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Byrd Bennett in Detroit... The truth about her self-dealing was exposed years and years ago...

By the time Rahm Emanuel began importing Barbara Byrd Bennett into Chicago in March and April 2012 (six months prior to the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012), everyone who had been paying attention to her self-dealing and corrupt career beginning in Cleveland knew what would happen once she had the power. After the Board fired the first "CEO" of Chicago Public Schools in September - October 2012 (blaming Jean Claude Brizard for the strike), Bryd Bennet went from being the "Chief Academic Officer" to being chief of the school system. Immediately, she went to work closing the largest number of schools in American history, while beginning her own corrupt plans to make money through CPS contracts. Substance photo with permission by Socialist Worker. [Editor's Note: We reprint this as a reminder that it has taken Chicago corporate media a long time to begin publishing all the facts of the corrupt career of Barbara Byrd Bennett, which began further back than anything that was recognized by most of Chicago when "BBB" was running Chicago's schools. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

Publisher launches a partnership with Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Free Press, April 5, 2010

Ohanian Comment: There's no mention here that the Detroit chief academic and accountablity officer/auditor Barbara Byrd-Bennett, once worked for Harcourt School Publishers. She was superintendent in residency.

Never mind. I provided some necessary background at the end of October 2009. In short, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Detroit's chief academic and accountability officer/auditor, used to work for Harcourt School Publishers.

Do I repeat myself? I'm trying to make up for the total lack information in the Detroit Free Press.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Detroit's chief academic and accountability officer/auditor, used to work for Harcourt School Publishers.

And here's more.

You can read her letter of engagement [pdf file] with the Detroit Public Schools where she is paid $776.70 per day. She is "an independent contractor and not an employee, agent, joint venturer, or partner of the District."

If $775.70 a day proves to be insufficient, during the period of the contract, Byrd-Bennett's letter of agreement gives her the right to find additional work elsewhere--to supplement that $776.70 per day. That hiring period ended March 2, 2010, but Byrd-Bennett is still in Detroit, able to greet old friends from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. NOTE: This Detroit Free Press "article" has no author. It is listed under a banner of Michigan Business. It certainly reads like it was produced by the PR people at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing. And they didn't even try very hard, not even bothering to solicit a single comment from anybody in Detroit.

Shame on the Detroit Free Press for reprinting corporate puff piece handouts without context, history, explanation, or dispute.

No Author

Detroit Free Press

THE CAUSE: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing, the world's largest publisher of educational materials for pre-kindergarten through high school, held a one-day mass volunteer effort in the district Feb. 9 to launch a partnership with DPS.

BACKGROUND: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is embarking on a multi-year partnership with DPS to provide Destination: Detroit, a districtwide program that is to reshape how DPS approaches curriculum, lesson planning and instruction.

This is the first time Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has provided such an integrated offering of resources, and the hope is to make DPS a national model for how K-12 districts will educate in the future.

The company is embedding 10 full-time support staff in the district to manage the system.

The company relocated its executive strategy conference, originally scheduled for Austin, Texas, to Detroit to show employees firsthand the needs of its DPS customer.

The company booked more than 200 hotel rooms over the course of three days in Detroit.

RESULTS: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt fanned 200 executives across 23 DPS schools, providing approximately 1,500 volunteer hours in a single day.

They provided professional development to teachers, reading and math tutoring to students, technology support, library organization and building maintenance, among other activities (including building two school Web sites and helping write grant proposals).

According to the DPS, this is the first time a private company has provided this level of volunteer support in the district at one time.

Additionally, the company awarded four $2,500 college scholarships to DPS high school graduates, as well as donating more than 1,500 books for use in DPS school libraries.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt plans to make the day of service an annual event, and the 10- person local team is to provide volunteer work in the district every two months.

ON GIVING: "Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is committed to working shoulder to shoulder with Detroit Public Schools to foster a true community of learning for the betterment of Detroit's children. Our Day of Service is a critical first step toward this larger goal that will set in motion improvements across DPS," said Barry O'Callaghan, CEO and chairman of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

— no author, Detroit Free Press, 2010-04-25

SUN TIMES NOVEMBER 2 - 3, 2015...

Feds: Ex-CPS CEO 'fraudulently' steered $40M contract in Detroit, WRITTEN BY JON SEIDEL, DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND LAUREN FITZPATRICK POSTED: 11/02/2015, 07:29PM

An FBI agent believed corrupt former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked to “fraudulently steer” a $40 million contract to one of the country’s biggest educational publishers while she worked for the Detroit schools, according to records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

The court documents obtained Monday also show federal law-enforcement authorities suspected two aides who later worked for CPS helped Byrd-Bennett to rig the bidding process in Detroit in favor of Boston-based Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The revelations appear in a March 2013 affidavit the FBI filed for a warrant to search Byrd-Bennett’s America Online email account. That’s the same personal account Byrd-Bennett allegedly used to work out the details of a kickback scheme at CPS.

Byrd-Bennett pleaded guilty Oct. 13 to steering $23 million in CPS contracts for The SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates, two north suburban education-consulting companies that employed her before she became Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s schools chief in 2012.

