Chicago school leaders reconvened for the first time since the death of Michael Scott, and spent most of today's school board meeting remembering the former board president.
Board members, community members and several of Scott's former colleagues at Chicago Public Schools spent more than an hour honoring and telling stories of Scott, who served as president from 2001 to 2006 and was named to the role again in February.
Scott's death was ruled a suicide after he was found by the Chicago River with a gunshot wound to his head a week ago.
Vice President Clare Munana held a moment of silence, and Scott's seat at the front of the board room was adorned with purple, black and white cloth and flowers.
Some of the members held back tears when speaking of Scott. They spoke of Scott as someone of dignity, patience and humor, who had a heart for serving Chicago Public Schools.
"His never failing faith in humanity was contageous. He was a great family man and great friend," member Alberto Carrero Jr. said.
Others expressed Scott's genuine concern for others.
"He always looked at the better side of human beings, and he always looked for optimism," member Tariq Butt said.
Board members and others who spoke admired his ability to calmly work with parents, teachers union representatives and community members. They remembered him as a politician who always listened and could navigate complicated issues with a level head.
"Michael Scott was my friend, and I think many people who have encountered him would say the same thing. He cared, he was thoughtful and he wanted to help," former school board president Rufus Williams said.
Teachers union president Marilyn Stewart remembered Scott for always taking the time to hear the concerns of the union.
"We disagreed on a lot of points, but at no time was his demeanor rude or unkind," Stewart said.
Some encouraged the board and community to use Scott's legacy as a reminder to continue to push for improvements in schools.
"A lot has been said over the last several days about how we can respect what Michael gave," board member Peggy Davis said. "We can try to do what he did. We should take some characteristics fo Michael and try to emulate that in how to deal with each other and address challenges of the system."
The board's student representative, Damani Bolden, hoped that remembering Scott's life could serve as a catalyst to end violence in the city's schools.
"It is my hope that we continue the legacy that Mr. Scott has built and we tackle the issues that plague our school system in his honor, and that we give each other the same sense of love and humility that he gave us," Bolden said.
At least two people questioned the nature of Scott's death. Derrick Harris, of the Lawndale Neighborhood Organization, called ruling Scott's death a suicide an insult to the memory of Scott and the collective intelligence of the community he served.
Harris gave several reasons why he thought Scott would never take his own life, including his Catholic faith, love for his family and success as a public figure. Harris believes Scott's death was a murder.
"Michael was the go-to man in the African American community. Michael was a winner and not a quitter," Harris said. "He could have ran for mayor in 2011 if he wanted to and won."
Board member Roxanne Ward said the best way to move ahead after Scott's death is to take his own advice: Move forward.
"I was always struck by Michael's spirit to move on and how he would council me to not stagnate, not fixate and not wallow. He would keep saying 'keep moving on,'" Ward said.