Jul 28, 2022 - News

Pete Leki, CPS remain in dispute

Photo of a teacher leading class in the woods.
Pete Leki on a nature field trip with students. Photo courtesy of Waters Ecology

We recently reported that Waters Elementary School lost Pete Leki, the director of its nationally celebrated ecology program and gardens.

  • Chicago Public Schools officials claimed Leki was ousted after he wouldn't agree to a pay cut or to become an official CPS employee, but Leki insisted he'd agreed to both things and was "fired."

Reality check: Leki showed Axios email chains proving he had indeed agreed to become a CPS employee and take a pay cut.

  • CPS officials say he also proposed new stipulations on hours and fundraising that remain unresolved.
  • But the emails suggest those issues were resolved, and the two sides were collaborating on a statement when Waters Elementary principal Peter Rutkowski suddenly shut down talks and released a note about Leki's departure.

What's next: More than 600 people have signed petitions urging the school to retain Leki.

  • But when Axios asked if Leki could still be a part of the garden he's tended for 30 years, Rutkowski answered, "No comment."
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