Ruiz and Vitale 'purge' Byrd Bennett's innner circle, but CPS doesn't explain why those who hired them in the first place -- Ruiz and Vitale -- are still in power... Nor has CPS explained why only the women among BBB's cronies have been dumped....

Above, Barbara Byrd Bennett's "Chief of Staff" (at $175,000 per year) Sherry Ulery stands for the Pledge of Allegiance during the Board of Education's May 22, 2013 meeting. To the right in the above photo is Joe Moriarity, who was part of the Law Department team that signed off on every out-of-town hiring recommendation that Barbara Byrd Bennett brought before the Board in a secret Board Report during her two-and-a-half years as CEO of CPS. Ulery, like most of those fired in July 2015 by CPS, came to Chicago from out of town, with no questions raised by the members of the Board or the Board's lawyers as to how all these hirelings were qualified for top administrative posts in Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The news about Chicago Public Schools was exploding during the days before Chicago began the Fourth of July weekend, with the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on July 3, 2015, that the CPS leadership had finally gotten rid of some of the expensive "posse" imported to run Chicago's schools by now-disgraced former CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett. According to press reports on the morning of July 3, those now out include "Chief of Staff" Sherry Ulery, Chief of Schools (Network Chief) Rhonda Corr Saegert, and a handful of others. But the list published by the Sun-Times, apparently based on leaks by Board of Education "Interim CEO" Jesse Ruiz leaves at least three big unanswered questions:

One. Why are all those purged women, when Byrd Bennett also brought in a large number of men from outside Chicago, and those are apparently still in power?

Two, what has CPS done with the bloated departments that were overseen by the cronies of Byrd Bennett during the two and a half years that Byrd Bennett was in power?

Three, why are the two Board of Education leaders who voted without public discussion to hire all of those out of town "cronies" -- Board President David Vitale and Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz -- still in power? And why haven't they been forced to answer for their expensive hiring binges, which only began with the hiring of Byrd Bennett at CEO of CPS in October 2012 following the Chicago Teachers Strike of September 2012?

Above, Tracy Martin Thompson (right) sits during the Chicago Board of Education's meeting of May 22, 2013, during the time that Martin Thompson was serving in a $170,000-per year job as a top executive in America's third largest school system. CPS began hiring the out-of-town cronies of its "Chief Executive Officer" long before Barbara Byrd Bennett became Rahm Emanuel's second CPS CEO in October 2012. Rahm's first CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, was imported from Rochester New York, and the Board approved his importation of several of his cronies from that district. Among Brizard's cronies was Beth Mascatti-Miller (above left), who was hired to head early childhood programs in Chicago, despite the fact that she had no teaching or administrative experience in Chicago. Mascatti-Miller and Martin-Thompason were among those out-of-town hirings recommended by Barbara Byrd Bennett and approved by the Board of Education after secret Board Reports during the years after Rahm Emanuel appointed David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz to run the Board of Education. Like most of those fired in July 2015 by CPS, Martin Thompson came to Chicago from out of town, with no questions raised by the members of the Board or the Board's lawyers as to how all these hirelings were qualified for top administrative posts in Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.After all, nobody in Chicago had heard of Rhonda Corr Saegert, Sherry Ulery, Tracy Martin Thompson and all the others imported by "BBB" until the Board of Education's even members voted unanimously and without public debate to hire all of them during 2012 and 2013. And those hirings were overseen by David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz, just as Vitale and Ruiz voted for the controversial no-bid SUPES training contract that is now looming as an even bigger scandal facing CPS.

A VERY GOOD STORY APPEARED IN THE JULY 3, 2015 SUN-TIMES. The Tribune apparently was not tipped about the story, and Substance only had rumors before we read it in the Sun-Times:

Among first to go at CPS: ex-CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett's inner circle, WRITTEN BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK POSTED: 07/02/2015, 12:11PM

Among the earliest Chicago Public Schools employees given the ax in a brutal round of layoffs were administrators from former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennetts inner circle, the district has confirmed for the Sun-Times.

In one fell swoop, CPS saved more than $1.4 million in salary and benefits, according to CPS most recently publicly available data. Six women are gone who followed Byrd-Bennett to Chicago after working together in Detroit or Cleveland or both, where she had previously run public school districts. Also gone is a crisis communications officer she hired here. Two of those employees resigned, while five were laid off.

