Lincoln Park High

Ousted high school administrators sue Chicago district

Feb. 26, 2020
Interim principal and assistant principal at Lincoln Park High were removed from their jobs last month.

Administrators fired last month from a Chicago high school have filed a federal lawsuit against the city’s school district, arguing that they were deprived of due process, defamed and suffered emotional distress.

NBC Chicago reports that John Thuet, interim principal at Lincoln Park High School  and Michelle Brumfield, assistant principal, were fired Jan. 31 amid several investigations into alleged misconduct and the handling of those allegations.

In the face of a demand by parents of students for more information, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) disclosed that the investigations involved claims of sexual misconduct, improper student discipline and retaliation against witnesses.

[EARLIER: Students at Chicago high school walk out in protest of administrators' removal]

Thuet and Brumfield contend the school district’s comments have led to false assumptions about them and gave them little chance to defend themselves outside court.

“CPS publicly disseminated unfounded, false statements accusing plaintiffs of causing ‘life-altering harm’ to students and ‘endanger(ing) victims,' falsely conveying that plaintiffs had participated in and acted to conceal serious acts of misconduct at Lincoln Park High School,” the complaint states. “These statements are false, and defendants knew they were false.”

Since their firing, Thuet and Brumfield say, they have hit brick walls in their job searches. In their lawsuit, Thuet and Brumfield are asking the court to reverse their placement on the school district's ``do not hire” list and are seeking damages.

Brumfield was hired by the Chicago district in 1995, and Thuet has worked for the district for more than 10 years. Documents obtained through a public records request show neither has faced disciplinary action by the school system. Lincoln’s local council voted unanimously in August to offer Thuet a one-year interim principal position, replacing a person who was promoted. Thuet hired Brumfield to be assistant principal.

Thuet said he was in a state of shock when he was fired. Brunfield said she left the meeting in which they were fired "in a daze.” Their firing prompted student walkouts, social media campaigns and letters to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and CPS administrators. A parent action group has raised money to offset their legal fees.

The district declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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