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CORRUPTION CPS: Byrd-Bennett federal 'Investigation' and raids predictable... Years of Substance's reporting of Chicago malfeasance and illicit activity ignored... CPS is still covering up most facts... an example: How much was paid for her dozens of First Class plane trips back to her Ohio home?...

Chicago Public Schools "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd-Bennett (BBB to some) is now under federal investigation for a $20-million dollar no bid contract to SUPES academy. SUPES Academy is a company she worked for. At Substancenews.net we have been reporting for three years now about BBB (as she is commonly called) and how she is wasting taxpayer dollars by creating hiring her cronies at top dollar, pushing a charter school and privatization agenda, and promoting significant discord in the nation's third-largest school district.

Continuing the cover up, Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz (left) and Board President David Vitale (center) head to the Board's second press conference of the years since Ruiz and Vitale were appointed to the Board in May and June 2011. One of the first policies instituted by Ruiz and Vitale after they were appointed by Rahm Emanuel in 2011 was to end unscripted press conference for the first time in CPS history. Instead, the CPS "Office of Communications" was placed under the command of former Blagojevich aide Becky Carroll, who successfully ladled out news tips to certain reporters while suppressing information to all others. Most of Chicago's corporate media went along with the deal, especially since it involved the continued blacklisting of Substance, which had begun at WTTW and other corporate media outlets even before Emanuel's return to Chicago. Substance photo by David Vance. Before Barbara Byrd Bennett was hired as CEO, she was already working in the district as one of the highest paid consultants in the history of the system. The members of the Chicago Board of Education had voted to hire her six months earlier at $21,500 a month. All-the-while, then CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was also being paid a full salary. CEO Brizard was forced to resign, CPS officials and the corporate press said, because of his handling of the Chicago Teachers Union strike of 2012. That has since been the official line of CPS. Never investigated was why the members of the Board voted to hire her months before the 2012 strike.

As soon as Byrd Bennett started working for CPS as an employee in 2012, the red flags started flying.

Residency issues arose, with evidence showing that Byrd-Bennett's residence was in Solon, Ohio, outside of Cleveland. Even to this day it is openly known inside CPS administration that she has travelled almost every weekend back to her home in that high-end Cleveland suburb. Most of these times, she traveled with her Ohio friends back home on Friday afternoons. These rumors have been confirmed by more than one source that has daily contact with Byrd-Bennett. Despite all the talk about significant reporting from corporate media about the corruption at CPS, the material revealed about the SUPES deal is only the tip of the iceberg. And from the way in which the April 22 Board of Education meeting has been covered, it seems likely that most of the cover up will continue.

Soon, there were the reports and later public admission by the Chicago Board of Education that Byrd Bennett had secondary employment. Such secondary employment is supposedly prohibited by the CPS ethics policies.

But the Board gave Byrd Bennett a personal letter to allow her to continue her dual employment. Such activity would be considered a conflict of interest for any other CPS employee. As time went on, every ethical "standard" supposedly present in CPS was undermined. How much did the CPS Inspector General investigate about Byrd Bennett's activities?

Like most of the lies told by Barbara Byrd Bennett and the seven Board of Education members who have backed everything she has gotten away with, the November 2014 promise that the Board would hold meetings "regularly" outside of its Loop offices has never been kept. Unless "regularly" means once every decade. Above, Byrd Bennett on the stage of Westinghouse High School during the November 2014 Board of Education meeting -- the only meeting held outside the secure downtown CPS offices since Rahm Emanuel appointed Byrd Bennett and the seven Board members years ago. Substance photo by Nate Goldbaum.On top of this information, came the revelations that not only did she have one other job while employed full time as CEO of the third largest school district, but that she was employed or compensated in one way or another by five other organizations.

Here is the list of jobs that BBB has connections to:

1. Catapult Learning -- Senior Advisor for strategic planning

2. SUPES Leadership Academy for Superintendents and Principals -- Senior Advisor

3. Broad Superintendent Academy -- Executive Coach

4. Synesi -- Senior Advisor for the design and implementation of school turn around

5. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Curriculum Group -- Superintendent in Residence

6. New Schools for Chicago -- Director

The organization in the news since April 12, 2015, is SUPES Academy. SUPES received its no-bid $20 million dollar contract to train principals. It is a fact that Byrd Bennett worked at the highest levels at SUPES even after starting to work for CPS. The members of the Board of Education voted unanimously and without debate in favor of the SUPES contract at their June 2013 meeting. The agenda item to hire SUPES noted that it was a no-bid contract, but it was literally buried in the paperwork from that meeting (it was the 51st purchasing contract listed out of 52; any reader can go back to the CPS "Action Agendas" for the June 2013 Board meeting and see how Byrd Bennett put through the deal...).

