Archives for category: Emanuel, Rahm

The former CEO of Chicago public schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, pleaded guilty to charges of participating in a kickback in exchange for a $23 million contract for SUPES Academy, her former employer.

Prosecutors recommended a reduced sentence of 7 1/2 years in prison in return for her cooperation. Her sentencing comes later.

Further down in the story, one reads that Mayor Rahm Emanuel concealed his knowledge of the deal. Even more interesting, Byrd-Bennett’s co-conspirator is a close ally of Rahm Emanuel. He recommended Emanuel’s first CEO, J.C. Brizard, then recommended Byrd-Bennett. Emanuel claimed that his administration asked “hard questions” about the no-bid contract before it was approved.

This story illustrates what is wrong about mayoral control: no checks or balances. A perfect set-up for corruption.

“A federal indictment unsealed Thursday accused Byrd-Bennett in a massive scheme with the co-owners of SUPES Academy, a company she worked for before joining CPS. The federal probe was revealed in April after CPS acknowledged receiving grand jury subpoenas seeking an array of documents on the SUPES contract. Soon after, Byrd-Bennett took a paid leave of absence and then resigned in May.

“SUPES owners Gary Solomon, a consultant with ties to the Emanuel administration, and partner Thomas Vranas also were charged in the 23-count indictment, as was SUPES and another education consulting company the two ran. Solomon and Vranas are scheduled to be arraigned at 2 p.m. Wednesday, records show.

“The heart of the indictment involved more than $23 million in no-bid contracts awarded to SUPES to train CPS principals and other administrators beginning in 2012. A CPS committee set up to evaluate no-bid contracts initially balked at awarding SUPES a noncompetitive deal but less than a month later approved the plan, records show.

“According to the charges, Solomon agreed to kick back 10 percent of the total value of any contracts awarded to SUPES while Byrd-Bennett held the No. 2 post with CPS. She was later elevated by Emanuel to CEO.

“Much of the indictment centers on emails sent between Solomon and Byrd-Bennett that seem to make no effort to conceal the alleged kickback scheme. In one message, Byrd-Bennett even implied she needed cash because she had “tuition to pay and casinos to visit,” according to the charges.

“In a December 2012 message, Solomon assured Byrd-Bennett that trust accounts had been set up in the names of two of her young relatives — identified by sources as twin grandsons — and that they would be funded with a combined $254,000 as a “signing bonus” for her help in obtaining the contracts.

“The cash would be hers once she stepped down from her public post and rejoined his firm, Solomon wrote in the email….

“While Byrd-Bennett became the public face of the scandal, the Tribune has reported previously that Solomon’s ties to the Emanuel administration go back to the beginning of Emanuel’s tenure in office, predating the arrival of Byrd-Bennett. In fact, Solomon helped recruit Emanuel’s first schools CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, at the request of the mayor-elect’s transition team in February 2011.

“Solomon went on to recommend Byrd-Bennett, who was the lead trainer at SUPES when CPS hired her as chief education officer in April 2012.

“Emanuel and his aides have maintained that the mayor’s office had nothing to do with the SUPES contract. When asked in April if his administration had any role at all in the SUPES contract, Emanuel told reporters, “No, you obviously know that by all the information available. And so the answer to that is no.”

“On Monday, Emanuel acknowledged for the first time that his office had prior knowledge of the deal, saying his staff “asked some very hard questions” about the no-bid contract before the Chicago school board approved it.

“The comments came on the same day the Tribune reported the mayor’s office was more involved in the $20.5 million contract than previously disclosed and was fighting the release of public records that could shed more light on how the deal came to be.

“As part of that fight, the Tribune in June sued the city under the state Freedom of Information Act after the mayor’s office redacted or withheld about two dozen emails emanating from Emanuel’s office.

“While much of the picture remains missing, the email logs and documents the administration did release show frequent communication among key Emanuel aides, Chicago school leaders and the heads of the SUPES Academy consulting firm in the months, weeks and days leading up to Emanuel’s hand-picked school board awarding the contract.”

We are left to wonder: What did Mayor Emanuel know and when did he know it?

An afterthought: I served on two different boards with Barbara BB. I thought she was smart and honorable person. I liked her. I am sad for her. She swam with sharks, and she lost her moral center. Very sad.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, former CEO of the Chicago public schools, is expected to plead guilty to charges of taking a kickback from a $23 million contract to a company she once worked for. Now, other contracts are under scrutiny, including a contract to a company owned by Robert Bobb, former leader of the Educational Achievement Authority in Detroit.

““Chicago Tonight” has learned of a probe into another contract where a firm with ties to Byrd-Bennett received CPS business. This as Byrd-Bennett is expected to plead guilty Tuesday to charges that she steered $23 million in CPS money to SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates in exchange for bribes and kickbacks.

