Chicago Sun-Times


Has apart­ment in city, but kids go to school in La Grange Park, CPS says

- BY LAU­REN FITZ­PATRICK, Chicago · Belgium · La Grange · Austria · Chicago Transit Authority · Belarus · Iceland · Thailand · La Grange Park, IL · La Grange · Chicago Transit Authority · Highland Park · Rogers Park · College of the University of Chicago · Berwyn · Andrew Jackson · City Colleges of Chicago

The Chicago Pub­lic Schools’ fa­cil­i­ties chief — one of schools CEO For­rest Claypool’s hires from the city agency he for­merly headed — has re­signed from his $ 165,000 post amid res­i­dency ques­tions.

Ja­son R. Kierna, 30, has headed Claypool’s lead test­ing and mit­i­ga­tion ef­forts in schools, and also has been in­volved in the on­go­ing move to pri­va­tize the man­age­ment of all school build­ings.

Kierna, who gave no­tice Wed­nes­day, did not re­turn mes­sages seek­ing com­ment. His last day on the job will be Fri­day, Feb. 3.

Since Fe­bru­ary 2015, he and his wife have owned a home in La Grange Park. He was al­lowed to live there, rather than in the city, at his pre­vi­ous job, with the Chicago Tran­sit Au­thor­ity, where he also worked for Claypool. But he was sup­posed to move to the city within six months of be­ing hired by CPS in Jan­uary 2016, un­der the school sys­tem’s res­i­dency re­quire­ment.

His cur­rent driver’s li­cense and car reg­is­tra­tion and his wife’s driver’s li­cense show two North Side ad­dresses where they for­merly lived. His wife’s cur­rent car reg­is­tra­tion shows the La Grange Park ad­dress. That’s also the ad­dress where the cou­ple’s prop­er­ty­tax bill is mailed.

Kierna pays $ 800 a month for an apart­ment on the Far North­west Side, ac­cord­ing to a lease and copies of rent checks pro­vided by a CPS spokes­woman, though his fam­ily has re­mained in La Grange Park.

The Chicago Board of Ed­u­ca­tion at times has ap­proved “spe­cial needs” waivers of the res­i­dency rule, but Kierna didn’t ap­ply for one.

In Au­gust 2015, it gave a two- year waiver to Ron­ald DeNard, Claypool’s $ 225,000- a- year se­nior vice pres­i­dent of fi­nance, who owns a home in Floss­moor. That came over the ob­jec­tion of In­spec­tor Gen­eral Ni­cholas Schuler, who said the res­i­dency waiver might raise con­cerns “of pref­er­en­tial treat­ment for fa­vored in­sid­ers.”

“As it has done in the past, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion can grant a waiver for a limited pe­riod of time to al­low a can­di­date from out­side Chicago to be­gin work­ing for the district,“a dis- trict­tit spokesmank said idatt th the time.ti

Ac­cord­ing to CPS’ res­i­dency pol­icy: “The ques­tion of an em­ployee’s res­i­dence is prin­ci­pally one of where em­ployee in­tends to live and have his or her one true, per­ma­nent home or domi­cile to which an em­ployee in­tends to re­turn fol­low­ing an ab­sence. In dis­puted cases, the bur­den of proof rests with the em­ployee.”

The pol­icy says de­ter­min­ing res­i­dency “shall con­sider, but not be limited to, the fol­low­ing fac­tors: voter reg­is­tra­tion, place of fil­ing tax re­turns, prop­erty own­er­ship, driver’s li­cense and car reg­is­tra­tion.”

CPS has re­cently tough­ened its pol­icy for stu­dents found to have fal­si­fied home ad­dresses to gain an ad­van­tage in se­lec­tive- school ad­mis­sion, ban­ning them for life from all test- in schools.

In De­cem­ber, Schuler’s of­fice put out a re­port de­tail­ing cases of stu­dents booted out of schools and staffers fired and tagged with a “do not hire” des­ig­na­tion that will pre­vent them from re­turn­ing to work for CPS.

One case tar­geted a High­land Park fam­ily who rented a stu­dio apart­ment in Rogers Park so their two kids could go to North­side Col­lege Prep. An­other in­volved a Ber­wyn fam­ily whose daugh­ter at­tended the pop­u­lar An­drew Jack­son Ele­men­tary School — and said they were rent­ing an apart­ment in a Chicago build­ing be­long­ing to a fam­ily mem­ber in time for their son to ap­ply to se­lec­tive high schools. All of these chil­dren were re­moved from CPS schools and both fam­i­lies hit with five- digit tu­ition bills. CPS also sent word of the Ber­wyn par­ents’ res­i­dency is­sue to their em­ployer, the City Col­leges of Chicago, which, like the pub­lic schools sys­tem, re­quires work­ers to live in the city.

 ??  ?? Ja­son Kierna | SUN- TIMES FILES
Ja­son Kierna | SUN- TIMES FILES

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