CPS Aide Who Maintained VIP List Resigns

David Pickens' revealed existence of list Monday, says decision to resign was his own

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    NEWSLETTERS

    CPS
    A Chicago Public Schools aide resigned Friday, just days after it was revealed that a list existed of heavy-hitters who had sought help for applicants to selective schools.

    A Chicago Public Schools aide resigned Friday, just days after it was revealed that a list existed of heavy-hitters who had sought help for applicants to selective schools.

    David Pickens offered his resignation following stories in which he confirmed that he kept the logs at the request of then-schools chief Arne Duncan, who is now President Barack Obama's education secretary, the Chicago Tribune reported.

    Pickens said the decision to retire was his own and that he had been contemplating it for some time.  He said the year has been a difficult one since his former boss, School Board President Michael Scott, committed suicide last November.

    He said Monday that the list was created simply as a way to keep track of all of the calls the office received.  He said he acted as a "buffer" for principals by checking out the requests of those seeking admission for students into elite schools, according to the Chicago Sun-Times

    Pickens said principals were never pressured to accept a student, and in fact, many of the requests were denied.

    The Chicago Tribune reported Thursday that Patrick Daley Thompson, Mayor Richard Daley's nephew, is included on the list as having made a request on behalf of a longtime supporter of the family's political organization.  Those children were ultimately not admitted to their first-choice schools because of poor achievement scores.

    The mayor denies that his office had any involvement in the requests, but can empathize with why they're made.

    "People get frustrated," Daley said Friday.  "They don't know why.  So that's why you have to have a formal hearing with the principal, with everyone else, to explain that, 'I live right across the street.  I can't get my son or daughter into a school.  Tell me why.'  That's all they want to know.  Why.  Simple as that."

    The district's inspector general and federal authorities are investigating whether there was any bribery, corruption or fraud happening in conjunction with requests for admission to the elite schools, the Tribune explains.

    Last year, the newspaper's investigative reporting revealed that such practices were occurring at the University of Illinois.  After the revelations, Gov Pat Quinn appointed an independent Admissions Review Commission, which eventually recommended that all appointed board trustees resign.

    Pickens' last day with CPS will be April 30.