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CTU President Jesse Sharkey Had Hand In Writing CPS Letter Announcing High School Return Date -- So Why Did CTU Go On To Slam It?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Time was running out Wednesday for Chicago Public Schools high school parents to decide if their students will return to in-person learning.

CPS wants kids back on April 19 – but just as that date was announced, the Chicago Teachers Union slammed the decision. And as CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov reported Wednesday, the union's response was curious – given that CTU President Jesse Sharkey himself had a hand in sending the CPS email to parents announcing the high school return date.

It has left CPS leaders shaking their heads, and the union blaming CPS for a bait-and-switch.

CPS made the announcement Tuesday afternoon that they would like to get high school students back in classrooms for in-person learning a month from Friday, after more than a year of remote learning amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"I feel confident that we're going to meet hat date, given the way that conversations have been going," said CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson.

That was the tone of an update that Jackson and her team sent out to parents Tuesday – calling negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union "productive," reiterating the April 19 in-person goal, and stating talks will continue as they "strive to reach a consensus" with the union.

Just a few hours later, CTU sent an email to its roughly 25,000 members blasting the CPS update, accusing CPS of "distorting the status of negotiations" and adding, "We have no agreement" on returning to in-person learning "on any date."

But hours before that CPS email went out, CTU President Jesse Sharkey offered his input, by email, on the update the district was about to send out.

A CPS staffer sent a draft to Sharkey, asking for input. Sharkey responded – offering, among other things, a suggestion that CPS add "negotiations aren't finalized yet," or "some other indicator that this process hasn't concluded."

The final CPS update went out a short time later, followed by the CTU's update – accusing CPS of "nothing but complete misrepresentation of the status of discussions."

So what went awry?

"You'd have to ask him that," Jackson said at a news conference Wednesday morning, referring to Sharkey. "I can't speak for him. I'm just stating facts."

Kozlov asked a CTU spokeswoman about the matter. She just referred Kozlov back to the CTU email and the fact that no agreement has yet been reached.

As to how this may affect upcoming talks, that is to be determined.

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