Michael Kelly, the Morgan Park resident who had been CEO and superintendent of the Chicago Park District for a decade, resigned on Oct. 9, hours after Mayor Lori Lightfoot said he should be fired in the wake of sexual-abuse allegations against park district lifeguards.
Kelly reportedly texted the Chicago Tribune the resignation letter he sent to Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners President Avis Lavelle, which said his resignation was effective immediately.
“It has been an honor to steward this extraordinary organization for the past ten years,” Kelly said in the letter. “It has also been an honor to serve Chicagoans as a public servant for the past 27 years. I have always had the best interests of our patrons and our employees at heart.”
An attempt to reach Kelly was not successful, and the park district did not return a request for comment.
Kelly was appointed by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2011. Kelly’s biography on the park district website was no longer available on the evening after he resigned. The sexual-abuse scandal was first reported by National Public Radio’s WBEZ 91.5 in April, and alleged victims said a troublesome culture at city swimming pools and beaches included sexual assault against minors.
According to WBEZ, Kelly was informed of an allegation for the first time in February 2020 but did not forward that complaint to the park district’s inspector general until mid-March of that year.
Allegations also included that employees who investigated misconduct became the victims of retaliation.
An emergency meeting of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners was held Oct. 8, but the public was not allowed to attend.
Lightfoot attended the meeting, and she said the next day that Kelly should be fired.
Reports of his resignation became public that evening.
According to reports, the park district board will work with Lightfoot to appoint an interim CEO.