“The arrangement in question: a $31 million contract to help CPS manage the controversial closing and consolidation of 50 schools that took place two years ago. It’s under scrutiny, “Chicago Tonight” has learned, because of ties between former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and one of the companies that received that business.

“A company called Global Workplace Solutions won the $30.9 million bid to help close the schools. The duties involved relocating records, removing contents, furnishings and equipment from the closed schools, and then securing the closed schools. A portion of the business was subcontracted to a company called The Robert Bobb Group, a company run by Robert Bobb, the former Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools. Bobb hired Byrd-Bennett in Detroit in 2009 as Chief Academic Auditor and paid her a salary of $18,000 per month.”

Mike Klonsky reports that Chicago Public Schools is cutting special education.

“Our autocrat at City Hall appears bent on dismembering special education in Chicago by a thousand cuts. SpEd took its first major deep cut over the summer eliminating 500 positions at CPS. More cuts announced late Friday mean approximately 160 schools would lose special education teachers, while 184 would lose aides.”

Let the lawsuits begin. There is a federal law to protect children with disabilities.

Mike Klonsky reports the latest news from Chicago.

Rahm Emanuel said that Dyett would re-open as an open-enrollment high school. This was his way of thumbing his nose at the hunger strikers, whose proposal called for a school whose theme was green technology and global leadership.

The community leaders want a voice. They will continue their hunger strike.

They are proof positive that real change happens when people act and do and put their bodies on the line.

Rahm and Andrew backed off today. Or maybe they didn’t.

Rahm decided that Dyett High School re-open as an open-enrollment school. Cuomo said the Common Core and the testing were badly bungled by the State Education Department (John King), and he needs a commission to review the mess that he (Cuomo) made.

Bear in mind that Cuomo has no constitutional authority for education. He does not appoint the state Board of Regents (the legislature does) or the state commissioner (the Regents do).

Did Rahm really back down? Did Cuomo?

Ask the experts.

Here is Mike Klonsky in Chicago.

Here is Peter Greene, calling hoax.

This is the end of the 11th day of the hunger strike to save Dyett High School in Chicago.

You can help. Here are some suggestions:

Parents 4 Teachers

Parents 4 Teachers (P4T) has come together to stand up for teachers and work for real education reform.

Standing up for teachers means standing up for our kids!

Join Our Facebook Group!

#WeareDyett too! Call the Mayor, 312-744-3300

Flood Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office with calls, 312-744-3300, urging him to support the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School. Breaking news from the Chicago Sun-Times:

CPS, Emanuel hint new school may not be needed at Dyett site –


We at Parents 4 Teachers express our strongest solidarity with and deepest concern for the health and well-being of Chicago’s Dyett 12, who initiated a hunger strike nearly two weeks ago to urge city and CPS leaders to re-open Dyett High School (which the Board of Education voted to phase out in February 2012) as an open-enrollment, public, neighborhood high school. For years, Mayor Emanuel and his appointed Board of Education has undermined and stalled decision-making on this community-driven proposal to re-open the Bronzeville high school—the last public, neighborhood high school in this historic African American neighborhood—as the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School (see proposal here).
As an action of last-resort to the years of stalling and underhandedness of Mayor Emanuel and his appointed/unelected Board of Education, these courageous parents, grandparents and community members are putting their bodies on the line so their children and children across Chicago can have high quality, equitable and joyous public schools.

Because of the media blackout on the #FightForDyett hunger strike, P4T, like so many others, has taken to social media to get the word out. We are regularly posting on Twitter (follow us at @P4TChicago) and P4T FB. And most importantly, we have been going to Dyett at 555 E. 51st (they are generally there from 10-3) to support the hunger strikers in any way we can. Please join us!

Here are other ways that you can help now:

1) Call the Mayor’s office at 312-744-3300 and urge him to meet with the Hunger Strikers ASAP and express your support for the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology proposal. Also, call your Alderman to put pressure on the Mayor.

2) Attend the #FightForDyett Solidarity and Cultural Event Friday, August 28, 5:00-7:00pm at Operation Push, 50th & Drexel; bring your music, poetry and love to uplift the Hunger Strikers.

3) See the Teachers for Social Justice website and Dyett GLGT FB page for action alerts and updates.

For more information about this important struggle for our children and public education, please see the following:

Phantoms Playing Double-Dutch: Why the Fight for Dyett is Bigger than One Chicago School Closing | Eve L. Ewing, August 26, 2015

Fight for Dyett High School Hunger Strike—Day 8 | CNNiReport, August 25, 2015

In Chicago, Hunger Strikers Fight for a High School | Washington Post, August 26, 2015

Dyett Hunger-Strikers Vow to Continue Fight | Chicago Sun-Times, August 26, 2015

Two School Board Members Press for Resolution of Dyett High Controversy | Catalyst, August 26, 2015

Teachers, Parents, Rail Against CPS Budget, Dyett Hunger Striker Collapses | DNAInfo, August 26, 2015

Dyett Hunger Strikers Gain Support; Striker Collapses at CPS Board Meeting | Chicago Tribune, August 26, 2015

Chicago Parents Launch Hunger Strike for Community Input in School’s Future | Reel News, August 23, 2015


We have a lot of work ahead of us to ensure quality schools for all Chicago children and fairness and respect for educators.