When federal authorities in Chicago indicted Byrd-Bennett and the two owners of SUPES and Synesi on Oct. 8, they said their investigation was ongoing and that Byrd-Bennett was cooperating with the probe.

Nobody has been charged criminally in connection with the investigation of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Detroit deal.

As the Sun-Times first reported last week, federal investigators were looking into the massive deal Houghton Mifflin Harcourt won in Detroit in 2009, when Byrd-Bennett was a high-ranking official for the Michigan city’s school district.

And the newly obtained court records shed further light on how authorities believed long ago that they had “probable cause” to suspect corruption in the dealings between Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Byrd-Bennett.

In the sealed affidavit from more than 2-1/2 years ago, FBI Special Agent Joseph Richard Jensen told the judge he thought Byrd-Bennett “worked with and through” longtime aides Sherry Ulery and Tracy Martin and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt executive John Winkler in a fraudulent scheme. In the Detroit deal, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was paid about $40 million in federal stimulus funds.

The feds told the judge an “unusual financial transaction” took place about three weeks before the contracting process for the Detroit deal began. Records show the FBI’s “analysis of bank account belonging to Barbara Byrd-Bennett shows a deposit into her Money Market account on July 20, 2009 in the amount of $26,530.26 from ‘Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.’”

Before arriving in Detroit in May 2009, Byrd-Bennett had worked for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for three years for an annual salary of more than $155,000, according to court records.

A couple of months after leaving the Detroit schools — where she was an independent contractor with the title of chief academic and accountability officer — Byrd-Bennett returned to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The company offered her $182,000 a year to work 21 hours each week, the FBI said.

Jensen wrote that he thought emails in Byrd-Bennett’s AOL account would show Byrd-Bennett lied to Detroit school officials about her relationship with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and that “she had a conflict of interest with regard to contracting between” the company and the Detroit district.

The federal investigator then detailed how Ulery and Martin were involved in awarding the lucrative Detroit contract to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The Detroit schools issued a request for proposals, or RFP, for the deal and conducted a bidding process. But Jensen wrote there were emails indicating that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt “was selected by Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Tracy Martin and Sherry Ulery as early as June 2009, two months before the RFP was released, and thus that the bidding process was rigged to award the contract to HMH.”

According to the court documents, three Detroit schools officials were assigned to review bids made in response to that request for proposals. Ulery and Martin, who were working directly for Byrd-Bennett in Detroit, were two members of the three-person bid panel, with Byrd-Bennett’s then-chief of staff, the records show.

Martin and Ulery were part of Byrd-Bennett’s inner circle for over a decade, trailing her from Cleveland’s school district — where Byrd-Bennett was chief executive until 2006 — to Detroit and finally to CPS.

Ulery was hired at CPS just before Emanuel promoted Byrd-Bennett to the chief executive’s job, while Byrd-Bennett briefly was Chicago’s chief academic officer. Ulery became Byrd-Bennett’s $175,000-a-year chief of staff at CPS and was a constant presence at her side at public events in Chicago.

About a month after Byrd-Bennett was elevated to the top job, she hired Martin to manage a pet project for $170,000 a year.

Ulery and Martin were named in federal subpoenas delivered to the Chicago schools in April. Ulery also was called to testify before a federal grand jury.

Both resigned from CPS in June. The school district was paying for lawyers for both Ulery and Martin, saying they were obligated to cover the costs of representing employees being questioned about their work. District officials now say they have stopped paying for Martin’s attorney, but they would not say when or why that happened.

Neither Ulery nor Martin returned emails seeking comment Monday.

Besides the Detroit deal, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was mentioned in September 2014 court records regarding the alleged kickback scheme at CPS. According to those records, there was a 2012 email in which SUPES co-owner Thomas Vranas told Byrd-Bennett: “If we are purchased by HMH [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt], we will give you 5 percent of total amount we are purchased for.”

Vranas and the other SUPES owner, Gary Solomon, were indicted with Byrd-Bennett and have pleaded not guilty.

Vranas’ attorney Michael Monico said the FBI’s September 2014 reference to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was “hypothetical.”

“As far as we are aware, there were no substantive discussions regarding such a sale,” Monico said Monday.

A spokeswoman for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt declined to comment. Winkler, the company executive named in the FBI affidavit, did not respond to calls or emails.

Detroit schools officials also did not return messages. In 2009, a spokeswoman for that school system reportedly told the Detroit News that Byrd-Bennett had not been involved in the bid process for the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt contract.

Byrd-Bennett referred a Sun-Times reporter to her criminal defense lawyer, Michael Scudder, who declined to comment.

Uber’s investors include Mayor Emanuel’s brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel. But the mayor has denied any favoritism. Earlier this year, the mayor stepped in for a second time in a year to block Uber from moving in at the airports. That happened after Uber started an online petition to persuade City Hall to let its drivers make airport pickups.

THE SUN-TIMES CATCHES UP WITH A STORY TOLD FIRST AND BEST LONG AGO...



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