Photo caption: Lindblom Math and Science Academy
Having been physically ejected from a recently held Chicago Board of Education meeting, Troy LaRaviere, president of the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association, called for a federal, state and higher education investigation into the illegal removal of Black Lindblom Math and Science Academy Principal Abdul Muhammad.
“I have already reached out to the Board. They obviously don’t want to talk; so, I am not going to waste more time trying to engage with people who have already demonstrated they don’t want to hear what I have to say,” LaRaviere said.
LaRaviere and Father Michael L. Pfleger have stepped up their demands that school officials return Muhammad to his principal position by calling for an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, the Illinois State Assembly and the Illinois State Board of Education to find out why seven mostly white teachers removed Muhammad because of “82 documented lies.”
LaRaviere and Muhammad appeared on WVON’s “ON THE CASE” Talk Show on Sunday, May 28, and later in an interview with the Chicago Crusader revealing that LaRaviere was physically removed from a Board of Education meeting on May 24. “When I tried to present the facts about Mr. Muhammad’s case, they shut me down and someone grabbed me and escorted me to the door,” he said.
LaRaviere and Muhammad accused seven mostly white Lindblom teachers and a Black clerk of allegedly railroading him out of office with “82 documented lies.”
They were critical of the CPS Law Department’s handling of its internal investigation accusing them of selective prosecution. According to Muhammad, he was chosen principal of Lindblom on June 15, 2022, hired July 7, 2022, and fired on March 31, 2023. Father Pfleger said, “The CPS needs to reinstate Brother Abdul. While we continue to talk about the lack of Black teachers who are teaching our children, here they are firing a great African American male in leadership. This is unacceptable.”
LaRaviere wants Mayor Brandon Johnson to “take a serious look at the allegations we put forth, ensure that Muhammad is reinstated, ensure that everyone from the (CPS) CEO all the way down to Kelly Tarrant, the athletic director, and Devon LaRosa, chief of Network 16, are terminated from their roles in this.
“I also want the mayor to reconstitute the entire (CPS) Law Department, the entire Office of Network Support, and the entire Office of the Local School Council Relations,” LaRaviere said. “They also took Muhammad’s name off the principal’s list, so he cannot apply to become a principal again.”
Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th) called into the talk show and offered his assistance as well. Ironically, Davis had sat in on one of Muhammad’s classes and was very impressed with his handling of the students and their positive response to his leadership. “I will do anything to help you. Just let me know.”
Attorney Berve Power, from one of the most respected and oldest Black-owned law firms in Chicago, is one of the lawyers representing Muhammad, along with a cadre of others from LaRaviere’s Principals Association.
Ironically, in 1995, Power, who had just graduated from Morehouse College, was upset with plans to close Lindblom where he graduated from in 1992 and where his father taught chemistry there for 38 years.
In 1995, Power organized protests and stopped the closing of Lindblom, then one of seven schools said to have been underutilized. The plan, Powers said, was to displace Black students and replace them with a growing Hispanic population in that area.
Now, in 2023, Powers is once again entering into another fight for justice at his alma mater, this time representing a Black principal “unjustly and wrongfully” removed from office. Powers said he is surprised that Muhammad “never got an opportunity to even show what he is capable of, because from the very beginning there were actions being taken that were not helpful to his administration…false allegations that required him to divert some of his attention to engage and respond” to those false charges.
“There were people in the school who were actively working to literally undermine his administration,” Powers said, referring to the “Lindblom Seven,” mostly white teachers.
“Yes, I am representing him. I have already written communications to the Board of Education to preserve all documents that were created. They removed him before there was a hearing, before he had an opportunity to respond, before there had been a determination,” Powers said.
According to Powers, Muhammad received a determination letter less than two weeks ago; yet he was removed on March 31, 2023. “CPS has been operating under its own powers, and due process is not an element of their system,” Powers said. Muhammad, Powers said, was not given due process.