.

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