Public radio reporters Sarah Karp and Adriana Cardona-Maguigad of WBEZ broke the news of the latest Chicago charter school scandal.
Michael Milkie, the CEO of Noble, the city’s largest charter school network, is being investigated following complaints of “inappropriate behavior toward young female alumnae.”
Milkie has resigned in disgrace but without further consequences.
Noble runs 17 charter high schools and one middle school that serve more than 12,000 students.
As the WBEZ story says, “The charter network is also a darling of the city’s rich and powerful, with campuses bearing such names as Rauner, Pritzker and Chicago Bulls.”
WBEZ interviewed one alumna who said Milkie used his powerful position several years ago to put her in a terrible situation. She was in her early 20s, and just out of college, when she was asked to chaperone a college trip Milkie was taking with a handful of current Noble students. After having dinner with students, he took her into the college town and they went to a bar.
She said he pushed her to drink, despite several refusals. She said she then left to go back to the hotel and, on the way back, he held her hand.
“At that point, I felt very uncomfortable,” said the Noble graduate, who WBEZ is not naming to protect her privacy. “I pulled away.”
At the hotel, he told her he wanted to show her the lake, which the hotel overlooked. She said he then picked her up and put her over the ledge of a balcony. She said she became “very frightened and screamed.”
She was so afraid of Milkie that she barricaded herself in her room and called her boyfriend to pick her up.
“I was crying hysterically because I didn’t know what had just happened,” she said. “[I was] really upset and scared. I knew that there were some lines that were crossed and some power dynamics that were pushed, and I knew I needed to get out of there immediately.”
The young woman had plans to become a teacher, working under Milkie at one of the Noble campuses.
Once back in Chicago, she said Milkie called and texted her incessantly until she finally answered and told him to stop.
The Noble graduate said she shared her harrowing story with the Noble staffer who hired her to chaperone the college visit. She doesn’t know what, if anything, came of her complaint.
There are other complaints by former female students.
Chicago Public Schools budgeted more than $157 million for Noble charter schools this year. Last year Milkie made $262,000, according to the organization’s 2017 tax return.