Weather Updates

Emanuel's political consultant apologizes to principals association chief

8-25-10 Clarice Berry head CPS principal's associatianswers reporter's questions Wednesday's school board meeting. phoby Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

8-25-10 Clarice Berry, head of the CPS principal's association answers reporter's questions at Wednesday's school board meeting. photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

storyidforme: 66423428
tmspicid: 23709645
fileheaderid: 11609768

Updated: June 17, 2014 2:34PM

Mayor Rahm Emanuel dressed down his longtime political consultant Thursday — then ordered John Kupper to apologize for referring to Chicago Principals and Administrators Association President Clarice Berry as a “shill” for the Chicago Teachers Union.

“I regret my reckless remark and offer Dr. Berry my public apology,” Kupper wrote in an email to the Sun-Times.

In a separate emailed statement, Sarah Hamilton, the mayor’s communications director, wrote: “Mayor Emanuel does not agree with what John Kupper said nor the sentiment behind it, and he believes personal insults have no place in public debate. Clarice Berry has been a dedicated teacher, principal, and advocate on behalf of children, and serves our city well.”

Earlier in the day, Berry demanded Emanuel order Kupper apologize.

“I want the mayor to direct his employee to make a public apology to me and to my members, whom he insulted in public,” Berry said. “He should work on the political side — not the education side. We want the politics out of our job.”

Berry accused Kupper of “engaging in the same kind of intimidation and repression of principals” that her organization and its members have been complaining about for the last week.

The back-and-forth between Berry and Kupper was sparked by an uprising among Chicago Public Schools principals complaining of intimidation, budget cuts and unfunded mandates. It was touched off by Blaine Elementary School Principal Troy LaRaviere’s op-ed in Saturday’s Chicago Sun-Times. At least four other principals have come forward by name to second LaRaviere’s complaints.

Earlier this week, Kupper sent an email to the Sun-Times in response to a follow-up story.

“First, this guy got a full page in the Sun-Times on Saturday. Now, a story as well? When does he get a column?” Kupper wrote. He chastised the newspaper for quoting “at most, four disgruntled principals” without mentioning more than 600 CPS principals have been given more authority by Emanuel.

The Sun-Times noted Berry had argued that LaRaviere “may have opened the floodgates” among those who feel the same way about intimidation, budget cuts and unfunded mandates.

To that, Kupper wrote, “Clarice Berry is not representative of all principals. She’s a CTU shill.”

Like LaRaviere, Berry held Emanuel responsible for stifling dissent among principals.

“The mayor is at the top of the system. If he takes credit for accomplishments, he’s responsible for the problems,” Berry said.


Twitter: @fspielman

© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit To order a reprint of this article, click here.