At the time she was purged from the top administration at Chicago Public Schools, Rhonda Corr Saegert (right) was a "Chief of Schools" making $151,000 per year in "Network 10" on Chicago's South Side -- despite the fact that the Ohio native had never taught or been an administrator in Chicago during her career. Her previous job had been as a principal in Cleveland before she was brought into Chicago, with many others, to be part of Byrd Bennett's "inner circle" of outsiders. Above, Corr-Saegert with Alderman Matt O'Shae and Barbara Byrd Bennett during happier times for the Byrd Bennett organization. One member of her inner circle, Tracy Martin, who made $170,000 a year to run a special, new department Byrd-Bennett founded to help struggling schools, resigned on Tuesday, according to CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey. Sherry Ulery, who remained as the $175,000-a-year chief of staff to interim CEO Jesse Ruiz after Byrd-Bennett stepped down in mid-April in the wake of a federal investigation into a controversial no-bid $20.5 million contract, also resigned this week, McCaffrey said. The contract was awarded to The SUPES Academy for principal training. The company, co-owned by controversial former educator Gary Solomon, had previously employed Byrd-Bennett.

Other key Byrd-Bennett hires were not affected.

The employees laid off were:

Jack Elsey (above during the January 2013 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education) was one of "Barbara Byrd Bennett's guys" -- men imported from out of state to run some of the major departments in America's third largest schools system. Elsey's was hired by a unanimous vote of the Chicago Board of Education (then as now headed by David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz) to head the newly created "Office of Innovation and Incubation" at CPS. While many of the women brought in as part of Byrd Bennett's "inner circle" were purged from CPS during the week prior to Fourth of July 2015, all of the guys were still on the CPS payroll as the All-Star Game approached in mid-summer 2015. These included Tennessee's John Barker (who heads "Accountability") and Bob Boik (one of several people with the title "chief of staff"). Photo above by George N. Schmidt, Substance.Rosemary Herpel, a $140,000-a-year executive director of leadership development in the districts human resources office who administered the now-defunct SUPES program.

Paulette Poncelet, a $165,000-a-year chief of educator effectiveness, also in human resources.

Rhonda Corr-Saegert, a $151,000-a-year chief of Network 10 on the Far South Side.

Leaura N. Materassi-Eaton, a $140,000-a-year senior network manager.

And Ron Iori, a $165,000-a-year chief communications officer Byrd-Bennett hired after Mayor Rahm Emanuels ally Becky Carroll stepped down from that post.

As part of their ongoing investigation, federal authorities have sought from CPS employment records for Ulery, Herpel and Martin.

Ulery and Herpel also were called before a federal grand jury. CPS has been paying for lawyers for all three. No one has been accused of any wrongdoing.

Byrd-Bennett and Martin both worked for The SUPES Academy before moving to full-time CPS positions. Byrd-Bennett also worked for Synesi Associates, which is owned by Solomon.

Byrd-Bennett hired Martin in November 2012, about a month after Emanuel elevated Byrd-Bennett to the citys top schools post. Martin oversaw a pet project of Byrd-Bennetts called the Office of Strategic School Support Services or OS4, which helps struggling neighborhood schools and manages their federal grants.

Ulery and Materassi-Eaton worked with Byrd-Bennett in Cleveland and Detroit; Herpel, who once managed a private education foundation in Cleveland that worked closely with Cleveland Public Schools, was hired under Byrd-Bennett in Detroit.

Martin, a Cleveland native, and Ulery, also from Ohio, were at the Cleveland district when Byrd-Bennett was appointed to the top job there in 1998. They both had high-level jobs there when Byrd-Bennett left Ohio in 2006.

By the end of that year, Byrd-Bennett was in Washington, D.C., leading a principal-training group called New Leaders for New Schools. She stayed in D.C. until 2009.

Martin and Ulery worked in Washington during roughly the same time for the public schools there under the leadership of a former city administrator named Robert Bobb.

In May 2009, after Bobb moved to Detroit to become the financially troubled citys emergency manager, he signed Byrd-Bennett to an $18,000-a-month deal as chief academic and accountability auditor consultant.

Martin joined Byrd-Bennett in Detroit as her chief of staff for academics, making nearly $16,000 a month. Ulery was hired as the $15,000-a-month chief of teaching and learning. And Herpel got an $11,000-a-month consulting post.


July 5, 2015 at 9:46 PM

By: Lee Alexander

Cronies Be Gone

It is about time these dead weight money grabbers get sent out of town. Can't wait to see more department heads go... Maybe get qualified Special Education staff in place to support the students? Maybe Ruiz saw the need for Aramark to clean house...

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