Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - Fol­low the Edi­to­rial Board on Twit­ter: @ cste­d­i­to­ri­als. Send let­ters to let­ters@ sun­times. com. Clar­i­fi­ca­tion: An edi­to­rial that ap­peared in Thurs­day’s paper also should have re­ferred to Ralph Northam as Vir­ginia’s lieu­tenant gov­er­nor.

The job of the Chicago Board of Ed­u­ca­tion in­spec­tor gen­eral is to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions of fraud and fi­nan­cial mis­man­age­ment in city schools.

It’s not sur­pris­ing then that the boss of Chicago Pub­lic Schools, CEO For­rest Clay­pool, usu­ally doesn’t like what he hears from the in­spec­tor gen­eral. It’s in­her­ent to the process. Re­ports from the in­spec­tor should make a boss un­happy but, bet­ter yet, ea­ger to right wrongs.

Clay­pool, un­for­tu­nately, is fight­ing back against In­spec­tor Gen­eral Ni­cholas Schuler in­stead of seek­ing a col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ship to fig­ure out how to im­prove the al­ter­na­tive high school at Cook County Jail. Chicago can’t have a war be­tween its CEO of schools and in­spec­tor gen­eral when they share a com­mon goal: to make sure Chicago’s young peo­ple get an ed­u­ca­tion.

In Septem­ber, the in­spec­tor went pub­lic with a re­port that was crit­i­cal of Prin­ci­pal Shar­nette Sims of York High School, the al­ter­na­tive school at Cook County Jail. He rec­om­mended she be fired for rea­sons of fal­si­fied at­ten­dance records and class cred­its. One of the more dis­turb­ing rev­e­la­tions was that a stu­dent was recorded as be­ing in classes even af­ter he had been re­leased from jail and had died. Cook County Sher­iff Tom Dart barred the prin­ci­pal from the school a day af­ter the in­spec­tor re­leased the re­port.

CPS launched its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion and, in re­port­ing its find­ings Thurs­day, cleared the prin­ci­pal of wrong­do­ing and gave her the OK to go back to work. The school district said the in­spec­tor’s find­ings were “un­sub­stan­ti­ated and un­founded.”

With­out a doubt, the re­port by CPS shows the dif­fi­culty of teach­ing teenagers and young adults at the jail. The pop­u­la­tion there is tran­sient and in­mates are troubled. But we’re not con­vinced the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­port should be dis­missed. It raised valid points, even if its ul­ti­mate con­clu­sion — that the prin­ci­pal should be fired — was not a find­ing shared by CPS.

For in­stance, Schuler’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion found, and CPS does not dis­pute, that dis­turb­ing in­ci­dents that could put teach­ers in dan­ger were not be­ing re­ported of­ten enough to CPS. That in­cluded as­saults, stu­dents mas­tur­bat­ing in class and stu­dents be­ing drunk af­ter mak­ing their own booze.

In its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the school district found prob­lems with tak­ing at­ten­dance that need to be reme­died, though it didn’t fault the prin­ci­pal.

CPS ac­cused the in­spec­tor gen­eral of a last- minute data dump re­gard­ing stu­dent at­ten­dance, en­roll­ment and credit in­for­ma­tion that led to er­rors. The district al- leges that more than 60 per­cent of “fal­si­fied” data found by the in­spec­tor gen­eral was not fal­si­fied.

There was also a “racial el­e­ment” to the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion, CPS al­leges. The district’s re­port says the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s staff in­ter­viewed mostly white teach­ers even though the staff is mostly African- Amer­i­can. Schuler says race played no part in his work.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors for the school district paint a pic­ture that sug­gests the in­spec­tor gen­eral ex­ag­ger­ated the “pres­sure” felt by teach­ers to is­sue cred­its to stu­dents.

We can’t be sure who’s in the right. But we wouldn’t be stuck with such a fuzzy pic­ture if Clay­pool’s staff had col­lab­o­rated bet­ter with Schuler’s staff to iron out dif­fer­ences in method­ol­ogy. Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion could have been re­quested to ad­dress con­tra­dic­tory tes­ti­mony.

It’s clear to us, too, that a sec­ond and separate in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Schuler is not sit­ting well with Clay­pool and his team. Schuler found that the district vi­o­lated ethics rules by al­low­ing gen­eral coun­sel Ron­ald Marmer to su­per­vise work be­ing done by his for­mer law firm, which was pay­ing him a seven- fig­ure sev­er­ance pack­age. Schuler ac­cused Clay­pool of be­ing in­volved in an “ap­par­ent white­wash at­tempt” of the vi­o­la­tion.

We can only won­der whether CPS ripped the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s study of the jail school to di­min­ish the IG’s cred­i­bil­ity, or sim­ply as pay­back.

We see a trou­bling pat­tern with the school district un­der Clay­pool. Of­fi­cials work hard to dis­credit charges of im­pro­pri­ety — whether they in­volve spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum or ethics vi­o­la­tions — when the greater focus should be on fix­ing things.

In the pub­lic schools, there is plenty to fix.

Ni­cholas Schuler For­rest Clay­pool

A stu­dent pre­pares materials in the art class­room at Con­suella B. York Al­ter­na­tive High School within the Cook County Jail in Jan­uary 2016. ASH­LEE REZIN/ SUN- TIMES

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