CHICAGO – The leader of Chicago Public Schools announced Monday that she is leaving the post later this year because it's time to “pass the torch to new leadership" of the nation's third-largest school district.
The move follows a tumultuous tenure for longtime district educator Janice Jackson, who became CEO in 2018 after twice serving in the post temporarily following scandals involving two predecessors.
Among other things, Jackson oversaw schools during an 11-day teachers strike in 2019, community uproar over plans to remake high schools in a low-income pocket of the city and bitter fights with the Chicago Teachers Union over reopening plans following coronavirus pandemic restrictions. The battles nearly resulted in a strike this year as students prepared to return to classrooms since going remote in March 2020.
In a letter to CPS families, Jackson acknowledged the difficult parts of her term but said it was an honor to serve Chicago's children for more than two decades. Roughly 355,000 students attend the city's public schools.
“While I feel there is still more work to be done in CPS, I also believe it is time to pass the torch to new leadership for the next chapter,” Jackson wrote in a letter.
Jackson said she won't renew her contract, which expires June 30.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters that the district will conduct a nationwide search for the next schools chief.
Jackson, who grew up in Chicago and attended city schools, first took a teaching job with the district in 1999. She then became a principal and held several leadership roles, including chief education officer.