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Stories by Matt Masterson

CPS Board Approves Janice Jackson As New CEO

Janice Jackson was officially appointed Wednesday as the new CEO of Chicago Public Schools. But one of her first decisions is already drawing ethics concerns.

Charter Advocate Blasts Proposed CTU-ChiACTS Merger on Eve of Final Vote

The president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools is again speaking out against a proposed merger between the CTU and the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, which could be finalized next week.

Feds Seeking Death Penalty Against Man Accused in U. of I. Student Death

Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

In a five-page filing Friday afternoon, U.S. Attorney John Childress says a “sentence of death is justified” against Brendt Christiansen if he is convicted in the death of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang.

CPS Releases Space Utilization Data After Yearlong Gap

Find out how the space is being used at your school

Nearly 230 Chicago Public Schools are underutilized, according to new district data. That’s nearly equal to the number of schools the district says are operating efficiently.

Englewood High School Plan Proving to Be Tough Sell for Some Residents

A rendering of the proposed 1,200-student Englewood high school building. (Chicago Public Schools)

Chicago Public Schools’ plan to build a new $85 million high school in Englewood, and shutter four existing schools, is proving to be a hard sell for several area residents.

ISBE Doubles Budget Request, Seeks $15B to Fund Evidence-Based Model

State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Jan. 11.

Approving a new evidence-based funding model for public education last year was the first step in improving Illinois’ long-broken formula. Now the state has to find a way to pay for it.

Defense Seeks Dismissal, New Venue in Case of Missing U. of I. Student

Potential capital case scheduled for trial next month

Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff's Department)

Attorneys for Brendt Christensen have filed new motions challenging the federal jurisdiction over the potential capital case and seeking to have the top count thrown out.

CPS Adding 65 New Special Education Positions Amid Calls for Reform

As Chicago Public Schools faces a state-led public inquiry into its special education practices, it announces dozens of new positions to bolster its diverse learning supports at more than 50 schools across the city.

Namaste Charter Staff Move to Unionize

(Namaste Charter School / Facebook)

Staf at the McKinley Park-area charter school filed their intent to unionize on Tuesday with the National Labor Relations Board.

Janice Jackson Picks Board of Education Member for CPS Leadership Team

Board member Arnie Rivera has been chosen as Chicago Public Schools’ new chief operating officer, but a tweak to the district’s school code is needed before he can take over.

Murder Charges Tossed for Chicago Man After More Than 2 Decades in Prison

Thomas Sierra, center, exits the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Tuesday. (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

Thomas Sierra, 41, spent more than half his life in prison, convicted of a murder he has claimed from the beginning he didn’t commit. On Tuesday, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped the charges. “It’s a bittersweet situation,” Sierra said.

CTU Calls for School Investments, Not Closures, in Letter to Mayor

Union claims schools closings may violate labor contract

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said Monday that proposed school closings may violate its labor agreement with CPS. (Chicago Tonight)

As CPS presses ahead with plans to open a new, state-of-the-art high school in Englewood, the Chicago Teachers Union is stepping up its campaign against the most controversial part of that plan.

Englewood High School Plan Moves Forward, CPS Releases Renderings

A new rendering released Friday of the proposed 1,200-student Englewood high school building. (Chicago Public Schools)

Chicago Public Schools is moving ahead with its plan to shutter four Englewood-area high schools in favor of what it says will be a new “state-of-the-art” neighborhood option with an $85 million price tag.

Police: Suburban Woman Charged in Facebook Live Shooting

(Chicago Police Department)

Labritney Austin, of University Park, is facing a felony charge after she allegedly shot a woman in the shoulder in an incident that was recorded by the victim.

Palatine Man Reported Missing Now Charged in Chicago Bank Robberies

Surveillance footage shows the suspect in three Chicago bank robberies. Authorities believe that man is Matthew Silberman. (FBI)

A 27-year-old suburban man who had been reported missing now faces criminal charges after federal officials say he used bomb threats and a gun to rob three Chicago banks in three days last month.

Cubs Fan Sues Team, Claims Wrigley Renovations Violate ADA

A wheelchair-bound Cubs fan claims the team removed handicap-accessible seating in the right field bleachers during its $750 million renovation project.

CPS Watchdog Highlights Gift Card Fraud in Annual Report

Staff at a Chicago high school reportedly spent nearly $3,200 in school gift cards on wedding favors, meals and casino purchases. That’s one of several investigations included in a newly released annual report from CPS’ watchdog.

CPS Acting CEO: Improving Parent Engagement ‘A Top Priority’

(Chicago Public Schools)

Chicago Public Schools’ new leader Janice Jackson announces plans to hold community meetings throughout the city this spring in the hopes of sparking an open dialogue about the district’s biggest needs.

Cook County Adds to Lawsuits Against Opioid Manufacturers

(The Javorac / Flickr)

Cook County officials filed lawsuits this week against a half dozen drug companies and their subsidiaries, blaming them for aggressively marketing prescription painkillers that have led to a spike in overdose deaths.

Friday Marks Deadline for ‘GoCPS’ High School Applications

Chicago Public Schools students are quickly approaching winter break, but some eighth-graders may have a little homework left to finish before the end of the week: fill out high school applications.

Education Issues to Watch in 2018

A new Chicago Public Schools CEO, renewed contract talks and possible school closings top the list

With 2017 drawing to a close, here’s a look at some of the top education issues to watch in the year to come, including CPS’ new leader, school closures and the hotly debated topic of tax credit scholarships.

Police: Off-Duty Officer Shoots Would-Be Carjacker

Felony charges filed Tuesday against teen offender

An off-duty police officer shot and wounded a would-be carjacker Monday evening in the Bronzeville neighborhood, according to the Chicago Police Department, which is dealing with an unprecedented spike in vehicle thefts this year.

State Board to Review CPS Special Education Offerings

The Illinois State Board of Education will hold a public inquiry into Chicago Public Schools after advocate outrage stemming from a WBEZ report on the district’s special education practices.

CPS Music Teacher’s Outreach Helps Replace Stolen Instruments

(Flickr / Feliciano Guimarães)

A music teacher at Fulton Elementary has raised thousands of dollars and collected donations from around Chicago to replace dozens of instruments that were stolen from his school.

FCC Repeals Net Neutrality Regulations Despite Protests

The Federal Communications Commission votes to repeal Obama-era protections for internet neutrality, citing the elimination of unnecessary regulations. But critics fear internet service providers may start using fees and censorship to limit access to some sites.