Rahm Emanuel's pick for Chicago School Superintendent said Wednesday he didn't intend to leave Rochester schools when he signed a three-year contract last year.
“I'm a reformer and I make no apologies for it," Jean-Claude Brizard said during his first Rochester news conference since announcing his resignation as the city's School Superintendent, NBC affiliate WHEC reports.
Brizard signed the Rochester contract worth $235,000 a year in November. On Monday, Emanuel announced him as Chicago's next schools chief.
"His leadership put Rochester on the right path," Emanuel said. "J.C. has also made politically difficult decisions to put the children of Rochester first."
One Rochester school board member told WHEC on Wednesday she thinks Brizard used Rochester to enhance his resume and that he wasn't there for the children.
Leading up to Emanuel's Monday announcement, Rochester school board members reportedly hadn't been able to reach Brizard. Other reports said Brizard resigned his post via a text message to School Board President Malik Evans.
Brizard disputed the text rumors on Wednesday. He said he's leaving a good team in place and that he has come to love the city and its generosity.
Emanuel reacted to Brizard's news conference, saying, "I chose someone to shake up the status quo, because the status quo is not working."
"What I will not settle for is what we have in Chicago," Emanuel said.
Though Brizard wouldn't give himself a grade for his time spent as superintendent, he said he was a fantastic fit for Rochester.
But some in Rochester are disputing his Brizard's claims that the graduation rate there has improved from 39 percent to 50 percent.
The Chicago Teachers Union isn't exactly rolling out the welcome mat for Brizard, and those who have wrangled with him in Rochester call him "dictatorial" and "difficult."
Brizard, however, deflects the criticism.
"We argue behind closed doors. It's what we do as a team. Once we go out we have a united front," he said.
WHEC reports the Rochester school board will have a special meeting next Wednesday to start the process of finding an interim superintendent.
At least one school board member there would like to penalize him for breaking his three-year deal. Some estimate the seach for his successor could cost $100,000.