under pressure

Aurora school board president plans to call for resignation of embattled member Eric Nelson

PHOTO: Aurora Public Schools
The Aurora school board poses with Superintendent Rico Munn. Eric Nelson is third from the left in the top row. Amber Drevon is first on the left in the bottom row.

In the wake of allegations that Aurora school board member Eric Nelson may have misrepresented his education, military experience and criminal history, board president Amber Drevon said Monday she plans to request that Nelson resign.

“At tomorrow’s meeting, because of the serious nature of these allegations, I will express my personal opinion that in the interest of not distracting us from the work of serving students, that Director Nelson should immediately resign from the Board,” Drevon said in a statement.

Nelson said last week that he has no plans to resign. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

Drevon said she also will ask her colleagues on the seven-member Aurora Public Schools Board of Education to vote to suspend Nelson from his duties as board secretary, as well as from his duties as a board liaison to “various schools and community groups.”

In addition, Drevon said she will “direct the APS administration to remove Director Nelson’s posted biography and any pictures where he is wearing academic regalia until such a time as we are able to substantiate his stated credentials.”

Nelson’s posted biography on the district website says he has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southeastern University, a master’s degree in social work from Northwest Nazarene University, an MBA from Northeastern University and a doctorate in organizational psychology from Southeastern University.

Nelson’s credentials were called into question last week. The Colorado Statesman reported that Nelson embellished his Air Force record, and that at least one of the universities he claims to have attended has no record of him being a student. A diploma from another university that he provided to the media misspells the name of the school.

The Statesman also reported that Nelson lied about his criminal record, which includes domestic violence charges, when he applied to the state to become a bail bondsman.

Nelson was elected to the APS board in 2013. He is now one of two Democrats running for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives. Several members of that party have called for Nelson to withdraw from the race. Ballots have already been mailed.

The Aurora school board is set to meet Tuesday at 6 p.m.

meet the candidates

These candidates are running for Detroit school board. Watch them introduce themselves.

Nine candidates are vying for two seats on Detroit's school board in November. Seven submitted photos.

One candidate tells of a childhood in a house without heat.

Another describes the two-hour commute he made to high school every day to build a future that would one day enable him to give back to Detroit.

A third says her work as a student activist inspired her to run for school board as a recent high school grad.

These candidates are among nine people vying for two seats up for grabs on Detroit’s seven-member school board on Nov. 6. That includes one incumbent and many graduates of the district.

Chalkbeat is partnering with Citizen Detroit to present a school board candidate forum Thursday, Sept. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at IBEW Local 58, 1358 Abbott St., Detroit.

Participants will have the opportunity to meet each candidate and ask questions in a speed-dating format.

In anticipation of that event, Citizen Detroit invited each of the candidates to make a short video introducing themselves to voters. Seven candidates made videos.

Watch them here:

School safety

Report lists litany of failings over police in Chicago schools

PHOTO: Scott Olson/Getty Images
Police officers stand alongside Lake Shore Drive in August as protesters decry violence and lack of investment in African-American neighborhoods and schools

The Chicago Police Department doesn’t adequately screen and train the officers it assigns to Chicago Public Schools, and their roles in schools are poorly defined, according to a sharply critical report released today by the Office of Inspector General Joseph Ferguson.

The report lists a litany of failings, including basic administration: There is no current agreement between the police department and the district governing the deployment of school resource officers, or SROs, and neither the schools nor the police even have a current list of the officers working in schools this year.

The inspector general’s report also mentions several sets of SRO resources and best practices created and endorsed by the federal government, then notes that Chicago hasn’t adopted any of them. “CPD’s current lack of guidance and structure for SROs amplifies community concerns and underscores the high probability that students are unnecessarily becoming involved in the criminal justice system, despite the availability of alternate solutions,” says the report.

Chalkbeat reported in August about incidents in which SROs used batons and tasers on students while intervening in routine disciplinary matters.

Scrutiny of SROs is nothing new, and is part of the broader CPD consent decree brokered this week between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. That agreement calls for better training and vetting of SROs, as well as a clearer delineation of their roles on campuses—including a prohibition against participating in routine school discipline — beginning with the 2019-20 school year.

Read more: How the police consent decree could impact Chicago schools

But the report from Ferguson’s office says that the consent decree doesn’t go far enough. It chastises police for not pledging to include the community in the creation of its agreement with the school district, nor in the establishment of hiring guidelines; and for not creating a plan for evaluating SROs’ performance, among other recommendations. In addition, the report criticizes the police department for delaying the reforms until the 2019-20 school year. A draft of the inspector general’s report was given to the police department in early August in hopes that some of the issues could be resolved in time for the school year that began last week. The police department asked for an extension for its reply.