Bryd-Bennett has at least three close friends that she hired at different times to the highest paying jobs in the district to basically be her personal advisors. In one case, Rhonda Corr Saegart, who according to online records, does not possess any Illinois teaching or admoinistrative certifications, yet supervises an entire Network responsible for 35 schools of students, teachers and administrators. There are reports that Rhonda Saegert brags she is untouchable because she is best buddies with BBB. Lets see how that flies in the office now after her BF is all over the news. In another case her close friend from Ohio, Leaura Materassi-Eaton uses the same expensive downtown high rise address to claim residency, 233 E. Wacker Dr.; one lists Apt. #2911 as a residence and the other uses #609. Strange they use the same expensive address in such a big city. Then you have Tracy Martin another close Ohio friend of Byrd Bennett who cooincidently uses a Chicago address less than two blocks away in another high rise on the Chicago River at 360 E. South Water St. Apt #3701. Teachers working their entire careers could not even dream about going into these adresses, yet three non-Illinois residents from Ohio making over a half million dollars combined wierdly, use adresses three minutes apart from each other in some of the the most expensive areas of Chicago.

The easiest way to explain how BBB is a paid top do exactly what is being now reported as "news" is to look at teh careers of the peopel she has brought to Chiacgo with her. Barbara Byrd-Bennett Quick time line (for comparison to crony hires complied)

1998 2006 Chief Executive Officer - Cleveland Schools

2006 2009 Executive Officer New Leaders - DC Schools

2009 2011 Chief Academic and Accountability Auditor - Detroit Schools

2011 2013 SUPES Academy

1) Sherry Ulery - $175,000 - BBB Chief of Staff

Worked with BBB in Cleveland (92-07); DC (07-09); Detroit (09-11); Chicago Hire (9/26/12)

(quit 2 weeks ago)

2) Leaura Materasii-Eaton - $140,000 CPS Turn Around Schools Administrator

Worked with BBB in Cleveland (98-06); DC (07-09); Detroit (09-11); Chicago Hire (1/28/13)

3) Tracy Martin - $170,000 CPS Chief of Strategic School Supports

Worked with BBB in Cleveland (93-07); DC (07-09); Detroit (09-11); SUPES (11-Present);

Chicago Hire (11/26/12)

4) Rhonda Corr Saegert $151,131.43 CPS Chief of Schools Network 10

No IL Ed Credentials - highest position principal in Cleveland

Uses three different iterations of her name in different states and past job positions

Worked in Cleveland (98-12); Chicago Hire date (8/19/13)

5) Robert Boik $165,000 - Chief of Staff

Worked in Detroit to close schools; Chicago Hire (4/16/12)

6) Jack Elsey - $165,000 CPS Chief Innovation and Incubation

Worked with BBB in Detroit to close schools; Chicago Hire (1/14/13)

The above individuals were hired under BBB influence, with a few exceptions all have followed BBB from Ohio and Detroit even some worked DC who worked for Michelle Rhee, the nationally known union busting Chancellor in the DC public schools. These people are no accidents and neither is any investigation. It was and is predictable. The main stream media ignored all the reports and past history; until now, after Rham's election a big investigation into years old malfeasance and ethics issues are under the proverbial gun.

Now looking back it is clear this was a set-up 3 years ago to get to this point. All the indicators were there that BBB is a set up artist. The early stories we of her time in DC schools, the Cleveland schools, Detroit Schools and DC schools all districts that fell into hard times under her watch. In the case of Detroit schools that were put under emergency management with the power to terminate collective bargaining agreements under Robert Bobb in Detroit, who incidentally worked in DC schools at the same time BBB was working with the DC schools.

Read past issues of Substance News and you can see the pattern of BBB across State lines. The above information has come from primary source documents investigated over three years and confidential sources. Documents and statements have been collected over the years that have never been revealed and Substance News will determine how they should now be released in relation to the current investigation.



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