Please join us and consider making a donation to support our work.

Email to get involved and then forward this email to a friend!

Parents4Teachers, Defending Public Education, Chicago, IL 60625
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In day 11 of the Dyett High School hunger strike, health professionals warned that the situation was dangerous and urged the mayor to accept the strikers’ petition.

“”This is truly an emergency,” said Dr. Linda Rae Murray, chief medical officer for the Cook County Department of Public Health, as she delivered a letter Thursday signed by 17 local doctors and nurses to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office on the fifth floor of City Hall.

“We consider the current situation to be a deepening health emergency in our city,” the letter states. “It is one you can abate by reaching out to the strikers, entertaining their grievances and accepting their proposal.”

“We’re here as medical professionals to inform the public to call on the mayor to take action immediately,” Murray added….”

“This has become a really serious issue,” Raether said. “We believe the mayor needs to respond to a health emergency.”

Yet Emanuel hinted Thursday the entire Dyett reopening may be in doubt.

“While saying that his newly appointed Board of Education President Frank Clark and CPS Chief Executive Officer Forrest Claypool are “going to work through a number of issues as it relates to the Dyett High School, its future and its part of the community,” he immediately pointed out there are 10 high schools within a three-mile radius of Dyett.

“Within about a mile of the school is King College Prep,” Emanuel added during an impromptu news conference Thursday morning. “So there’s a lot of high schools in that area. How do you talk about another one when even some of the high schools within the three-mile radius are not at capacity yet?”

Rahm Emanuel picked an experienced technocrat to lead the Chicago Public Schools, after misfortunes with out-of-town educators J.C. Brizard and Barbara Byrd-Bennett.

Catalyst, the Chicago education publication, says that Emanuel is reverting to “the Daley way” by choosing a non-educator, in this case one who is known for cost cutting.

“Today, Emanuel opted for his own chief of staff and the former president of the Chicago Transit Authority, Forrest Claypool — who has no experience in education and says his first priority will be “making the system as efficient as it can possibly be.”

Troy LaRaviere, principal of Blaine Elementary School in Chicago, challenges Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s claim that he could not avoid layoffs and could not fund educators’ pensions.

Not true, writes LaRaviere.

“However — as I understand it — we do not want to stop at just
being functional. We want to be effective. We want to be excellent.

“For that to happen, we need early at-home interventions for preschool-age children from low-income households, smaller student-to-teacher ratios, thoughtful training for teachers, a competitive compensation and benefits package to attract skilled professionals. We need a rich arts curriculum, exceptional educators whose efforts are focused on the children who come to us less prepared than their peers, a rigorous curriculum tailored to local student needs and the thoughtful use of technology in schools.

“The 2013 budget cuts meant that many of our students lost some of those things — the resources that move a school from being functional to being excellent. The 2015 budget cuts will mean that my students — and students across Chicago — will lose even more.

“Politicians frame this as pension payment vs. classroom investment — as if those were the only two expenses our tax dollars are used for and one of them has to be sacrificed. This is patently false. City Hall has had many opportunities for sacrifice in other areas, but it has refused to make those sacrifices.

“Mayor Rahm Emanuel had a chance to sacrifice the diversion of $55 million in taxes to a hotel near McCormick Place. He could have invested some of that tax increment financing money in the pension system instead.”

LaRaviere lists other savings that were there for the Mayor, but he never asked business to sacrifice. Only the children.

He writes:

“Emanuel says one thing, but his behavior says another. He has put investor profits over investing in our teachers and their classrooms.

“He wants us to get used to that. I will never get used to that.

“And neither should you.”

By the way, the tag line on Principal LaRaviere’s email is: “You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.”

Mike Klonsky speculates on who might replace Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who resigned in the midst of a federal investigation of a $20 million np-bid contract to SUPES, a principal training program that BBB once worked for.

Will it be the return of Paul Vallas? A businessman?

MIke says it doesn’t matter.

“Meanwhile, the media debate is all about whether Rahm should appoint another career educator like BBB or J.C Brizard, or another non-educator business guy? I don’t think it makes a damn bit of difference so long as either one, along with the hand-picked school board, are mere puppy dogs. It’s mayoral control of the schools that’s the real issue here. The fact that Rahm is shopping for Chicago’s 6th CEO in 6 years following Huberman, Mazany, Brizard, Byrd-Bennett, and Ruiz, makes my point. Instability is the name of the game and when things go south, like a major scandal or a teachers strike, they are all easily replaceable.

“We need an elected school board and an end to autocratic rule over the schools.”


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