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Top Chicago Schools Aide Resigns Amid Probe

David Pickens, a former top deputy to Arne Duncan during his tenure in Chicago Public Schools, has resigned amid federal and internal investigations into how influential people gained access to the city's most selective high schools.

As I wrote last week, Pickens maintained a list on behalf of Duncan of those who called central office looking asking for help to get their children or kids they knew into the top programs.

Duncan, his wife, and his mother have all appeared on lists as the sole sponsor seeking help for students seeking access, Chicago's main newspapers have reported, but the education secretary has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Pickens and Peter Cunningham, Duncan's chief spokesman, have said the list simply existed to keep track of the calls and that no untoward pressure was put on principals to greenlight applications sponsored by Chicago VIPs such as Desiree Rogers, the former White House social secretary.

Pickens told the Chicago Sun-Times that the past year has been especially stressful and he has decided to pursue another job opportunity. Pickens has been serving as chief of staff to the school board president. He is serving his second board president of the school year, after the first, Michael Scott, died in an apparent suicide in the fall.

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