Chief Education Officer announces resignation

April 28, 2012

Less than a year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel hand picked Noemi Donoso as the chief education officer, the brusque administrator who hailed from out West is resigning.

A statement released Friday evening said that Donoso is leaving to pursue a national project to train the next generation of urban leaders. She said she has “profound respect and appreciation for this district’s commitment to young people.”

Much of Emanuel’s original education team is no longer in place. Earlier on, Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferguson left. And in recent weeks, Chief Community and Family Engagement Officer Jamiko Rose and CEO Chief of Staff Andrea Saenz both left.

CEO Jean Claude Brizard plans to have another Chief Education Officer in place by the end of May.

Prior to Donoso, the district had not had a chief education officer for a year and a half following the departure of Barbara Eason Watkins in April 2010. Under interim CEO Terry Mazany, Charles Payne served as interim chief education officer and wrote an education plan, which was never implemented. Donoso was charged with implementing a more rigorous curriculum and with helping schools prepare for new teacher and principal evaluations.

The official resignation follows weeks of speculation. Though she is resigning, CPS Spokeswoman Becky Carroll told the Chicago Tribune that a severance package is being worked out, which indicates that Donoso was forced out. Exactly what went wrong is unclear, but principals said they liked the fact that Donoso got out to schools, yet her approach was upfront and off-putting.

This is a corrected version of this story.