Pick for Chicago Park District top lawyer withdraws

Weeks after being offered the $198,000-a-year job — and days before he was scheduled to begin work — the lawyer chosen to be the new general counsel for the Chicago Park District said Tuesday he would “withdraw my name from consideration.”

The move by Evanston Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings followed recent reports about a federal civil rights lawsuit in which his deputy in the northern suburb alleges “racist and misogynistic harassment and a “hostile work environment.”

The spokesperson for the Park District told WBEZ that the agency’s leaders were “not aware of the lawsuit at the time they offered him the job.” The lawsuit is pending in the U.S. District Court in Chicago.

But in a scathing letter Tuesday to Park District CEO Rosa Escareño and Park District Board President Myetie Hamilton in which he removed himself from consideration, Cummings also wrote that he had told the Park District that the accusations in Evanston were investigated last year by an outside law firm and found to be “unfounded.”

“These facts and the allegations lodged against me were shared with the Chicago Park District team during a thorough process that consisted of four formal interviews and several informal discussions with various members of the Park District team” before he got the new job at the city’s parks, Cummings wrote.

Cummings wrote that he had been treated as if he were guilty of the accusations by the media — and “apparently also by would-be colleagues.”

Still, Cummings wrote, he decided to pull out because “I recognize the allegations made against me and the media reports about them could cause a distraction for the Park District administration, staff and board. I feel that would make it difficult for me to be effective serving as the General Counsel at this time.”

Park District officials

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Parents say middle school students were searched illegally, threaten legal action

HOPE MILLS, N.C. — Parents at a Cumberland County middle school are outraged because they say their children were illegally searched Friday morning on campus.

Hope Mills Middle school officials searched students as they arrived, and according to several parents, they were not notified about it.

“There was a line outside, and I went in it, and I didn’t know what was going on,” said Daiana Johnson, a student. “I just looked in the locker room for a second and saw the teachers in there. I didn’t think of it that much and then I got my phone out and tried to text her because I had figured out that they were searching people,”.

The principal sent a letter home with students to give to their parents, alerting them about this morning’s random search, which was supposed to be conducted by the school’s safety and security department and local law enforcement. Some parents said they never received the note and would never have consented to the search.

Letter to Hope Mills Middle school parents informing them about this morning's search.

“They did not have my support; if they would have called and said, ‘Hey, we’re going to search your child, do we have consent,’ I would have come up and witnessed why they wanted to search my child,” said Wayne Melvin, a parent. “If they had reasonable doubt as she committed a crime or had something on her that they was suspicious of, then I would have allowed them to search.”

The Cumberland County Sheriff’s Officials say it didn’t authorize the search and would have never conducted one without probable cause.

Asked about the search, Lindsay Whitley, Cumberland County Schools spokesman, issued this statement:

District officials recently learned about a security screening that took place at Hope Mills Middle School this morning. Around 500 students are enrolled at the school. Most of the

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